The South Sudan government has raised work permit fees for foreigners from $100 to $10,000.
A joint statement issued by Labour, Interior and Finance ministries in the capital Juba said the move was aimed at generating additional revenues to fill the gap in the 2016/2017 national budget.
The statement classified the work permit fees under: Professional or business, $10,000; blue class workers, $2,000; and casual workers, $1,000.
The entry visa charge was also raised to $100 from $50. However, Kenyan and Uganda nationals will pay $50 (Sh5,000) but subject to renewal monthly.
South Sudan has been grappling with an economic crisis occasioned by the outbreak of war in 2013. There were fears that the new charges would attract retaliatory measures from other countries.
The decision, which followed the UN declaration of famine in parts of the country late last month, has been viewed as a veiled target on foreigners working in humanitarian agencies that are helping majority of South Sudanese displaced and suffering from the more than three years of brutal conflict.
However, President Salva Kiir’s spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny dismissed allegations of clamping down on humanitarian workers, saying the decision was driven by national interest.
“Work permit is a routine,” said Mr Ateny in Juba. Any country in the world has a right to impose work permits on foreigners. If you can’t pay $10,000, then you hire a local person instead (of a foreigner).
“Is there any country in the world that does not have regulation for foreigners. Instead the government of South Sudan was asleep and it has now woken up,” he added.
Meanwhile, the South Sudan peace process has been thrown into disarray following the launch of a new rebel movement by former deputy army chief. General Thomas Cirilo on Monday launched the National Salvation Front (NSF), declaring himself the leader of the faction. A statement extended to the media in Juba listed land grabbing, rampant corruption, tribalism and the general suffering of the civilians as key reasons for NSF’s bid to dislodge President Kiir militarily. Gen Cirilo cut ties with President Kiir after resigning from military service two months ago. He said his movement was purely seeking regime change in South Sudan so as to effect political and socio-economic transformation.
The new rebel chief vowed to rally the people across the country behind his movement to depose President Kiir, who he accused of implementing a tribal agenda. He said: “Correcting numerous mistakes is an enormous task that requires the participation of all citizens.”
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