System not benefitting locals: Study

Papua New Guinea’s work permit system is not benefiting local workers.

This is according to a research done by PNG’s think tank institute; PNG National Research Institute (PNG NRI).

The purpose of the Work Permit System, under which non-citizens are employed in PNG’s private sector, is to benefit businesses and Papua New Guinean.

The report states that in practice, there have been few benefits for Papua New Guinean workers. In particular, little skills transfer has taken place.

PNG faces chronic skill shortages, particularly in technical areas therefore, under the Work Permit System, businesses can import skills to overcome these shortages.

There are two objectives under the current system, which is regulated by the Employment of Non-Citizens Act 2007.

The report states that the first objective is to allow businesses to attract and retain qualified, skilled and experienced non-citizen workers and the second objective is to promote the creation of employment, training and skills acquisition for Papua New Guineans.

Unfortunately for Papua New Guineans, companies have to demonstrate that training and skills transfer has taken place only when a work permit is due for renewal.

This means, there is no monitoring of skills transfer during the three years for which most work permits are issued.

Meanwhile, Minister for Trade, Commerce and Industry, Wera Mori, has called on the Department of Foreign Affairs and Labour and Industry to be tough in issuing work permits to expatriates.

Mori made this call when questioned about the Government’s plans, especially in dealing with Asians dominating small business operations.

Minister Mori claimed that Asians are illegally running canteens in settlements and other semi-urban areas without proper work permits.


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Annette Kora