The new Minister of Public Service and Labour Anastase Murekezi has said that government is not going to back track on its commitment to scrap work permits for foreigners. He made the clarification following a recent mix-up attributed to him by the press, which had made government appear like it did not have a final position on the issue yet. His predecessor Professor Nshuti Manasseh had just before he left to become Senior Advisor to the President on Economic Affairs retracted remarks he had earlier made to the effect that only foreigners with master’s degrees would be exempted.
Murekezi categorically stated that he had no intention of reinventing the wheel.
The press had reported last week that doing away with work permits for foreigners would have to wait until the soon to be released national skills audit findings pointed out most lacking areas in the national labour fabric.
One thing that is not debatable is the fear the skills audit, which will be made public next week, will confirm – Rwanda is in extreme need for specialised skills.
What can only be anticipated are the exact figures but not establishing whether those figures are really bad. And if that premise that the national labour market is severely starved of certain crucial skills is agreeable to all, then there is no point waiting for the audit results for some very necessary policies to be devised and actually implemented.
For instance government does not need to wait for the audit to embark on a serious mission to lure doctors, accountants, statisticians and engineers from out. World Health Organisation has got not so old statistics that can be relied on in order to kick start the urgent campaign.
Only 903 medical doctors available leave Rwanda with a 1:16,136 doctor-patient ratio. WHO recommends at least 1:10,000.
Central government and all its agencies have at their disposal country wide only 258 accountants and budget officers. For this number not to be deceptive, it has to be noted that only a handful of these possess the right qualifications loke ACCA or CPA.
Big gaps inherent in this area, it can be said, are the reason proper accountability procedures in government institutions are rarely adhered to. Observers also point to the inefficiency being what often results into delays of the Auditor General’s reports.
It is because of the chronic lateness that characterises submission of data by institutions.
Rwanda cannot bridge the existent skills gaps until it summons the dynamism and determination needed to tackle the deficiency. That is the perspective through which the work permits waiver ought to be seen.