Uganda plans to increase work permit fees

Foreigner coming to work in Uganda may soon be required to pay a figure higher than the current  $2,500 to acquire work permits.

According to  the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control,  Maj Gen Apollo Kasiita-Gowa, the change is intended to limit undeserving foreign work seekers.

Kasiita made the revelation while appearing before the Public Accounts Committee  (PAC) of Parliament to answer revenue collection queries contained in the Auditor General’s report for 2017/18 financial year.

Through issuance of work permits to foreigners, non-tax revenue (NTR) collections rose to Shs 127 billion, the auditor general reported some shortfalls in NTR collections totalling to more than Shs 1.56 billion.

The principal accountant at the directorate of Immigrations directorate, Stephen Bwire told PAC that whereas there was a reduction in NTR collected from Certificate of identity, certification fees, citizenship registration and conventional travel documents, there was a general increase in the collection of NTR from the budgeted amount of 160 billion to 196 billion.

Bwire said that the decline in the NTR collection from citizenship registration resulted from the massive citizenship registration and the adoption of the use of national ID for travel across the region which greatly reduced the demand for certificates of identity.

He however noted that the entity collected more money on work permit fees from the projected Shs 108 billion to Shs 127 billion.

The increase in collections, PAC chairman   Nathan Nandala Mafabi interpreted this to mean that the entity awards so many work permits to foreigners to take up jobs that could have catered for the many unemployed Ugandans.

He said that this increment in revenue collection on work permits means a disadvantage to Uganda.

Moroto Municipality MP Fred Angera also questioned whether the increment in the work permit revenue collection had been sparked off by a hike in fees or the number of foreign workers in Uganda.

Kasiita said that they have been carrying out a study in which they made a comparison with the work permit fees charged by other countries in the East Africa Community (EAC) which has proved that Uganda’s rates are slightly lower.

Col G.B Kambere, the Commissioner Immigrations Control told PAC that the issue is not about allowing more people coming in the country but improvement in compliance mechanism.

He said that there are many people who do not have the required permits and that the increased emphasis on enforcement has seen collections increase.

He added that the people being allowed into the country to work are those with high skills which the country cannot solicit locally.

Kasiita-Gowa added that the directorate wants to be restrictive for people not to find the country unattractive place within which to do business.

He said that this is why they are still carrying out a study on the matter before coming up something conclusive.

“This is where we are still conflicted and we are saying that lets perhaps do further study, not only within the East African region but beyond to see how others have survived or developed economies,” said Kasiita.