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Sh44 billion Covid-19 Relief Facility now fully available for tour operators

UDB’s Ojangole called on tour operators to apply

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The European Union – EU and the Uganda Development Bank – UDB, have implored operators in the tourism industry to come and finish the remainder of the EU / Uganda Development Bank Tourism Intervention Fund relief package.

The bank still holds 44 billion shillings which remained of the 62 billion which was the total set aside to revive the tourism industry from the covid-19 setback, out of which only 18.2 billion was disbursed.

While launching the second call for applications in Kampala, the state minister for tourism Martin Mugarra Bahinduka, says that though some operators benefited from the first phase of the programme, the numbers are very few compared to the number of players in the sector.

He adds that he expects that the relaxed conditions will help more people to benefit;

Of the 62 billion, UDB contributed 40 billion, and the European union complemented it with a 21.8 billion grant, impacting the interest rate, which reduced from 12% to 8%.

Caroline Adriaensen the head of cooperation, delegations of European union Uganda, says that since the first phase 18 months ago, it has been a very serious ground-breaking operation because of its nature of involving the EU.  The country has experienced  the results of the government and the different associations working as partners on loan and grant at the same time.

Andriaensen adds that the operations have been slow and unfavourable because they had to make sure that the combination of grant and loan works effectively;

She says that the new call is designed to fit in the context of the industry as of now since the pandemic is slowly being seen off;

Patricia Ojangole the managing director of Uganda Development Bank, says that they learnt many lessons from the first phase, and the challenges associated therein were addressed.

Ojangole says that they have come up with the second phase because the fund is still available and they believe that the industry still needs the support;

Samuel Edem Maitum the director for credit at UDB, says that the bank has even relaxed the terms and requirements of the applicants, having learnt from what has been disqualifying most of the applicants.

Edem says that in the first phase of the facility, only 94 companies applied, of which 44 qualified for the loan and consumed only 18.2 billion and this brought in questions to which we found answers.

According to Edem, this second call is to help businesses in the tourism value chain to stand steadily on their feet.

“We refined this particular call which has the grant portion, to stimulate and sustain these businesses which have at least survived the pandemic.”

Under the new arrangements, qualifying businesses will receive a maximum of 1 billion shillings and a minimum of 100 million.

They also have to indicate their greening programme as they are applying for the loan, must have been in business not less than two years, and must have more than 5 employees, among other requirements.

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