Uganda government should increase budget allocation for consular services and empowering of the embassies to engage in monitoring of the migrant workers in addition to the other responsibilities arising from labour externalisation. This was a call by H.E. Ambassador, Margaret Kedisi, Minister Counsellor, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs while speaking at a high-level meeting on “strengthening Uganda’s regulatory and monitoring arrangements for labour externalization.”
The meeting was organized by Economic Policy Research Centre (EPRC) in conjunction with INCLUDE Knowledge Platform under the auspices of the African Policy Dialogues funded by the Netherlands Government. It took place at Onomo hotel in Kampala.
Ambassador Kedisi noted that monitoring labour externalisation has come with humongous responsibilities because of the sheer number of Ugandans seeking to go out. She said Ministry of Foreign Affairs handles issuance of travel documents or replacement documents, handling visa expiry, visiting Ugandans in prison or hospital, connecting families, offering counselling services in case of abuse and domestic violence, and conducting marriages.
All this happens when the budget, personnel and embassies haven’t been equipped with the needed capacities.
“The scale and magnitude of Ugandans going abroad has increased especially in the Middle East where most externalised Ugandans work but nothing has been done to upgrade staffing levels and capacities nor increase funding to cater for transport, stationery, telephone, and other required logistical services,” she said, further explaining that most of the externalised labourers work long distances away from the embassies and often in homes which makes monitoring very difficult.
The meeting was aimed at identification of suitable and feasible short term and medium-term actions that could be part of the government’s broader strategy of formulating regulatory, monitoring, policy, and institutional arrangements that foster safe, secure, and sustainable labour externalisation.
In her remarks, EPRC executive director Dr. Sarah N. Ssewanyana, expressed concern that management and monitoring of labour externalisation was still a major challenge for the country. Dr. Ssewanyana’s message was read on her behalf by Dr. Madina Guloba, a senior research fellow at EPRC.
She said she was confident that the high-level policy dialogue would help strengthen and improve the regulatory and monitoring arrangements of labour externalisation in Uganda.
Meanwhile, Dr. Guloba noted that the EPRC research had found several inadequacies, including limited negotiations for Bi Lateral Agreements (BLAs), inadequate monitoring, especially of the operations of the recruitment firms, and inadequate staffing at both the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MoFA) and Ministry of Gender, Labour, and Social Development (MoGLSD).
Hon Flavia Kabahenda, the chairperson for the Gender Committee in Parliament, expressed gratitude that such discussions backed by research are happening. She said it was overdue that government gets involved in other aspects of externalisation other than just providing safe pathways or offering licenses