By Rhealyn C. Pojas
Following the complaints regarding the long lines or congestions at the Palau airport’s Immigration booth for people wanting to claim their Pristine Paradise Environmental Fee (PPEF) refund, Justice Minister and Vice President Raynold Oilouch suggested alternative ways for the public to make their transactions convenient.
In an interview at the Office of the Vice President yesterday, Oilouch said that they are very much aware of the complaints from the people regarding the PPEF refund transaction at the airport as he himself received some of the complaints. [restrict]
“We just started [the implementation] beginning January. This is the second month of the implementation of the PPEF. It’s not easy for us at the immigration, and we’re learning as we go along,” Oilouch expressed.
According to Oilouch, after they began the implementation, they had held meetings to improve the implementation and that they wanted to assure the public that they are trying their best to address the problem.
Oilouch then asked the travelling public who are getting their refund to claim it instead on their way out at the departure area so that they will not have to wait long.
“The reason why we established that departure as one of the points where you can get your refund is to ease the congestion as people arrived, so I recommend and asked the public that that is the best place to get your refund…on the way out,” Oilouch explained.
For those who also wanted to claim their refund on their way in to Palau and do not want to wait at the airport for long because of the long line, Oilouch suggested that they could come to the main office in Koror and get their refund a day after their travel or within the next 15 days after they arrived in Palau.
“I completely understand. From what we’ve been hearing…when people arrived, they get angry because they had to end up in line waiting to get the refund. So if you don’t want to wait there, please come to the main office to get your refund,” Oilouch said.
“But if they want to get their refund at the arrival, it’s a little bit difficult for us given the number of booths over there because you know there are only six booths,” Oilouch added.
When asked whether they have plans to add some more officers who will man additional booths, Oilouch said that they are looking at their budget and if their budget permits it, they would like to get more officers.
Oilouch also reiterated that the only people entitled to the PPEF refund are Palauans who are going on their personal trips or foreigners who are married to Palauans, diplomats and flight pilots and crews, and those who are in transit.
The PPEF had just been implemented on January 1 this year which charged $100 environmental fee to every visitor coming to Palau. The fee is automatically included in the amount of the ticket being purchased and it will serve as the primary financing mechanism for the Palau National Marine Sanctuary (PNMS). [/restrict]