NEWS By ADAM IHUCHA Special Correspondent Posted Saturday, August 11 2012 at 15:44 Tanzania has found itself in a tight corner over its move to raise foreign work permit fees by nearly 100 per cent, as the region's private sector seeks the East African Community's intervention. In a gazette notice dated August 1, Tanzania announced it will increase work permit fees for foreigners including East African citizens, testing its commitment to opening its borders in the wake of the implementation of the EAC Common Market Protocol, which, among others, entails free movement of labour. Hardest hit are those in categories A-1, A-2, and A-3, engaged in prospecting and mining, as well as large scale traders and businesses who will now part with $3,000, up from $1,600, having raised it from $1,000 last year. Lawyers, accountants and doctors who plan to run consultancy services in Tanzania, will pay a similar amount. The principal commissioner of Immigration services has directed all "foreign nationals holding residence permits of Class A," employers of foreign nationals holding Residence Permits Class "B" and missionaries, students, foreign volunteers, researchers and retired foreign nationals holding Residence Permits Class C," that with effect from August 1, they will be required to submit their Residence permits to Regional and District immigration offices for replacement." All regional and district immigration authorities have also been ordered to ensure that all previous permits are replaced by December 31. But the Arusha based East African Business Council, an apex body of the business community in the region, said the work permit fee increase will hinder the free movement of labour, calling on the EAC Council of Ministers to intervene urgently. "This is alarming to private sector players who have been paying work permit fees of about $1,500 since last year, and are suddenly supposed to pay twice as much," said EABC communications manager, Dona Sava. Ms Sava warned that: "While the EAC integration is trying to achieve a great milestone through the free movement of persons, such issues act as barriers." The East African Law Society chief executive officer, Tito Byenkya told The EastAfrican that they are also concerned about other EAC partner states that impose restrictions to free movement of skilled labour. "It seems this is just a trend across the region because it is not only Tanzania that keeps raising work permit fees; Kenya, on the other hand, has set age limits for non-citizens wishing to work in the country" said Mr Byenkya. According to EALS chief, all these are non-tariffs-barriers for free movement of skilled labour across the region. Mr Byenkya, however, emphasised that the EAC should come up with a clear policy on the issue in a bid to avoid progressive increment of work permit fee across the region, which in turn makes the EAC an expensive destination for foreign professionals. Rwanda and Kenya abolished work permit fees for EAC citizens in 2008 and 2010, respectively.