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Faster work permits in Tanzania

Work permits for employees of foreign investors seeking to set up businesses in Tanzania will now be processed within two weeks, the government has said.

This follows the amendment of some labour regulations to reduce bureaucracy in issuing the permits.

"If an applicant has all the necessary documents, the permit will be ready within 14 days," said the Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Office (Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled), Anthony Mavunde. He added that previously there was no specific time within which work permits were supposed to be processed.

The government is currently working to implement the recently approved blueprint for the improvement of Tanzania's business climate.

The blueprint, which was prepared after consultations with the private sector and the World Bank, will see the government initiate amendments of various laws, including those governing immigration and labour with a view to simplifying the process of issuing the necessary permits to foreign investors and workers.

Currently, one has to get a residence permit from the Immigration Department within the Ministry of Home Affairs, while work permits are issued by the Prime Minister's Office (Labour, Employment, Youth and the Disabled).

According to Mr Mavunde, the decision to fast-track issuance of work permits follows consultations on challenges potential investors are facing when seeking to establish businesses in the country.

"Under the new arrangement, the process of issuing work permits and temporary residence permits to non-citizens will be simplified," he said when addressing tourism stakeholders in Arusha.

The one-day meeting focused on the challenges the tourism sector is facing. One challenge is the difficulties non-citizens face in obtaining work permits.

Mr Mavunde dismissed as untrue claims that the shortage of experts in the country's multibillion-shilling hospitality industry was crippling the sub-sector.

He said a recent survey by the International Labour Organisation showed Tanzania had a labour force of 23 million people, and that among them were people trained in hotel and lodge management.

The chairman of the Tanzania Association of Tour Operators (Tato), Willy Chambulo, said its members and other investors in the tourism sector were finding it difficult to renew work permits for their employees, thus affecting service delivery.

His remarks were echoed by Arusha Regional Commissioner Mrisho Gambo, who suggested that an investor who created 500 jobs should be allowed to hire up to 50 workers from outside the country.

Mr Lugola said the Home Affairs ministry would ensure that challenges facing the tourism sector were addressed as a matter of urgency.

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