Gorethy Kenneth | Post Courier | June 25, 2019
The government will review the fly in-fly out (FIFO) workforce arrangements for foreign workers. This may now put an end to K91 million spent annually on this exercise. Minister for Immigration and Border Security Petrus Thomas announced this yesterday.
Mr Thomas said the Immigration and Citizen Authority (ICA) is now looking at issuing long-term working residence visas by next year which is in line with its organisational reform and improvement of service delivery under its Five-year Corporate Development Plan (2018-22).
The Minister referred to the study carried out by National Research Institute in 1997 on the effects of fly in-fly out on the Porgera mining project which revealed that the PNG economy was losing between K36 million and K91 million annually on direct national income.
He said the Bougainville Copper Mine had successfully maintained a small satellite mining town with classic facilities that were built to accommodate workers for the Bougainville Copper Mine.
“There was sufficient cash flow injected directly into the local communities with high returns gained from the capital investments, he said.
Mr Thomas said these changes to the frequent abuse of the 60-day multiple entry visa by foreigners had prompted him to suspend it last year.
“The multiple entry visa category had been reviewed and will be introduced again once cabinet approves the new conditions, fees and guidelines,” he said.
Similarly, Mr Thomas was of the view that the fly in-fly out practice has also been abused by many foreign em-ployers and contractors after receiving criticisms lately from MPs and concerned landowners of resource project areas.
“The fly in-fly out practice may have worked in some short-lived projects, but the impact of FIFO and contribution to host communities, their social welfare and economy has never been truly assessed in long-term projects,” he said.
Mr Thomas said part of the issue lies in the distant lack of national data. “Various agencies supposed to be integrated to streamline these processes had not succeeded,” he said.
“There was no viable data or studies carried out in the past to justify foreign workers’ fly in-fly outs continuous practice.
“It appears that PNG has been under the notion that the FIFO system works in every particular way and no one bothered to review it.”
Mr Thomas said while the government is embarking on developing few new resource projects like Wafi-Golpu and the Papua LNG Project, it should also be mindful of such fly in-fly out arrangements that could potentially suck opportunities during this thriving economic situation.