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How tourism top officials squandered Sh35 billion

Fri, 9 Apr 2021 Source: thecitizen.co.tz

For a moment, let’s put aside the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on tourism and, instead, focus on how top officials at the Tourism ministry misused funds that were meant for the promotion of the sector.

According to the Controller and Auditor General’s (CAG) report for the 2019/20 financial year, the country’s key sector was subjected to the misuse of public funds and violation of the public service code of conduct by ministry officials.

CAG Charles Kichere said he did a special audit to the Ministry for Natural Resources and Tourism and found a series of unlawful payments, most of which were out of the budget allocated for the 2019/20 financial year.

He said, in the Tourism Development Levy Fund over Sh34.98 billion of tourism levies were misused, putting the director of Tourism and accountant, who were involved with the management of the funds, responsible.

“I noticed that Sh6.875 billion was paid from the sector’s Development Levy funds without the approval of the accounting officer contrary to regulations. I also noticed that a total expenditure of Sh16.363 billion were done but there was no payment document available,” he said.

Mr Kichere said there were also Sh11.157 billion of levies used but did not have sufficient documentation, while nearly Sh89 million was spent by the National Museum for activities that were not tourism related.

Moreover, the Tanzania National Parks (Tanapa) paid Sh500 million directly to the National Tourism Board without using the Tourism Development Levy account contrary to regulations.

CAG also expressed concerns that there were limitations in the establishment and management of Urithi Festival, after the ministry directed its four agencies to fund the festival regardless of the fact that it was not part of the financial year’s budget.

He said, “A total of Sh1.57 billion was raised to facilitate the implementation of the festival despite that all these funds were not in the budgets of the respective ministry and institutions.”

The four agencies contributed Sh1 billion while the ministry put in Sh299 million while Sh270.84 million was taken from the Tourism Development Levy fund.

For the festival broadcasting two media houses, Clouds Media Group and national broadcasting TBC were paid Sh629.7 million and Sh201.46 million respectively, however CAG says no electronic receipts were issued to confirm such payment and no withholding taxes were deducted from the payments.

Other payments which did not comply with regulations of using public funds include a total of Sh487.26 million transferred to seven institutions for the implementation of the Urithi Festival and payment of Sh140 million to Wasafi Company for artists who would advertise local tourism in six regions of Dar es Salaam, Mwanza, Arusha, Moshi, Iringa, and Dodoma.

On another note, the CAG also revealed that in 2019 then minister for Tourism Hamis Kigwangalla directed Tanapa and Ngorongoro Conservation Area Authority to provide Sh172 million as sponsors for a self-styled ‘Kigwangalla Kili Challenge’ to lure people to climb Mount Kilimanjaro.

Since this expenditure was not in the institution’s budget, Mr Kichere said it affected the implementation and activities for NCAA and Tanapa.

Another institution which fell to the expenses of the ministry of tourism was the Tanzania Forestry Service (TFS) which was directed by the acting secretary of the minister to pay Sh92.2 million for minister’s office expenditure and Sh55.93 million on behalf of the ministry.

“Those institutions did not have a budget for such payments,” says Mr Kichere in his report.

Source: thecitizen.co.tz
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