Papua New Guinea’s fiscal decentralisation: A method ahead


Monetary features turned extra centralised with the introduction of the Natural Regulation on Provincial Governments and Native Degree Governments (OLPLLG) in 1995, which repealed the OLPG of 1977. The brand new legislation launched a 3rd tier of presidency — Native Degree Governments (LLGs) — and was later amended so as to add one other tier in 2013 referred to as District Improvement Authorities (DDAs). Though the provinces retained entry to grants from nationwide authorities, assortment of huge income sources resembling gross sales taxes was subsumed by nationwide authorities and customarily noticed PNG’s sub-national fiscal association transfer in the direction of a hybrid between a regional and federal association.

Heavy dependence on nationwide authorities meant that nationwide grants expanded to incorporate provincial and native stage administration, provincial infrastructure improvement, native stage authorities and village companies, city and concrete companies, provincial and local-level staffing, and a grant equal to exports sourced from the province (5 per cent of the province’s export worth). The native stage authorities and village grant, and the city and concrete companies grant, have been allotted based mostly on inhabitants. A serious drawback was that sub-national grants have been variable and disbursed too slowly, impeding service supply. By 2006, the Nationwide Analysis Institute noticed that the majority provinces and native stage authorities administrations have been insufficient in “scale, finance, or perform”, arguing that the features devolved to those ranges have been too fragmented for companies to be delivered appropriately.

Revenues expanded with the introduction of Worth Added Tax in 1998, however income inequities endured among the many provinces. Worth Added Tax was later rebranded the Items and Companies Tax (GST) in 2003. GST added one other vital income stream for provincial governments. The funds are collected by the nationwide authorities and distributed in accordance with the place they have been generated, not the place wanted. Thus, the majority of GST stays with Nationwide Capital District and Morobe, the 2 provinces with essentially the most financial exercise, leaving provincial inequities unsolved. Moreover, unstable nationwide authorities revenues on this interval meant provincial wants went unmet as revenues didn’t match the devolved service prices.

As of 2023, PNG’s sub-national governments have expanded to comprise 22 provincial governments, 96 district authorities, and 333 native stage governments. Sadly, extra didn’t show to be higher.

One enchancment to governance got here by way of the Intergovernmental Relations (Capabilities and Funding) Act launched in 2009, which unified all transfers to the provinces beneath a single switch termed the Perform Grant. The brand new Act established the Nationwide Financial and Fiscal Fee (NEFC), whose duty was to help sub-national governments formulate budgets and assess efficiency. Nonetheless, governance typically deteriorated and by 2014, it was famous that although fiscal methods have been passable, administration, accounting, and reporting on the provincial stage have been “very weak”. 

Provincial governments failed to supply oversight of district planning. Poor accountability was not shocking, given provinces suffered an absence of administrative capability, poor dedication by authorities officers, political appointments and interference in administration, extreme spending on workers remuneration, and excessive numbers of workers working in non permanent positions. With this part of decentralisation, the variety of sub-national governments elevated with out addressing systemic weaknesses resembling administrative capability, monetary reporting, and auditing.

In 2014, parliament amended the 1995 legislation to additional empower native authorities. It eliminated the Joint District Planning and Finances Priorities Committee, with an accompanying Act to create District Improvement Authorities with better decision-making energy. These authorities have successfully added a fourth tier of presidency. However governance and repair supply safeguards for district authorities are poor. Districts don’t possess revenue-raising powers and rely solely on MP slush funds for spending. The Division of Implementation and Rural Improvement, tasked with monitoring MP slush fund initiatives, has solely been in a position to go to 16 of the then 89 districts, with its most up-to-date mission web site go to carried out in 2016. A research in 2014 surveying eight provinces discovered that spending beneath MP slush funds reached solely 20 per cent of faculties and 12 per cent of well being clinics. Additional, many initiatives initiated beneath the slush funds have been discovered incomplete or of poor high quality. As soon as once more, decentralisation had did not ship.

As of 2023, PNG’s sub-national governments have expanded to comprise 22 provincial governments, 96 district authorities, and 333 native stage governments. Sadly, extra didn’t show to be higher. Of the 4 areas, the Islands fared higher in governance and repair supply, seemingly attributable to their smaller measurement and comparatively stronger administrative capability.


Regardless of efforts to enhance the standard of fiscal decentralisation, PNG’s sub-national governments stay largely depending on transfers from nationwide authorities, administrative weaknesses persist, and new challenges are rising. Most provinces aren’t in a position to elevate funds and handle their affairs successfully. A extra centralised mannequin appears essentially the most environment friendly resolution given institutional, capability, and useful resource constraints at decrease ranges of presidency.

PNG stays largely centralised with respect to its monetary and administrative governance preparations in comparison with Organisation for Financial Improvement and Co-operation (OECD) excessive and higher middle-income international locations. As proven by Determine 4, PNG’s sub-national governments stay closely depending on transfers from nationwide authorities. For a poor nation, this stage of centralisation is probably going higher suited to PNG’s stage of improvement.

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