Uganda has missed out on over 5000 security guard jobs at the forthcoming World Cup in Qatar over the job order fees of $30 (about Shs100,000) which is supposed to be paid for every person the companies send abroad to work.
The claim was made by labour export firms, who say the fees, which is first payable to Uganda Revenue Authority by the labour export firms before they take out any person, is hurting the labour export industry in Uganda.
According to the labour exporters, the existence of the tax means it is now costly for them to export such non-domestic workers and they have been unable to send out 5,000 security guards to work at the World Cup which is being hosted by Qatar later this year.
The chairperson of Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), Mr Baker Akantambira, said
under the job order fees, the labour export firms were supposed to pay Shs500m to URA, which he said is prohibitive. He says each guard was meant to earn Sh3m per month and Shs12m for four months.
He says as a result, Qatar has had to source the guards from other African countries.
Akantambira said government had promised to scrap the job order fee, which it introduced last year under the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers) Regulations 2021 but is yet to do so. They say this has made their work very costly, with many forced out of business.
The executive director of KHM International Consultants Limited, Mr Ibrahim Bogere, on Wednesday said since the introduction of the tax in August 2021, there has been a challenge with recruiting non domestic workers such as security guards, drivers and professional workers as individuals (workers) have to meet the cost of the cost.
He added that Ugandans are losing out on a number of job opportunities as foreign companies always prioritise other countries like Kenya and Ghana without such prohibitive taxes.
“Government’s proposal to suspend 30 US dollars tax on every worker exported abroad is overdue, a number of opportunities have been diverted to other countries because the foreigner recruiters are not willing to pay the tax yet their countries without this requirement. Therefore, if the government come up with such a proposal, it is going to increase the number of recruitments and more money shall be flowing into the country,” Mr Bogere said in an interview.
Akantambira said recruiting companies have had a number of engagements with government to ensure that the tax is suspended which was promised to be implemented but wonders why it is taking long to do so.
According to a July 4, 2022, letter seen by this newspaper, the permanent secretary at Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development, Mr Aggrey Kibenge, wrote to the three ambassadors representing Uganda in Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Qatar and United Arab Emirates, seeking for their opinion on the proposed amendment of the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant Workers) Regulations 2021.
In the same letter the permanent secretary noted that Uganda has registered a reduction in the demand for non-domestic workers because the foreign recruitment agencies are not willing to pay the job order fees as stipulated in the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant workers) Regulations, 2021.
“In the course of implementation of the Employment (Recruitment of Ugandan Migrant workers) Regulations, 2021, we have realised that the demand for non-domestic work job categories has gone down because the foreign recruitment agencies are not willing to pay the 30 US dollars per vacancy. The purpose of this letter therefore, is to seek for your opinion on the proposed amendment” the letter read in parts.
Mr Akantambira also wondered why government had to write to the ambassadors seeking for their opinions yet several meetings have been held to discuss the challenges that came with the tax.
“Writing to the ambassadors was not necessary in the question of tax because the minister had already promised to suspend the tax. We shall be grateful because this is going to increases the recruitments,” he said.
The Gender minister, Ms Betty Amongi, was not immediately available to comment on the matter while PS Kibenge was said to be on leave and the ministry spokesperson, Mr Frank Mugabi, referred us to the acting PS, Mr Martin Wandera, who is also the Director of labour at the ministry.
When contacted, Mr Wandera asked us to send him questions, saying he would respond to them but had not done so by press time.
However, Ms Amongi, while meeting labour eexport companies last month, said Cabinet had recommended that she reviews the existing laws on labour externalisation. She said her ministry was drafting a law, which she would again present to Cabinet.