Members of Parliament have rejected the tourism amendment Bill tabled by the Minister of Environment, Natural Resources, Conservation and Tourism, Tshekedi Khama (pictured below).
The Bill sought to make provision for the imposition of a levy on tourism enterprises, tourists or tourist product consumers. It stated that the purpose of the levy is restrictive because the money in the Fund is intended to assist in the training of staff of tourist enterprises. It went on to state that the levy does not provide for other forms of assistance such as the improvement and maintenance of quality standards of facilities and services provided for tourists by the government.
The Bill does not provide for other forms of assistance such as promoting development and the wellbeing of the tourist industry. Minister Tshekedi stated that the purpose of the Bill is to amend section 30 (2) (a) to empower the minister to impose an additional levy, which will be used for purposes of the improvement and maintenance of quality standards in the facilities and services provided for tourists by the government, and generally promoting the development and well-being of the tourist industry.
Members of Parliament rejected the Bill, arguing that they were not consulted about it at the General Assembly. They advised the minister to take the Bill back to the General Assembly so that MPs can be briefed about it first.
“There is no way I can (agree to) comment any further on this Bill because it’s the first time I’m learning about it. The minister should take it to the General Assembly before he can present it here,” said the Deputy Speaker of the National Assembly, who’s also the MP for Gaborone South, Kagiso Molatlhegi.
“As a member of the Parliamentary Tourism Committee, we should have been briefed about this Bill before coming here, but we are in the dark about it. I expect that as members, we could have been briefed about it,” said the MP for Francistown South, Wynter Mmolotsi.
Mr Molotsi shared Molatlhegi’s sentiments that Khama should take the Bill to the General Assembly first.
“I refuse to grant permission to debate this Bill. I cannot allow another levy to be imposed before we have been consulted about it. This is the Bill that will affect people’s lives, hence the need for us to be briefed about it accordingly because we are here representing our constituents,” Mmolotsi said.
Mmolotsi pointed out that in the past, a Bill on the plastic Fund was passed and while the business community is collecting the money from Batswana, the government has yet to collect the levy from them.
For his part, the MP for Selebi-Phikwe West, Dithapelo Keorapetse said,
“It is not a bad Bill, but procedure should be followed.”
Featured image source Zambezi Queen