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11 February 1998
The Government has decided to fully recover the cost of clearing passengers, aircraft and sea vessels at the New Zealand border.
The Government has decided that a policy of recovering all costs through a charge on all airport and port companies would spread costs more fairly than the current system. Currently, regional airports offering international flights, such as Waikato and Palmerston North, pay for border clearance services, but the main metropolitan airports (Auckland, Christchurch and Wellington) have their services paid for by the Crown.
The proposed new policy would also shift the cost of the services from the New Zealand taxpayer onto the travelling public. Increasing numbers of international tourists are placing greater demands on existing border services, posing a potentially greater risk. Moreover, half the people serviced at New Zealand ports of entry each year are non-residents, but their clearance is currently paid for by New Zealand taxpayers.
Costs will be recovered by charging port companies (both airport and sea port) unless consultation with those companies shows that there is a more effective way to recover these costs.
The charge is intended to cover the cost of clearance services provided by the Ministry of Agriculture's Quarantine Service, the New Zealand Customs Services and the New Zealand Immigration Service. These services (see note below) are currently funded primarily through tax, with the exception of the NZIS which is collected from visa and permit fees, with the total cost of these services for the current financial year estimated at nearly $32 million GST incl). (Some 15% percent of this is currently recovered through charges.)
The proposed changes would take effect from 1 January 1999.
Given the already high cost of travel to New Zealand from most parts of the world, and that research indicates that exchange rates and personal incomes are the main issues in determining international travel, it is not expected that introducing a modest charge for border clearance would have any significant impact on travellers choice of destination.
Some of the issues relating to the implementation of this policy must first be discussed with airport and port companies and the international travel industry. In order to communicate effectively with key players, officials plan to hold meetings with interested parties in the last week of February in Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin. These meetings will focus on how the Cabinet's decision is to be implemented.
Cabinet has asked that officials report back on how to implement the decision by 20 March 1998.
Media inquiries to:
Mike Alexander, National Advisor, Border Inspection, Ministry of Agriculture (04) 474 4100
Debbie Gee, Manager, Corporate Communications, Ministry of Agriculture (04) 474 4258
Kevin Louglan, Media Liaison Officer, New Zealand Customs Service (04) 474 8317
Ian Smith, Communications Advisor, New Zealand Immigration Service, (04) 915 4236
* Border clearance services:
The focus of MAF Quarantine Service is on biosecurity, which means preventing items which could pose a risk to New Zealand's primary sector or natural environment from entering the country (the fruit fly infestation in Mount Roskill two years ago is an example).
The New Zealand Customs Service's focus is on illegal imports such as drugs, weapons, pornography and items which incur a duty. However, both NZ Customs and MAF Quarantine Service work closely together and co-operate to ensure that none of the above types of good enter the country illegally.
The New Zealand Immigration Service's (NZIS) role at the border is to advise and make determinations, as necessary, on persons eligibility for entry into New Zealand. This includes dealing with matters such as persons with fraudulent documentation, carrying drugs, asylum seekers, non-genuine travellers and persons without the correct entry documentation. New Zealand Customs Service act as agents for NZIS and are responsible for immigration processing carried out at the primary line.