Regional business lobby decries higher permit fees

12Jan 2016
Our Reporter
The Guardian
Regional business lobby decries higher permit fees

THE East African Business Council (EABC) has asked President John Pombe Magufuli to reconsider taking measures in work and residential permit fees for regional citizens working in the country introducing new ones.

Rwanda to host the East African Business Council

Besides slashing down the fees, the Council has also asked the government to do away with the long and winding process in paying the fees so as to make business in the region prosper.
EABC acting Executive Director Lilian Awinja said it was wise for the government to reconsider reviewing the process for EAC citizens to give them a ‘new year gift’ of waiver on the fees.
She said this would be particularly so for the bonafide workers in the liberalised categories as agreed under the EAC Common Market Protocol.
“In the Spirit of EAC and seeing that other countries in the bloc have waived work permit fees for all EAC nationals, we urge President Magufuli to reconsider taking similar measures for EAC citizens,” Awinja told The Guardian in an exclusive interview at the weekend.
The EABC boss also expressed her concern on the increased fees, noting that they will negatively impact on the business environment.
According to Awinja, the fees had increased the cost of doing businesses albeit businesses still have to grapple with high energy costs, high operational costs, the cost of air transport and others.
“We urge the government of Tanzania to support businesses by improving the business environment and make policy reforms that will reduce the overall costs of doing business,” she suggested.
Awinja was reacting to a recent notice by the government through the ministry responsible for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and People Living with Disability which gave details on the fees classification for foreign residents and workers.
Towards the end of last year, Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office, Jenista Mhagama issued 14 days to companies that engage foreign workers to ensure that their employees had valid permanent work permits.
The minister had earlier noted that there were reports of foreigners working in the country without valid work permits, while others used the ‘Carry on Temporary Assignment’ permits.
“We would like to inform all employers in the country that the Non-Citizen Employment Regulation Act of 2015 gives the Labour Commissioner the manande to issue work permits and no other authority,” she explained in a public notice issued to the media.
The minister also reminded all employers with non-citizen workers holding the ‘Carry on Temporary Assignment’ permits and those without valid work permits that they were going against the country’s immigration laws.
According to the requirements by the government a resident permit classified as A-1 provided to persons intending to engage in mining business in Tanzania costs a foreigner $3000 (6.3m/-).
The same will cost a large scale to a businessman intending to engage in a specific trade in the country.
A foreigner intending to engage in large scale manufacturing and processing in the country will have to cough $2500 (5.2m) to secure an A-4 residential permit.
The regulations further stipulate that a foreigner who has been offered a specific employment by a specific employer and s/he has the required qualifications and experience will have to pay $2000 (4.2m) to get a residential permit classified as B while researchers and employees of a duly registered non governmental organization will have to pay $500 (1m/-) to secure a C-1 residential permit.
According to the EABC boss, the fees did not differentiate between EAC nationals and foreigners from other countries.
To complete the process, the permit applicant needs to submit and pay the application at the Ministry of labour, then get the forms processed and finally obtain the work permit.
“They will have to submit their work permits and application forms for a residence permit to the Immigration Department and later make some payments… process is costly and longer therefore impacting negatively on businesses,” she explained to The Guardian.
The government recently conducted a crackdown on foreigners doing jobs that could otherwise be done by nationals and actions such as repatriation has been taken against the foreigners.
Responding to this, Awinja said this was in line with the agreements under East African Community, urging all workers to comply by obtaining the required clearance.