In-depth

Training of the District Treasury Staff  in use of computers for accounting
Training of the District Treasury Staff in use of computers for accounting

Despite the country’s uninterrupted democratic Government since its independence in 1975, PNG’s governance institutions and processes remain insufficient to be fully responsive to the needs of ordinary citizens and to promote equitable development. This is of particular concern at the sub-national level, where capacity development since the 1995 Organic Law on Provincial and Local Level Governments, devolving substantial political, administrative and accountability powers to local level governments, has been weak for many years.

Corruption is widely acknowledged as pervasive across all sectors of and as one of the biggest impediments to equitable development and the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals.With no freedom of information law in place, access to information is very variable in practice.

Moreover, low levels of accountability and transparency further undermine good governance. This is reflected in insufficient capacities to administer and account for public funds, weak parliamentary and political party systems, as well as insufficient awareness by the general public about roles, responsibilities, and functioning of these institutions to hold them accountable in an effective manner.

In addition, the public sector experiences issues efficiencies and effectiveness, making it less responsive to its citizens. The reasons for under-performance include: inadequate technical and managerial capacity, lack of motivation due to the terms and conditions of employment of public servants, shortage of qualified personnel, lack of clarity of roles and responsibilities, insufficient performance accountability, as well as ineffective coordination, communication and information flows.

While freedom of movement and speech are constitutionally guaranteed, and media are free and strong, civil society faces difficulties to flourishand mobilise into a driving development force. Factors, such as 37 percent of the adult population illiterate, 85 percent of the population based in rural traditional societies with limited access to modern communication systems, a fragmented society with over 800 languages and geographical and topographical barriers, make it difficult to develop social capital and mobilise society to drive development through social accountability.

However, over the recent months, there are many positive trends towards good governance. Increasing domestic revenue from extractive industries is increasingly channeled to the provincial, district and local level governance, devolving political and financial roles and responsibilities for local level service delivery.Since the 2012 National Elections, the Government of PNG takes a much stronger stance on the fight against corruption, illustrated through the establishment of the National Anti-Corruption Strategy Task Force (NACSTF) that implements the National Anti-Corruption Strategy (NACS) 2010-2013, developed after PNG ratified the UN Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) in May 2007. Other positive developments include a growing legislative framework, increasing public demand for good governance, and improvedintegrated budgeting as well as public financial management.

Democratic Governance lies at the heart of UNDP’s mandate. As such, the organization has a strong comparative advantage in this area. In addition to its wealth of global best practices and technical expertise, UNDP’s impartiality allows it to approach these often sensitive and political issues, and to broker collaboration between various actors, including Government, the private sector, civil society and development partners.