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PAC Raises Red Flag On ‘Fake’ Investors in Uganda

MPs on the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) have raised an alarm over an avalanche of fake foreign investors flooding the local market.

Legislators say a number of these so called expats are doing jobs meant for natives.

These concerns stem from Auditor General (AG) John Muwanga’s 2017/2018 report which indicates a jump in Visa/work permit revenue collections.

Legislators first of all questioned why visa fees and work permit collections fetched Shs 121Billion and Shs 38.7 billion respectively.

They say this figure is overwhelming in comparison to citizenship registration which alone amounted to 634 million shillings.

“The moment collection increased, many people came in to work in Uganda. What happens to Ugandans?” wonders Hon Nathan Nandala Mafabi the committee chairman.

Specifically, Nandala says whereas immigration should be determined by the principle of reciprocity, it is rarely the case in Asian countries like India.

“I have been to India studying in those earlier years under the Common Wealth tax administration. I have never seen a black man owning a shop” he says.

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On his part, Joseph Gonzaga Ssewungu the Kalungu west MP queried the criteria used in selecting investors.

Clarifying however, Col Godfrey Kambare Commissioner Immigration said the particular increase in these areas can be tagged to heightened enforcement mechanisms.

Concerning employment, Kambare says only those with high skills are the ones who qualify for work permits.

He added that Immigration was recently advised by government to hike work permit fees to protect locals.

“We have been advised by cabinet to make it $2500, so that one can limit some investors and give opportunity to our people”, Kambare says.

To attain a 24 months’ class A2 permit one has to make a pre-payment 1500 dollars and a top fee of 2500 dollars.

However, Maj. Gen. Apollo Kasiita Gowa the DCIC director says they are still studying the possibility of implementing this measure.

“We are still holding discussions over these various fees and whether we can increase them or reduce them or leave them at par”, Kasiita explains.

On the issue of aliens, officials reiterated that though they are making progress in identifying illegal entrants, they still face an uphill task.

Notably, they said it is difficult to differentiate locals from foreigners something which requires resources that they might not have at disposal.

According to the 2017 Private sector investment survey,  Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) transactions during 2016 increased to USD 625 million from USD 538 million in 2015.

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