Minister of Gender, Labour and Social Development Frank Tumwebaze said on Tuesday that the labor externalization sector will soon be resuming operations following further relaxation of Covid-19 lockdown measures by the ministry of health.
“This is to inform all licensed companies involved in the sourcing of external employment for Ugandan migrant workers that following the relaxing of a number of #COVID lockdown measures by [ministry of health and] resumption of air travel, the [ministry of labor] will be lifting the ban on labour export by licensed companies in accordance with the existing mandatory #COVID #SOPs for all travelers,” minister Tumwebaze tweeted.
In his tweet, the minister noted that the permanent secretary would issue a detailed statement guiding the resumption of the sector.
Baker Akantambira, the chairperson of the Uganda Association of External Recruitment Agencies (UAERA), told me by phone Tuesday morning that they are yet to receive guidelines on business resumption.
Frank Mugabi, the ministry spokesperson couldn’t immediately comment on the matter as he was in a meeting.
According to UAERA, over 4,000 Ugandans that are directly employed by the labour recruitment companies have been rendered jobless and 35,000 employment opportunities for Ugandans had been lost in the last 7 months of the Covid-19 lockdown.
The government is said to have been earning Non-Tax Remittances estimated at Shs2.2 billion monthly before the suspension of externalization activities due to Covid-19. More importantly, foreign remittances from labour exportation are estimated at $700 million annually.
“To date, there are more than 165,000 Ugandans who are gainfully employed in the Middle East through this program. According to the recent statistics, the annual remittances from migrant workers in the Middle East alone into the country currently had grown to over USD700 million and domestically, the sector has also been contributing direct employment opportunities to over 4,000 Ugandans through the 200 licensed labour externalizing companies, several pre-departure training institutions and other numerous opportunities through back and forward linkages with sectors such as hotels, airlines and transport,” UAERA said in an earlier statement.
“In revenue terms, the sector has been contributing huge non-tax revenue to government agencies through the processing of passports, VISA fees (income to other countries, Interpol charges (98% of the Interpol letters are from labour recruiting companies, bank charges and vaccination payments against yellow fever of 100,000 per person and now the recently introduced COVID-19 PCR Certificate fee. This translates into billions of shillings for over 5,000 migrant workers that are externalized every month.”
Labour externalization was suspended on March 18 after the president announced a ban on passenger flights.