SA im­mi­gra­tion waivers a two-way street for Eswa­tini- Econ­o­mist

Observer on Saturday - - News - By Ackel Zwane [www.brand­southafrica.com]

While Eswa­tini cel­e­bra­tions waivers of a num­ber of im­mi­gra­tion re­stric­tions with neigh­bour­ing South Africa es­pe­cially af­fi­davits for un­der age chil­dren, the eco­nomic im­pacts could have both neg­a­tive and pos­i­tive spinoffs, says lo­cal econ­o­mist Sanele Sibiya. He was re­spond­ing to re­quest for a break­down of the over­all eco­nomic im­pli­ca­tions to the coun­try, whether South Africa was only be­ing gen­er­ous or it was an­nounc­ing a cal­cu­lated pro­gramme of long term ben­e­fits for it­self.

South Africa an­nounced it would ease some im­mi­gra­tion rules, in­clud­ing agree­ing visa waiver agree­ments with more coun­tries, in an ef­fort to boost in­vest­ment and tourism, Home Af­fairs Min­is­ter Malusi Gi­gaba said on Tues­day.

The changes are part of a broader eco­nomic turn­around pro­gramme an­nounced by that coun­try’s Pres­i­dent Cyril Ramaphosa a fort­night ago where he said he sought tores­cue his coun­try out of re­ces­sion.

Gi­gaba said ne­go­ti­a­tions were be­ing fi­nalised to con­clude visa waiver agree­ments with more than a dozen coun­tries across Africa, the Mid­dle East and East­ern Europe, in­clud­ing Saudi Ara­bia, Iran, Egypt, Qatar and the UAE.

He added that much-crit­i­cised rules on trav­el­ing mi­nors would be sim­pli­fied. In June 2015 new rules re­quired par­ents to carry an unabridged birth cer­tifi­cate for ac­com­pa­ny­ing chil­dren and con­sent let­ters from par­ents who were not trav­el­ling.

The tourism in­dus­try said the reg­u­la­tions, which came into ef­fect dur­ing Gi­gaba’s pre­vi­ous ten­ure as home af­fairs min­is­ter, were hurt­ing busi­ness.

Eco­nomic

South Africa says it plays a crit­i­cal eco­nomic role in ad­mit­ting over 10 mil­lion in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors an­nu­ally, which in­cludes tourists, busi­ness trav­el­ers, in­vestors and neigh­bours. Mil­lions of jobs are sus­tained by the eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity gen­er­ated by these trav­el­ers. Gi­gaba fur­ther said by al­low­ing in­ward mi­gra­tion of skilled work­ers such as in­vestors, doc­tors, re­searchers and oth­ers through the visa and per­mit regime would boost na­tional devel­op­ment.[www.iol.co.za]

He, how­ever, warned that his de­part­ment was com­mit­ted to find­ing and im­ple­ment­ing in­no­va­tive im­mi­gra­tion man­age­ment so­lu­tions to pos­i­tively im­pact on tourism and eco­nomic devel­op­ment.

On the other hand Sibiya noted that with re­gards to move­ment, as much as the coun­try en­cour­aged in­te­gra­tion which al­lows for best eco­nomic best prac­tices, South Africa, as the ma­jor pro­ducer would re­duce cost per unit which even­tu­ally makes the prod­ucts cheaper, there is the flip­side in that the in­fant in­dus­try at home would need pro­tec­tion.

He fur­ther clar­i­fied that as much as brain drain did hap­pen, peo­ple would still re­mit money de­rived as in­comes from South Africa to sup­port their fam­i­lies in Eswa­tini and of­ten this money is sub­stan­tial given the em­ploy­ment sit­u­a­tion of Eswa­tini. Sibiya agreed that there is a highly skilled work­force in the mar­ket that re­mains un­em­ployed and if this were to se­cure em­ploy­ment in South Africa they would generate huge in­comes given the re­mu­ner­a­tion regime of the neigh­bour­ing coun­try com­pared to Eswa­tini.

“But if these peo­ple do not re­turn back home that is a dif­fer­ent ball game al­to­gether.” In that and other sce­nario the coun­try must there­fore con­sider a strat­egy of how much tax must these peo­ple pay back to the coun­try.

He ob­serves that the waivers, given the eco­nomic sit­u­a­tion ob­tain­ing in Eswa­tini, could be a quick win but “if not care­ful it may re­sult in brain drain be­cause of the wage dif­fer­en­tials.” Ide­ally, he says, the wage must sta­biles but this takes time, giv­ing the ex­am­ple whereby nurses left the coun­try en­masse for Europe where they got bet­ter wages thus af­fect­ing the whole struc­ture of basic skills lo­cally.

“We only need strategies to bal­ance these dis­crep­an­cies as wages are higher in South Africa and basic skilled work­eres will be at­tracted to that labour mar­ket and there would be no way to at­tract rightly skilled peo­ple to re­turn.

New visa rules as of Oc­to­ber 2014, re­quired vis­i­tors to ap­ply for visas in per­son at South African em­bassies to record bio­met­ric in­for­ma­tion.

There was also a rule for chil­dren un­der 18 years old trav­el­ling in and out of South Africa to pro­duce an unabridged birth cer­tifi­cate at en­try ports, which in­cluded de­tailed par­tic­u­lars of the mother and the father of the child.

While these re­quire­ments were nec­es­sary to safe­guard the best in­ter­ests of chil­dren and pre­vent child traf­fick­ing, an In­ter-Min­is­te­rial Com­mit­tee (IMC) on Im­mi­gra­tion made sev­eral rec­om­men­da­tions to deal with the se­cu­rity con­sid­er­a­tion and the un­in­tended con­se­quences of the reg­u­la­tions on var­i­ous sec­tors, in­clud­ing tourism and in­vest­ment.

Al­lowances

The amended al­lowances re­quired South African chil­dren trav­el­ling through South African bor­ders to have their par­ents’ iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and cit­i­zen­ship de­tails printed in their pass­ports, do­ing away with the re­quire­ment to carry unabridged birth cer­tifi­cates on en­try or exit.

For school tours and other group tours in­clud­ing un­der-age chil­dren, en­try and exit reg­u­la­tions only re­quired con­fir­ma­tion let­ters from the school prin­ci­pals or a sim­i­lar au­thor­ity, along with the amended pass­port re­quire­ments.

This au­thor­ity was also ex­tended to in­clude reg­is­tered sports bodies on tour.

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