14 September 2015 13:41:32 IST

Tata International frustrated over SAfrican visa delays

‘Will talk to South African government about its frustrations’

Tata group firm Tata International is becoming increasingly frustrated by delays of up to six months to secure visas for its employees assigned to South Africa from where it operates in 14 other African nations, the company’s chairman Noel Tata has said.

“It is increasingly time-consuming to get visas for business,” Tata told the weekly City Press.

“We believe that, as a supervisory business, we ought to be granted a faster, quicker employment of visas to get into South Africa. We had to post people to Tanzania because it is easier to get visas and work permits there then in South Africa,” said Tata.

The company manages various subsidiary businesses in the group, including a vehicle assembly plant near Pretoria.

About 50 staff members at its head office in Johannesburg manages all its African operations, which contributes $373 million to Tata International’s overall business, which it hopes to double within the next five years.

Tata said while he understood that a significant portion of the company’s employees at its head office had to be South Africans, it still needed to recruit critical managers, such as strategic planning and financial control officers, from outside the country as well. Reacting to a question about whether the visa irritation could lead to Tata International rethinking its decision to base its African operations in Johannesburg, Tata told the weekly that this was not a consideration at the moment.

He said his company would talk to South African government about its frustrations.

Tata’s comments came in the wake of concerns expressed by a number of chief executives of Indian firms with a presence in South Africa at a recent seminar between the India Business Forum and the Premier of the province of Gauteng, which is the economic hub of South Africa.

The company heads expressed concerns about delays in bringing in staff from India, which Premier David Makhura undertook to raise with his government.