No need for overtime fees in Immigration Act, say foreign groups
FOREIGN groups have opposed “overtime” provisions in the proposed Immigration Act, stressing that these are no longer needed if the government is bent on modernizing immigration services.
In a statement, the Joint Foreign Chambers (JFC) said it has recommended to the House and Senate committees on justice that the proposed Immigration Act under consideration should not include a provision to authorize the charging of overtime fees against airline companies and shippers.
More specifically, the JFC has urged lawmakers to delete the section that authorizes the Immigration Commissioner to assign immigration employees “to do overtime work or services to be prescribed at rates fixed by the Commissioner of Immigration when the service rendered is to be paid for by the airline, shipping companies or other persons served.”
The group has further asked lawmakers to remove the authority of the Bureau of Immigration to “allocate a percentage share from its income generated to pay for 24/7 operations and to include any overtime payments in its annual budget.”Part of the modernization of immigration services is the ability of government to match the 24/7 operations of international airlines, our major partner in tourism development. The practice of charging overtime fees, meals, and transportation allowances to international airlines should now be removed and replaced with one where services provided by BI personnel, as employees of the government, are duly compensated by the State from its budget. This will accord with international practice and the current policy of the Aquino Administration,” the JFC explained.
The foreign business groups, however, have clarified that they are supporting government efforts to modernize immigration services through the proposed Philippine Immigration Act and other ongoing reforms.
“The objective of the bill is to make immigration services more enabling to promote tourism and commerce. We believe these efforts will help make the Philippine tourism, long stay, and retirement industries more competitive with the rest of our Asean neighbors and help the country grow twice as fast as recommended in Arangkada Philippines 2010,” the JFC said.
“As international traffic continues to grow, especially with implementation of the liberal air access policy at secondary gateways, any shortage of personnel relative to the growth of passenger traffic should be addressed with an increase in the workforce at the expense of the national government,” it added. SFM/ABC
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