PM Sogavare launches E-Passport system

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Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare, right, tries out the newly launched E-passport and Border Control and Management system under the watch of the Deputy Prime Minister and Supervising Minister for Commerce, Industries, Labour and Immigration, Hon Manasseh Maelanga.

The Government has today launched the Electronic Passport and Border Control Management System, just over a year since it signed an agreement with IRIS Corporation Berhad for installation of a new travel and border management security system.

The project is the first of its kind in the Pacific region and also the first successful Public-Private Partnership (PPP) model commissioned by the Democratic Coalition for Change Government (DCCG) under a Build-Own-Operate and Transfer model.

Malaysian company, IRIS Corporation Berhad (ICB), installed the Border Gate E-Passport machines at the Honiara International Airport that will be operated by the Immigration Department with ongoing technical support to be provided by the ICB.

The work on the installation of the new e-passport system, the setting up of the infrastructure and the training of Immigration Officers to operate the machines began in April earlier this year.

In his remarks to launch the new E-passport and Border Control and Managements System at the Honiara International Airport arrival lounge, an elated Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Sogavare declared that the new system will have enormous benefits for Solomon Islands citizens and the country as a whole.

“E-passport technology is expected to ease travelling burdens and reduce waiting time, departure check-in and arrival check-in procedures for citizens with the use of biometric technology,” the Prime Minister said.

He said the use of E-passports will also improve the controlling and managing of movement across the country’s national borders, whilst also strengthening the capacity of the border agencies such as Immigration and Customs departments to ensure strict compliance with national Immigration and Labour laws.

Additionally, the Prime Minister said that having the Border Control and Management System as an important feature of this new electronic system, will enable Immigration officers to perform their duties efficiently, minimizing unnecessary risks and threats to national security.

Further to other personal security features, faster visa processing by larger countries such as New Zealand and Australia can also benefit citizens, the Prime Minister said.

Now that the installation of the e-passport system is completed, the next step would be for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Ministry and External Trade to distribute a specimen of the e-passport to the border agencies of other countries.

“Over time, systematic improvements will become more clearer but the development of the e-passport is a milestone for our country and one that all Solomon Islanders can be proud of as a positive step towards the realisation of our social and economic development aspirations,” the Prime Minister said.

During the launch, the Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Hon Manasseh Maelanga, who is also the Supervising Minister for the Ministry of Commerce, Industry, Labour and Immigration, tried out the newly installed E-gate in a mock arrival procedure that saw the processing of their newly issued E-passports and both leaders highly commended the ‘faster and do-it-yourself process.’

The event was witnessed by other senior Cabinet Ministers, Permanent Secretaries, Senior Government officials and officials from the Immigration Department and Representatives of the IRIS Corporation Berhad.

Source: PM Press Secretariat

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