By: L.N. Reklai
(Koror, Palau) Regulations implementing collection of the $100 Environmental Impact Fee to be assessed from passengers coming to Palau is out for public review, announced Minister Elbuchel Sadang, Chairman of the Taskforce to Implement the Collection of EIF on Wednesday, December 21, 2016.
According to RPPL 9-49 as amended by 9-60, Palau will start collecting $100 from each passenger arriving into Palau starting April 1, 2017.
The law required that a Taskforce promulgate regulations to collect this fee in user-friendly manner.
“The proposal to have the airlines incorporate the fee into the tickets can’t immediately accepted due to the number of exemptions in the law, the clear process the airlines could follow to identify who are exempted and who are not and the delay due to clearinghouse process used by airlines for these types of payment,” stated Minister Sadang at a meeting with the members of the Belau Tourism Association.
The exemptions include children below 13 years of age, persons with valid work permit, persons with investor’s visa, a spouse of Palauan passport holder, diplomats, transit passengers and airline crew members.
“It is very difficult for airlines at this time to make determination on whether a person is a spouse of Palauan passport holder or not and that is just one complication,” said Sadang.
The Taskforce has come up with 3 payment options within the regulations. One would be an online payment. A company has been contracted to process this type of payment, according to Sadang. Second option would be to pay upon arrival and a third option is to pay upon departure.
According to Chief John Tarkong of Bureau of Customs, collection of payments will be handled by the Division of Immigration rather than the current practice of having collections processed by Customs. “This is because Immigration has access to information to verify individual’s status such an investor visa, worker’s permits and nationality to determine whether a person is eligible for exemption or not,” stated Tarkong.
“We are challenged by the limited space at the airport and we know there will be congestion at the arrival area and we are working to make that less congested by opening more booths and maybe designate some booth for say Palauans, airline crew members and permit holders only and such to help reduce the expected long lines and congestion,” added Tarkong.
There are also planned talks with Airport management and airlines about airline schedules and possibly spacing them out to reduce congestion as well.
Draft regulations are out in accordance with APA rules and public have 30 days to comment before they take effect. [/restrict]