(Bloomberg) -- South Africa will slash the time taken to issue work permits to foreign executives and technicians employed by the biggest companies in the country, in a bid to lure overseas investors. 

Under the so-called Trusted Employer Scheme, a pilot of which was introduced in October, work permit processing times will be cut to 20 days from 22 weeks, the Department of Home Affairs said in a statement on Tuesday.

The Southern African-German Chamber of Commerce and Industry, which represents companies operating in South Africa including Volkswagen AG and Bayer AG, has previously said that the difficulty in securing work permits limited investment and threatened 100,000 jobs in the country. 

“This is one scheme that will allow South Africa to more easily attract skills and manage immigration, particularly in the processing of applications for senior executives, technical personnel, corporate employees and investors,” Aaron Motsoaledi, South Africa’s Home Affairs minister, said in the statement. 

Companies under the program will have their applications given a higher priority and will be subject to fewer requirements and demands for supporting documentation. 

South Africa’s Presidency, which recommended the creation of of the program among other steps in a report last year, has said a skills crisis is the second-biggest threat to economic growth after recurrent power outages. 

(Updates with detail on complaints from first paragraph, minister’s comment in fourth)

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