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UN to abide by the work permits fees

By Morris Dogga

The United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan Alain Noudehou has declared that the various UN agencies operating in the country will not object the government’s decision to increase the work permit fees for all foreign workers.

In March this year, the Ministry of Finance announced upsurge of the work permit fees for foreign workers in the country, subjecting the expatriates to pay an amount ranging from 5,000 US dollars to 10,000 US dollars, depending on the level of their qualification.

But after criticism from some aid agencies, last month the ministry reduced the amount. The latest development is that now consultants and managers will be charged 4,000 US dollars, professionals will pay 3,000 US dollars, technicians 2,000 dollars, skilled workers 1,000 dollars and unskilled workers will pay 500 dollars, according to the directives from the Ministry of Finance and Planning of the Republic of South Sudan.

Responding to questions from journalists during a press conference yesterday, Mr. Noudelou said the issue of work permit was something that had to do with national legislation. “So it is important that all my colleagues from the humanitarian sector are committed to abide by the law and to make sure that they really get the work permit and in due time,” he said.

Mr. Noudelou explained that it is the national law to require people who are working in South Sudan to have a working permit. The humanitarian coordinator however, declined to comment on whether the fee was high or not, but said any fee that is requested of a humanitarian actor to pay reduces the ability of those players to meet the requirement, if the fees are actually deemed to be too high in terms of where they are.

“It is something that is of a great concern to humanitarian agencies because of the level of the fees and at the same time, it is also important to recognize that it is the law of the country and it is important that people abide to it in order to make sure that people are here working legally,” Mr. Noudelou added.

Commenting on the humanitarian situation in the country, Noudehou said the situation continuous to be very difficult with the need for food still remaining very high. He reiterated that the number of people needing food assistance is expected to grow next year, which would continue to be a major challenge for the country and all the humanitarian actors.

Mr. Noudehou further divulged that the UN Country team consisting of a total of 17 agencies is currently preparing the next cooperation framework with the government, adding that deliberations have started to clearly define the priorities going forward in the next three years.

According to Mr. Noudehou, the framework will be finalised in the coming months and it will inform the UN agencies future cooperation. However, Mr. Noudehou did not comment on the new labour bill, which is expected to be ascended into law anytime soon.

The issue of work permit for foreign workers in the country will be further delineated once the labour bill is ascended into law by the President of the Republic. It would regulate the labour market and employment opportunities for both nationals and foreigners. My South Sudanese grumble that their opportunities are being clutched by foreigners, who are not even skilled workers.

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