LOCALIZATION TOO SLOW, PNG PARLIAMENT HEARS

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PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (August 8, 2001 - Post-Courier/PINA Nius Online)---Labor and Employment Minister Chris Haiveta has told Papua New Guinea's Parliament that expatriates are occupying jobs that should have been localized more than 10 years ago.

Mr. Haiveta said the expatriates concerned would train locals but sack them before the three years required for the locals to take over their jobs and then recruit other workers.

Mr. Haiveta made the comments during grievance debate in Parliament.

He was confirming Kainantu MP Baki Reipa’s concerns that foreigners had easy access to Cabinet ministers and were unnecessarily occupying jobs that could easily be done by Papua New Guineans.

Mr. Reipa said the easiness of access shows that there are a lot of weaknesses in the system. He called for an investigation by the Labor and Employment Ministry and Department into jobs Papua New Guineans were capable of doing but were held by foreigners.

Citing his own experience as a worker in the mining industry, he said foreigners were still occupying many positions, which should have been localized many years ago. He said that in some cases, the Papua New Guineans were more qualified and yet the less qualified expatriate occupied and maintained the senior position.

In response, Mr. Haiveta said all organizations or firms in PNG that have expatriate workers must have a three-year training and localization plan.

"Every firm has to submit this if they have expatriates or foreigners working for them and within those training and localization programs they have Papua New Guinean understudies," he said.

"I know we will be rising from Parliament this week so I won’t have the chance to table this report on the performance -- actual performance – of training and localization programs of all companies in Papua New Guinea.

"But I can make a commitment that in the next session of Parliament I will be tabling that particular performance of last year so we can have a good debate about all the problems that we face in this particular area," he said.

"The only thing I want to say at this point in time is that it is a big problem.

"It is a big problem. Some of our friends -- and I don’t want to go expatriate bashing but I have to admit that, yes, it is true -- have been here for 11, 12, 13 years.

"They have national counterparts who they train for only one or two years and they get rid of them.

"And then they bring in new ones. In that way they (have) retained their positions up to today.

Mr. Haiveta said many foreigners were not qualified for the jobs they were doing and in some instances nationals were better qualified.

"If you go through their files you will find some of them don’t even qualify; they don’t have the qualifications or the experience that the national has yet they have that position.

Mr. Haiveta promised the House a thorough review of the employment of expatriates that are supposed to be understudied by nationals.

"So the concern that has been raised by the Member for Kainantu are legitimate and I will go through the number of problems we face in training as well as in management," said Mr. Haiveta.

For additional reports from The Post-Courier, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Newspapers/The Post-Courier (Papua New Guinea).

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: http://www.pinanius.org 

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