After repeated complaints from Ugandans living in the diaspora over charges for obtaining dual citizenship, the government has promised to revisit the issue with the view to lowering costs.
The good news was delivered by the Government Chief Whip Ruth Nankabirwa during last Sunday’s Ugandan North American Association (UNAA) conference that was held in Miami, Florida.
Nankabirwa assured Ugandans in the Diaspora that government is working on revising the visa fees for those intending to travel to Uganda. However, she warned that any considerations of waiving or reducing of fees is likely to favour those with bigger families.
Nankabirwa said the matter was communicated to the Executive by the Speaker of Parliament earlier on and a directive was made to the State Minister for Internal Affairs Obiga Kania to table a paper to cabinet that government can review it.
She however urged the diaspora to consider the charges as costs of regaining their citizenship which they relinquished.
“These are fees for a service. You are not buying citizenship, but you’re paying for regaining citizenship that you automatically lost when you acquired citizenship of another country, She urged them to consider the process as similar to the one of obtaining a new passport.
“When your passport expires you pay fees to get a new travel document, likewise the US $400 are fees and this can be revisited. The concern is especially for people with big families, 4 or 5 people; You and your spouse, children…that is what is making us to revisit,” Nankabirwa told Ugandan-Americans.
Speaker of Parliament, Rebecca Kadaga, further urged those who are displeased with the charges to be more patriotic saying that they don’t want to pay for services rendered yet they pay heavier taxes to the United States government.
“You spend so much in taxes paying it to the United States but you cannot part with a mere US$ 400 for your own country” . Kadaga said.
Kadaga however hailed what she considered great progress from the situation where Ugandans automatically lost their citizenship the moment they got citizenship of other countries.
“I am happy to note that our continuous interactions have brought us this far; to see that we have national identity card and dual-citizenship registration going on at the convention now,” Kadaga said.
Although Uganda’s constitution does not provide for dual citizenship, the enactment of the Uganda Citizenship and Immigration Control (Amendment) Act, 2009, loosened the definition of a citizen by providing for Ugandans to hold more than one citizenship if applicants meet the neccesary requirements and fees.
Kadaga was responding to concerns by some sections of Ugandans in the diaspora who argued that since they remit a lot of money to Uganda, they ought not to be charged the US$ 400 to acquire dual citizenship. They also argued that the process of acquiring dual citizenship was tedious.