Better days are in the offing for foreign investors and experts, thanks to the government of Tanzania for reducing its longstanding bureaucracy in processing both work and residence permits.
This follows the amendment of some labor regulations to reduce bureaucracy in issuing the permits, Anthony Mavunde, the deputy minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office (Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labor, Employment, Youths and Disabled), said.
Between this and next month (August and September 2018), all applicants, who would fulfill all necessary requirements, would be able to secure their permits within seven working days, Mavunde said.
Previously, the work and residence permits used to take months in Tanzania, as different dockets were responsible for processing them, subjecting foreign investors and expert’s to unnecessary hassle.
“We’re finalizing an online application which will enable us to merger the work and residence permits into one roof,” Mavunde told investors in tourism industry in Arusha recently.
Under the new procedure, the process of issuing work and temporary residence permits to non-citizens would be streamlined to offer foreign investors and experts a hassle-free-service.
The chairman of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), Wilbard Chambulo, said members of the outfit and other investors in the tourism sector have been finding it hard to renew work permits for their foreign employees, thus affecting service delivery.
Tato has all along been poking several holes in the ‘tedious’ existing process of issuing the permits, including the Labor Division’s reluctance to recognize those issued by the Immigration Department to foreigners staying in the country for a period not exceeding three months.
“This has caused significant disturbance, and in some cases chaos, as labor officers have been apprehending foreign workers and investors with these permits,” reads part of the complaints comprised in a document Tato submitted to the government.
The association recommends in the documents whose copy e-Turbo news has seen that the Immigration and Employment and Labor Relations Acts be amended by way of Miscellaneous Amendments to avert the conflict.
Tato observes further in the document that the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulations) Act does not place a ceiling on the duration the process of issuing permits should take from the date an application is tendered.
“It’s also not clear whether applicants seeking renewal of their permits should remain or leave the country when waiting for the decision,” the document reads.
Tato Chief Executive Officer, Sirili Akko recommends that the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulations) Act be amended to clearly state the time it would take to process a work permit.
The amendment should also state that renewal applications be made from within Tanzania and clarify on the legal status of applicants with pending applications for the same.
“So long as the renewal of the permit has been applied for timely, say over six weeks before expiry, the applicant should be able to reside and work in Tanzania without having to pay extra or obtain extra permits,” Akko explains.
On submission of the renewal application, it adds, the person could be issued with a standard official letter, declaring that the person’s status is being processed and allowing him to continue with his current status until the process has been finalized
The association further observes that the same Act empowers immigration, police and labor officers to inspect work permits of foreign employees without stipulating their boundaries.
As a result, the officers have separately and at different time been storming into business entities to repeatedly carry out a similar operation.
Tato recommends that the Non-Citizens (Employment Regulation) Act also be amended by way of Miscellaneous Amendments to give the routine inspection mandate to only one agency, preferably the labor office.
In case of lack of personnel within the labor office to administer the inspection, the envisaged provision should allow either immigration or police officers to carry out the operation, but not both of them.
Akko says confusion often arise at check points when residence permits are issued for a specific location contrary to work permits which allow one to work throughout Tanzania Mainland.
“People, who do not have the right region on their residence permit but have travelled to a different part of the country for work, are seen as violating their residency status, even when the visit is for a very short time.” he explains.
Tato recommends that a person with a residence permit be legally allowed to travel and temporarily reside in different regions of the country without penalty.
The current residence permit allows up to add only five regions to a permit, but many members of the business community, including those in the tourism sector, are required to travel to more than five regions.
“It is difficult to understand why, in some cases, a work permit can be approved, but a residence permit denied,” wonders the association, saying a labor permit ought to be issued well before the residency permit.
Tato pleads with the government of Tanzania to consider emulating other East African countries which allow foreigners to secure permanent residency provided they met strings attached to the status, including staying in the country for a long time.