Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Uganda to waive work permit fees for Rwandans, Kenyans


The move will allow free movement of workers and boost trade among the three countries. The New Times/File.

Kampala will waive work permit fees for Rwandans and Kenyans living and working in Uganda with effect from January 2014, a senior Ugandan official has said.

Godfrey Sasagar Wanzira, the director of immigration in Uganda, disclosed this last week while addressing a technical meeting of a regional trilateral initiative in Kigali.

The meeting was convened to deliberate on several regional projects ahead of yesterday’s Heads of State integration summit. The scrapping of work permit fees among the three countries is geared at facilitating free movement of labour among the three countries.

“We will waive the work permit fees for all Rwandans and Kenyans seeking employment in Uganda effective January,” Wanzira told the meeting.

The issue of work permit fees in the East African Community (EAC) recently raised debate with some suggesting that it should be abolished while others believe it should remain as a source of revenue for the partner states.

Proponents of the abolition of the fees consider it as an impediment to free movement of labour within the community.

Among all the five partner states, only Rwanda has waived work permit fees for citizens of the regional bloc, only requiring them to renew the permits periodically but at no cost.

However, the three countries have now agreed to scrap the fees on a trilateral arrangement, a move which is envisaged to boost trade and strengthen the integration process.

Sign of commitment  

Mary Baine, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, who was chairing the meeting welcomed the move, adding that it’s a sign of commitment to further the integration process.

“Rwanda waived the fees and today Uganda has assured us that they will implement the same. We are optimistic that it will allow free movement of workers and boost trade among our countries,” she said.

Meanwhile, at the integration projects summit in Kigali, yesterday, Southern Sudan also announced that it had waived work permit fees for Rwandans.

The scrapping of work permit fees was first implemented bilaterally between Rwanda and Kenya, before Kigali later extended it to citizens from the other EAC partner states.

Permit fees have always been considered a non-tariff barrier to the full implementation of the Common Market Protocol, through restricting the movement of labour.

The fees charged to obtain work permits vary between partner states.

For example, in Tanzania, a permit costs between $6 and $3,000, while in Uganda, it ranges between $250 and $2,500.  Burundi charges between $ 60 and $84.

source: The new times

Uganda to waive work permit fees for Rwandans, Kenyans


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