Tanzania Government to streamline the hiring of foreigners

Dar es Salaam. The government intends to come up with a law to check the number of foreign workers i...

Dar es Salaam. The government intends to come up with a law to check the number of foreign workers in Tanzania. President Jakaya Kikwete revealed this during Labour Day celebrations yesterday.

The new law will centralise issuing of work permits to foreigners, according to the President, as opposed to the current situation where more than one institution are allowed to do so.

The Bill, to be known as An Act for Foreigners’ Work Permits, will be tabled in Parliament under certificate of urgency in the October parliamentary session.

President Kikwete said this when he led thousands of workers in celebrating Labour Day at a colourful ceremony at Uhuru Stadium yesterday. This year’s Labour Day went by the theme “Good governance should be used to address labourers concerns”.

The head of state said some institutions had misused the opportunity and issued permits to unqualified candidates.

The number of foreign workers in the country is alarming, the president added, and there is a need for the government to take urgent measures to manage the issue.

“For some time now, people have been complaining that foreigners are employed in positions that Tanzanians can serve in, which is true,” he added. “Since some institutions which are responsible for issuing work permits have not been loyal, we intend to enact a law which will give the mandate to one institution.”

President Kikwete also disclosed that the government plans to set up a compensation fund for workers. Both public and private sector workers will be covered as long as they are injured while on duty.

Under the arrangement, the government will contribute one per cent of the salaries of public employees every month while private employers will contribute 0.5 per cent of their employees’ salaries.

According to the President, some of employers have been unable to compensate employees injured at work because they simply cannot afford it.

The President promised that the government would improve the salaries of public employees and reduce Pay as You Earn (PAYE). The minimum wage and PAYE rates will be announced when the Finance minister tables the 2014/2015 budget in Parliament.

Although donors and other development partners have been complaining that the government has spent most of its budget on salaries, he added, the government will continue to improve the salaries it offers its employees because they are poorly paid at the moment. The government spends 48.6 per cent of its budget--equivalent to 10 per cent of the GDP--on salaries.
In another development, President Kikwete said the government is working on standardising social security benefits for all members of such funds. “All Social Security Funds and other stakeholders will meet under the Social Security Regulatory Authority to see how they can standardise the calculation of member contributions and benefits,” said President Kikwete.

The Trade Union Congress of Tanzania (TUCTA) secretary general, Mr Nicholas Mgaya, urged the government raise the minimum wage for public employees to Sh750,000, up from Sh170,000.

Mr Mgaya said TUCTA research showed that, due to the depreciation of the Tanzania shilling and inflation, the living wage for a public servant should be Sh750,000. On a surprisingly low note, Mr Mgaya also urged the government to reduce the tax burden for workers to single digit level.

He also appealed to the government to reduce the number of social security funds in order to cut the cost of running them. If the number of social security funds are reduced, according to Mr Mgaya, the amount of money used to run them could be spent instead on boosting member benefits.

The chairman of the Association of Tanzania Employers, Mr Alamas Maige, urged the government to amend the Public Services Act and Employment and Labour Relations Act on the grounds that it favours employees. In the current set-up, according to Mr Maige, many employers are unable to take action against employees who under-perform or misbehave.

Despite the threat of rain, many workers turned out for the ceremony at Uhuru Stadium. Worker demos started filing into the stadium at around 11am, shortly after President Kikwete arrived. Public and private institutions also put on show some of the equipment they manufacture or use.

When it was time for them to go on show, teachers marched in carrying banners declaring they had yet to be paid their April salaries, which promptly earned them the status of “major attraction” at the parade. They chanted “Our in-law, Our in-law” at President Kikwete in a sly reference to First Lady Salma Kikwete, who is a teacher by profession.

Besides government officials, the ceremony was also attended by representatives of diplomatic missions.

Credit: Thecitizen


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