3 Oct 2003

PNG businesses reel from government freeze on work permits

6:00 pm on 3 October 2003

The president of Port Moresby's Chamber of Commerce, David Conn says the Papua New Guinea government's move to freeze the renewal of work permits for expatriates will punish legitimate businesses.

The ban is part of a directive to crackdown on illegal immigrants living and working in PNG, announced by Labour and Employment minister Peter Yama.

While Mr Conn praises the minister's intention to tackle the problem of illegal immigrants, he says those illegal workers are not in their chamber of businesses.

He says he doubts whether the figure of 10,000 illegal immigrants is realistic, but the problem has been an ongoing one.

"They, in many cases will find that these people have work permits issued by the Department of Labour. Now the question in many cases is, one of the prerequisites for a work permit in Papua New Guinea, is you must have language skills in either english, pidgeon or motu. In the national airport, the international domestic airport Port Moresby there are people of chinese origin working there who cannot speak english. The question remains who gave them their work permits."

David Conn