A DELEGATION from the Solomon Islands Customs & Excise Division was here in Port Moresby this week for a series of bilateral talks with the PNG Customs Service on issues concerning the mutual border shared by PNG and Solomon Islands.
The Solomon Islands delegation, led by Comptroller Nathan Kama, met with his PNG counterpart Chief Commissioner Ray Paul and his executives for the second bilateral meeting since they signed an agreement three years ago to work closely together to address border issues.
Also in attendance was High Commissioner of Solomon Islands to PNG and senior official from Department of Foreign Affairs.
During the discussions, both administrations reaffirmed their commitment to cooperate, share resources and assist each other in building their capacities within the spirit of the MOU in order to effectively deal with and address cross border crimes and issues along the PNG-Solomon Island borders.
Issues discussed were centred on how to strengthen their capacities to effectively address cross border crimes and issues.
They agreed to conduct joint enforcement activities along the stretch of the border, and establish facilities at their respective locations along the border as check points to monitor and facilitate legitimate movement of people, cargoes and conveyances between PNG and Solomon Islands.
They also reviewed the MOU aimed at deepening their cooperation on sharing of information, joint enforcement operations and capacity building.
The border between PNG and Solomon Islands has never been manned since Independence of both countries and has been an ongoing concern for both countries in terms of trade in illicit goods and contraband, movement of people and cargo and third country nationals’ movement.
The key part of the discussion was centred on reporting points for travellers between the two countries. As a way forward, the meeting agreed that from PNG side, anyone that intends to depart PNG must report to the offices in Autonomous Region of Bougainville. The designated offices are ports of Buka, Arawa and Buin. On the other side of Solomon Islands, the designated offices are Kulitana and Gizo as a starting point.
Both organisations will be working with their respective government on the declaration of other reporting points that are convenient for travellers.
In PNG, they will be Sirovai and Kangu, while in Solomon Island they will be Kariki and Taro. The meeting agreed to trial this reporting points concept for the next 3 months and will fully implement the strategy by June this year.
This is important for data collation and monitoring of people movement. Furthermore, the meeting also acknowledged the ongoing discussions and work by the technical working committee on Traditional Border Crossers headed by Department of Foreign Affairs.
It is important that all travellers must plan to have proper documentation in place before planning travel.
PNG Customs Service will work closely with PNG Immigration Citizenship Service Authority and other government organisation for the smooth implementation of these important Strategy.
The discussions acknowledged the significant roles both Customs administrations play in their respective economy and reassure their commitments and aspirations to embrace measures that will enhance and strengthen their roles in their economies.
They both agreed to have the bilateral meeting on annual basis to review their performances under the MOU.