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By Denys Iorere

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (May 27, 2002 - The National/PINA Nius Online)---Port Moresby's Chamber of Commerce and Industry is unhappy about delays in the processing of work permits to allow expatriates into Papua New Guinea.

President David Conn said: "We are complaining about delays in processing of legitimate paperwork, delays in assessing applications and delays in advising agents if there is a problem the department wishes to query or address.

"The Department of Labor and Employment now tell us they will tighten the screening procedures and throw in the red-herring of sovereign nation to obscure the real issues."

Mr. Conn said the department should respond to the concerns about its performance. It should not introduce spurious arguments designed to raise emotions and detract from the real issues of performance within the department, he said.

He added: "Many of our members have long and illustrious records in PNG and do not need to be brow-beaten with such types of comments questioning their commitment to this country.

"We have no complaints about following the laws of this country, but think we have every right to demand fair, speedy and equitable treatment for all companies from our public servants, when the proper documentation is lodged."

Mr. Conn said the chamber has welcomed a proposal that a permit should take six weeks to approve.

"We need to ask whether the permit system has achieved what it was intended to do.

"One would have to have serious doubts when there are many examples of foreigners working in reserved occupations, such as kai bars, without even a smattering of English, Pidgin or Motu."

He added that these are the people who are taking jobs away from ordinary Papua New Guineans and not the senior executives and investors who actually create employment and opportunities.

"We believe it is a disincentive to investors when they discover that government officials have an active role, through the work permit system forms, in dictating salaries and incentives employees can receive.

"If an investor or company is genuine, a number of positions should be granted, and as long as the proposed employee does not breach the legal, health, insurance or professional body requirements of our sovereign nation, the employer alone dictates who they employ and what they pay them.

"This should not be the role of a government genuinely interested in attracting investment."

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

Pacific Islands News Association (PINA) Website: 

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