10 May 2004

It could take ten years to register all Papua New Guineans

11:09 am on 10 May 2004

The civil registrar of Papua New Guinea says it could take ten years to turn around the country's extremely low rate of birth registration.

Only 60,000 of the country's population of 5.2 million has a birth certificate, a situation which is causing headaches for authorities trying to stop everything from electoral fraud to people smuggling.

Civil Registrar Betty Billy says a campaign offering free registration has had a good response.

She says the churches, as the community focal point for births and marriages, have some of the best unofficial records and the registry is using them to encourage the population to get registered.

"We are not trying to reinvent new systems, we want to at least revisit the old systems and maybe improve them."