24 Aug 2002

PNG government to overhaul visa and entry permits

8:43 am on 24 August 2002

Papua New Guinea's new Foreign Minister Sir Rabbie Namaliu is promising to overhaul the country's corrupt and mismanaged visa system.

Problems in getting entry permits are seen as a major impediment to foreign businesses operating in PNG.

Sir Rabbie, who is a former prime minister, says chronic underfunding and corruption has made the Department of Foreign Affairs an "enormous embarrassment" for PNG.

He says he wants to clean up PNG's visa-issuing processes to remove any possibility for corrupt or illegal practices.

And he says he will try and make the department's head office open at night and on weekends.

While the government will next week hand down what is expected to be a harsh supplementary budget, Sir Rabbie says there will be enough money to weed-out corrupt officials and to pay long-overdue phone and electricity bills.

Sir Rabbie says foreigners who illegally obtain a PNG passport will be charged, deported and prevented from re-entering the country.

He says that is the government's non-negotiable decision and it will be vigorously enforced.