By Van Deguras

KIGEZI: Officials from Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) on Monday handed over three cheques worth 3.38 billion shillings to the district local governments of Rubanda, Kisoro and Kanungu, as part of their Revenue sharing from the Bwindi-Mgahinga Impenetrable National Parks.

The function was held at the Volcano Hotel in Rubanda town council in Rubanda district, was attended by officials from UWA, respective district Chairpersons, Chief Administrative officers, Resident district commissioners and among others. Rubanda district received 802 million shillings, Kisoro district received 509 million shillings, while Kanungu district received the biggest share of 1.79 billion shillings.

The Acting Executive Director of Uganda Wild life Authority John Makombo said that the fund is part of the revenue that was generated from Bwindi-Mgahinga Impenetrable National park, from the financial year 2019/2020 and 2021/2022. He added that Kisoro district will receive 280 million shillings as an additional revenue share fund from Mgahinga Gorilla National park.

Handing over the cheques as the chief guest, the Minister of Tourism, Wildlife and Antiquities Hon Rtd Col Tom Butime, said that funds reduced by 1.09 billion shillings which translates into 24 percent loss compared to the year 2017/2018 and 2018/2019, when they dispersed a total of 4.47 billion shillings.

Minister Butime said that the decline resulted from shutdown for tourism in April 2020 and reopened in September in 2020 but even after reopening, tourists didn’t turn up immediately during the peak season of September when high revenues were expected.

He said that unlike the past, the revenue sharing fund is now a conditional grant for which local governments are required to make accountability to UWA after implementation of the various projects, adding that the liberty to use revenue sharing funds in any way that some district officials may wish is no more. He directed the Chief Administrative officers, to ensure that the money disbursed today reaches the sub counties and communities in time.

The Rubanda District Chairperson Steven Ampeire Kasyaba on behalf of the district local governments commended the government through UWA for giving them their share. He added that the money will benefit the areas that surround the park by identifying the proper projects that will show up value for money and pledged a total commitment to ensure that the money serves its purpose. He added that the funds will help in improving services to the people.

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