Financial News

Uganda curbs NGO jobs for expats

Uganda has banned non-government organisations from taking on expats  – unless they can show no one from Uganda with the same skills can fill the post.

The government is accusing NGOs of soliciting money to fund job creation schemes for expats under the guise of collecting donations to help the underprivileged.

Gabriel Kangwagye, who manages NGO registration in Uganda, claims funding raised by NGOs could pay Ugandan workers rather than bringing in expats.

“The NGOs come to help the community and complement government effort and should not solicit money in our names to create jobs for themselves,” he said. “Otherwise, they should set up commercial enterprises, not the not-for-profit, non-political and community-empowerment organisations.”

The move follows a new law imposed a few weeks ago requiring expat professionals to prove their competence to Ugandan registration bodies.

The Ugandan government alleges some international organisations, particularly those dealing in health, agriculture and community development, bring in unqualified or underqualified staff from outside the country, pay them more and install them as supervisors over better-qualified Ugandan employees.

Some expat medical workers allegedly treat the sick without obtaining a work permit as NGOs bypass the  registration assessment rather than employ local workers.

Kangwagye also accuses other Ugandan government departments of accepting bribes to turn a blind eye to professional qualifications of foreign workers when issuing work permits.

The new guidelines force NGOs to declare their staff lists – specifying the number of foreign nationals and explaining why they, and not Ugandans, were employed. Kangwagye also said a cross-ministerial committee would sweep the country to screen expats employed by NGOs to check their credentials.

Similar guidelines are increasingly imposed in Africa and Asia, where NGOs proliferate.

India was estimated to have around 3.3 million NGOs in 2009, which is just over one NGO per 400 people, and many times the number of schools and health centres in the country.

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