AU considers levies on air tickets, hotel stays and SMSes

2012-07-16 11:04

The African Union (AU) wants the continent’s travellers to pay US$5 (about R41.30) each time they fly in and out of Africa to help fund the organisation.

This is among the proposals contained in the progress report of the AU High-Level Panel on Alternative Sources of Funding, chaired by former Nigerian president Olusegun Obasanjo.

AU commissioner for economic affairs Dr Maxwell Mkwezalamba said the air ticket levy was among the three proposals suggested by Obasanjo’s panel.

The second option is a US$2 (R16.30) hospitality levy applicable for all hotel stays on the continent.

African leaders are expected to discuss Obasanjo’s progress report today but a final decision on the options may only be taken at the next AU summit in January.

Obasanjo’s panel, which includes former Organisation of African Unity secretary-general Dr Salim Ahmed Salim, was set up a year ago.

Mkwezalamba insisted that the economic impact of the two levies would be minimal.
Europe already has air ticket levies.

Mkwezalamba said the third option was a “small levy” on text messages, which he admitted would hit millions of Africa’s low income earners.

“It may increase the cost of sending messages,” he said, indicating that the proposal may not be adopted.

Mkwezalamba said progress has been made on alternative funding and that all that was required was a political decision by heads of state.

The heads of state approved the AU Commission’s US$280 million (about R2.3 billion) budget yesterday but Mkwezalamba admitted that it was not enough to meet the continental body’s needs.

“We need to be getting more than that but there are constraints,” he said.

Its financial challenges include that over 96% of the AU Commission’s US$160 million (nearly R1.3 billion) programmes budget is from donors and partners.

Mkwezalamba said the commission’s budget implementation level was very low.

“We haven’t received all pledges, which may give the impression that we’re not doing our job,” he said.

The Malawian economist said donors often earmarked their funds, which means the resources they provide may not be used for other things.

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