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EA Legislators: Ease Process of Acquiring Work, Residence Permits

The East African Legislative Assembly has called on the Partner States to commence the process of uniformly abolishing work and residence permit fees as well as in the facilitation of portability of social benefits.

In the same vein, approved the Assembly is set to work jointly with regional advocacy bodies to engage in sensitization and popularization of the Common Market Protocol among other related issues.

The Assembly on Wednesday debated and adopted the Report of the Committee on General Purpose on the petition to EALA regarding work/residence permits in the EAC for the citizens of the Partner States.

The Report presented by Hon Dr Odette Nyiramilimo, Chair of the Committee indicates that a number of areas of co-operation and implementation of the Common Market Protocol remain in the remit of individual Partner States and thus calls for advocacy to enable harmonization at the regional level.

According to the EAC Secretariat, the Committee further observed that the issue of portability of social benefits is key and undertakes to continue work with the East African Trade Union Confederation (EATUC) and the East African Employers Association (EAEO), who are drafting a Bill on the same.

The issue of portability of social benefits is already been discussed bilaterally among some Partner States.

In addition, EALA is to formalize its engagement with the East African Business Council and other private sector players in the region.

The said petition was presented to the EALA Speaker, Rt. Hon Daniel Fred Kidega by the East African Trade Union Confederation and the East African Employers Association in March 2015.


The annex, according to the petitioners should put in place a roadmap for the gradual implementation of free labour mobility which eventually comprises all sectors and all categories of blue and white collar workers.

Furthermore, the petitioners want the new revised annex to put in place a tripartite mechanism (Employers, Trade Unions and Government) at the EAC level and should be administered at national level through the tripartite fora.

The petitioners also want the standardization of the process of the work permits and the eventual removal of the permits.

Hon Peter Mathuki also supported the report
Hon Peter Mathuki also supported the report

At debate time, Hon Martin Ngoga called for the harmonization of the procedures of acquiring permits while Hon Susan Nakawuki said Partner States should not be seen to be introducing barriers that hamper process of acquisition of the permits.

Hon Dr James Ndahiro remarked that though the Common Market Protocol had many benefits, citizens of the region continued to face a myriad of challenges.

He remarked that it was necessary for EAC Partner States to prioritize integration.

Hon Dora Byamukama congratulated the Secretary General of the Community for introducing the EAC Scorecard on the Common Market Protocol remarking that it enabled the region to take stock of the on-going developments.

The legislator called for the speedy harmonization of the student visa fees across board as a way of introducing equal opportunities.

Hon Christophe Bazivamo remarked that in the Republic of Rwanda, it took 3 days to process and issue a permit and about 12 hours to register a company.  Furthermore, the work permit fees for East Africans has been abolished.

“If the cost of issuing permits is high, it is not developmental. It stops people from coming to work, to invest and to develop,” he added.

Hon Abdullah Mwinyi urged the Partner States to adhere to the Protocol and to the principle of non-discrimination of EAC citizens when it comes to enjoying privileges.

On his part, Hon Chris Opoka said it was vital for Partner States to analyse the percentage of revenues earned from work permits vis a vis what investment realized from the opportunities created would bring.

It costs USD 3000 for a work permit in some of the Partner States which is high compared to say USD 155 in a developed country like Canada”, he said.   “If it is about revenue, we can earn much more if people work and they get taxed,” he added.

Hon Shyrose Bhanji urged the Partner States to take advantage of opportunities of the Common Market Protocol.

Others who supported the report were Hon Valerie Nyirahabineza, Hon Peter Mathuki, Hon Bernard Mulengani and Hon Nancy Abisai.

The Minister for EAC, Uganda, Hon Shem Bageine said the Council was committed to addressing all outstanding issues with regards to the Common Market Protocol and said Partner States had identified laws in the Partner States which need to comply to the EAC Laws.

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