Minister Maru said the delay in processing visa applications is a hindrance to trade and investment.
He said during his visit to India in December 2017, he was advised by individuals from various sectors about the delay in approving visas to PNG, which sometimes took months.
Minister Maru said countries around the world, even our nearest neighbours, have reformed their visa requirements and processes, making it much easier for persons from other countries to travel.
He said PNG is still lagging and called for more outsourcing of visa processing with stringent guidelines.
Maru stated that improving the process will attract more tourists, even trade and investment officials.
“The rest of the world have gone down the path of reform. They are now doing e-passports and they are now doing outsourcing of visa processing.
“So private companies process the visa, they work to a standard of two days, otherwise they lose their contract, but they have to deliver on time.
“The whole of India, they don’t send immigration staff to other countries, it’s all done by private companies. Australia has gone down that path, New Zealand has gone down that path, the whole world is reformed,” said Maru.
Maru made the statement in the presence of Minster for Lands and APEC, Justin Tkatchenko, who he asked to make it an action point of his as part of APEC preparations.
Minster Maru said he has written to Immigration & Border Security Minister, Petrus Thomas, regarding the matter.
“I really feel it’s time for PNG before we really kick into the APEC year, for us to look at reform and really trial this outsourcing.
“Let’s look at how best we can speed up the visa issue.
“Yes we don’t want to compromise national security, that’s very important, but if other countries can take into account national security and deliver in two days, Minister surely as part of our APEC undertaking, we should look at a system that allows us to process visas within two days.”
Meanwhile, Minster Tkatchenko said currently all focus is on ensuring APEC visa and paperwork of all officials are ready.
He said they are working closely with immigration to allow easy access for APEC.
“The Immigration Department is working with the Chief Migration Officer and the Minister, working to ensure that access in our current system that we have now is dedicated.
“APEC lanes for customs and immigration at the airport are already set up.
“The priority is for all people coming here for APEC is to have their visas processed in less than five days. Now that’s on a manual situation, it’s not on the new system you’re talking about. But we’re working very closely in the last two years to get that right.”
(Loop file pic)