Opinion and Analysis
Tanzania should rethink work permit fees plan
Posted Tuesday, August 7 2012 at 20:25
That Tanzania has decided to increase the work permit fees by 33 per cent is yet another barrier to the success of the East African Community.
We don’t have to remind Dar that nations cannot have their cake and eat it as well. Either we are for regional integration or we are not.
While Tanzania has not broken any regional or municipal law, and it is within it’s rights to impose such a fee, it should realise that all this flies against the spirit of regional integration.
Two years ago, members of EAC agreed to ease the movement of professionals in the region. Countries such as Rwanda and Kenya scrapped work permit fees and there was hope that the other countries – Burundi, Tanzania, and Uganda – would emulate that gesture.
Rwanda will actually soon be allowing EAC nationals to use their identity cards to enter the country.
But with Tanzania doing the reverse, and imposing a new fee, we wonder whether the spirit of regional integration is still alive.
And that should be a matter on the agenda when the EAC council of ministers meets in September.
While Tanzania has a right to use national laws to manage immigration matters, and so are other countries, we feel that the hefty increase on work permit fees defeats the very aim of that clause which was to give countries a chance to have some control on their borders.
Tanzania should have emulated Kenya and Rwanda and allowed professionals and businesses set up camp easily. For that is the only way to tap the potential in the region.
We also believe that as the host of the EAC headquarters, Tanzania should be leading from the front and adopting measures that can further the spirit of integration, rather than frustrating other members’ aspirations for non-tariff barriers.
Tanzania should not allow the frustrations of the EAC collapse in 1970s at the altar of ideological differences and political chest-thumbing interfere with the modern-day necessities of regional trade blocks.
The East African Community nations are on the take-off path. Tanzania has discovered immense deposits of gas, while Kenya and Uganda have accelerated search for oil deposits with good results.
If regional countries take advantage of the human capital in Kenya and open up the business potential for the more than 133 million people in the EAC region, then we are looking at a huge market for goods and services.