Kampala, Uganda | URN | The Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control is considering increasing Uganda work permit fees from the current US Dollars 2,500 to a higher figure in a bid to limit foreign job seekers.
The revelation was made on Thursday 25th during a meeting between MPs on the Public Accounts Committee and officials from the Directorate led by the Director Maj. Gen. Apollo Kasiita-Gowa.
The revelation came up during queries by Members of Parliament on the issuance of work permits to foreigners that saw an increase in fee collections amounting to 127 billion Shillings.
The MPs argued that there are many foreigners involved in petty business that could be done by Ugandans.
The matter arose from a response to Auditor General’s query on under collection of Non-Tax Revenue (NTR) on individual revenue sources during the financial year 2017/2018 totaling 1.566 billion Shillings.
The Immigrations Directorate Principal Accountant 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 108 billion to 127 billion Shillings.
PAC Chairperson Nathan Nandala Mafabi said that this means that the entity gives so many work permits to foreigners to take up jobs that could be done by 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.
Maj. Gen. Apollo Kasiita-Gowa, Director of the Directorate of Citizenship and Immigration Control said that they have been carrying out a comparison with fees charged on work permits by countries in the East Africa Community (EAC) and that those charged by Uganda 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. Col. Kambere also revealed that they are considering on increasing the fee for work permits from US Dollars 2,500 to an amount they are yet to decide.
But Maj. Gen.Gowa said that they do not want to be restrictive for people 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.