Government will start printing and issuing special identification cards for foreigners known as Alien Identity Cards from the National Identification Registration Authority (NIRA) has started with the Indian community, a senior official has revealed.
To be registered, foreigners require certified copies of a resident permit, a work permit, a passport amd a payment receipt from the Uganda Revenue Authority of Shs364,000 ($100), the NIRA public relations manager, Mr. Gilbert Kandilo says.
NIRA will later this year roll out the programme to other foriegners after the registration of the Indians who since their return to the country in the 1980s and 1990s, have once again become a pillar of the country’s economy.
“We decided to start with the Indian community because they are organised and it will be easy to register them,” Mr. Kandilo said, adding that an alien identity card is proof of legal stay in Uganda.
Despite making up less than one per cent of the population, they are estimated to contribute up to 65 per cent of Uganda’s tax revenues.
About 50,000 Asians were forced to leave the country in 1972, on the orders of former President Idi Amin, who accused them of “milking Uganda’s money”.
So many Indians now live in the country and majority of them run businesses such as cosmetic shops, jewelry shops, fabric shops, supermarkets and so on. In fact, Indians make up the biggest percentage of foreigners in the country but Mr. Jacob Siminyu, the spokesperson of Ministry of Internal Affairs says he doesn’t have ready data on how many they are in Uganda today.
But going forward, NIRA insists without an alien identity card, an individual may not purchase property, access education, telecommunications or employment.
Culprits will find themselves victims of arrest for illegal entry and stay in Uganda.
Efforts to get a comment from the Indian High Commissioner to Uganda, Mr. Ravi Shanker were futile by press time.