Minister for Immigration and Border Security Assumes Responsibility for Work Permit Laws

Prime Minister James Marape has today announced new ministerial arrangements for the administration of the government's work permit program.

These new arrangements have arisen because of amendments that were made to the Immigration and Citizenship Services Act and the Employment of Non-citizens Act, which will see the work permit function transferring to the PNG Immigration and Citizenship Authority (ICA).

Under the new arrangements, Minister for Immigration and Border Security, the Hon. Westly Nukundj takes on responsibility for work permit laws from the Minister for Labour and Industrial Relations.

"The creation of a "one-stop-shop" for visas and work permits has been a long-standing policy of both my government and those that came before it. I am pleased that through these legislative changes we can start the process of reducing red tape for the business community and integrating the work permit requirements into our visa systems creating a single, integrated approval process", Mr Marape said.

The Prime Minister indicated that the reforms will also support border protection and border security for the nation.

"The duplication of functions and services that has existed in the past has allowed a small minority of disreputable businesses to exploit weaknesses in the system. By centralising all aspects of foreign worker approval in the one agency, we can improve issues including data protection, and compliance and enforcement activities, both at the border and in the field", the Prime Minister said. 

Initially, the work permit function will physically transfer to ICA headquarters in the Central Government Office. Once that has occurred, additional work will take place to commence the integration of systems, and the development of a new and modern Migration Act that will see the introduction of a single form, single fee, and single visa product.

"My vision, over time, is to integrate more of our border protection functions so that we can harness economies of scale, maximise our intelligence capability and prevent harm to PNG caused by every increasing levels of trans-national crime", the Prime Minister said.

The Prime Minister also assured Papua New Guineans that the Department of Labour and industrial Relations will continue to play an important role in determining what jobs should be reserved for citizens.

"The protection of jobs and industries for our own people remains critical. The work permit program is there to address gaps and skills shortages, but the Department of Labour will continue to monitor the labour market and determine which jobs should be available to foreign workers", Mr Marape said.