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EAC common market in trouble as Kenya plans fees on TZ firms

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Kenya is considering charging a business visa fee of Sh25,000 for Tanzanian nationals coming to Kenya for business purposes.

The fee, currently imposed by Tanzania to all East Africa Community partner states residents, is meant for the issuance of a certificate of temporary assignment.

The move, viewed by the six EAC partner states as a non-tariff barrier is a hit back on Tanzania for consistently imposing the fee to other EAC residents.

Tanzania has remained adamant to drop the charges despite directives by the EAC council of ministers to waive it as per Regulation five of the EAC Common Market Protocol.

According to Industrialisation CS Peter Munya, Kenya will continue pursuing the discriminative visa or pass fee until Tanzania drops the charges.

“We consider charging the same to Tanzania for the purposes of harmonisation and reciprocity,” documents seen by the Star read.

Despite complains from EAC states, Tanzania told the Sectoral Council on Trade, Industry, Finance and Investment last week that the charge is not for Visa but it is a fee on a pass.

The council was told that the fee is charged on persons coming in to perform economic activities and professional services such as consultancies.

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Currently, EAC residents are allowed free movement within the five partner states with no VISA requirements. The 35th EAC Council of Ministers meeting in April 2017 directed member states to start issuing regional e-passport by January 2018.

Kenya rolled out the e-passport in September 2017 while Tanzania launched its own in January this year. In September this year, Tanzanias Labour commission declined a work permit application for Safaricom chief customer officer Sylvia Mulinge.

While the commission did not make it clear why her permit was rejected, Labour Minister Gaudensia Kabaka said the applicant had not satisfied all requirements for a work permit. Mulinge had been appointed by Tanzania’s largest telecom Vodacom as its managing director but was re-hired by Safaricom last month as her comeback cast doubt on EAC integration bid.

The move by Labour Commission raised eyebrows on the disappointment of thousands of professionals across East Africa as a result of national interests.

This is besides national interests being incompatible with the region’s policies that allow for free movement of persons, labor and services under article 104 of the 1999 treaty. The treaty re-established the East African Community after 22 years of disintegration due to due to political differences between Partner States.

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