Papua New Guinea in 2015: at a crossroads and beyond (2023)

That Papua New Guinea formally fails to meet any of the United Nations’Millennium Development Goals in the same year as it records the highest GDP growth rate in the world illustrates the complexity of the national development challenge. The popular assumption that consistent GDP growth is a critical driver in national development has proved to be flawed in the experience of Papua New Guinea.

The complex diversity of Papua New Guinea is not well understood, even within the country. Models and systems that work in one part of the country do not work in other parts. There are significant differences in culture and in management style between individual provincial and district administrations. This makes it difficult to govern, to do business, and to learn from and repeat successes.

Papua New Guinea has to compete in a global marketplace for investment. While its resources base is attractive to foreign investors, businesses will compare opportunities in Papua New Guinea to others elsewhere and will ultimately invest in the most economic and less risky opportunities. Given the relatively high business risk of Papua New Guinea, efforts to reduce business risk will be important to attract a diverse mix of investors going forward. Limits in government capacity as well as that of local businesses to support multiple major projects simultaneously will remain key challenges in the future. The PNG LNG project represents what Papua New Guinea can achieve in partnership with international and domestic investors, but its success was enabled through the investment of financial, technical and human resources on a scale never seen in Papua New Guinea’s history. Lessons from the PNG LNG project and earlier developments, combined with a focus on economic efficiency and value creation, are essential if the country is to realise its potential.

Papua New Guinea has no shortage of visions, plans and strategies. The most prominent of these may be the Papua New Guinea Vision 2050 document, prepared by the National Strategic Plan Taskforce under the government of Sir Michael Somare in 2009. Medium and long-term development strategies are also published by the government. The National Strategy for Responsible Development, initiated by the Department of National Planning and Monitoring, was launched by Prime Minister Peter O’Neill in 2014. It is not clear how the various strategies complement each other or whether Papua New Guinea has the capacity – either human or financial – to implement the strategies.

While both private investors and development partners are cognisant and indeed critical of capacity weaknesses within the Papua New Guinea government they are at the same time asking the government to implement policies and programs for which it is not equipped. As the expectations of Papua New Guinea citizens and external partners are only likely to increase, capacity development will continue to be a priority for the next generation of leaders in Papua New Guinea. A much tighter focus from the Papua New Guinea government and external partners on what can be achieved with existing capacity constraints may be the most appropriate means of managing future challenges.

The Papua New Guinea government’s apparent preference for big government risks crowding out the private sector and creating multiple economic inefficiencies. This preference seems to be guided by the government’s admiration of the success of state-owned enterprises in Asia rather than a true appreciation of the Papua New Guinea economy and its relationship to the global economy. The state-led economic models Papua New Guinea looks to are not necessarily applicable to the country’s circumstances. Much greater support, both in terms of enabling infrastructure, regulations and incentives needs to be in place to encourage the growth of small to medium enterprises. Lessons from other state-led economies such as Venezuela and Egypt should be closely studied as they have more relevance to Papua New Guinea’s circumstances than do large Asian economies.

Papua New Guinea’s resources and ability to attract foreign investment in resources have led to a tendency to focus on large resources projects. These projects generate valuable revenue in the short to medium term for the government and the companies investing in them also deliver improved basic services. But these projects seldom deliver long-term or mass employment opportunities, while revenues are not always reinvested in sectors or activities integral to long-term development. Environmental damage from a number of resources projects remains problematic for many communities despite improvements in legislation. Major infrastructure development such as power supply has been neglected even though the expansion of power supply itself is a means of driving other infrastructure development.

There is a long-term trend for national members of parliament in Papua New Guinea to assert control of resources at national, provincial and district levels. The creation of the new MP-headed District Development Authorities with generous funding is potentially at odds with the Papua New Guinea government’s national development strategies and could threaten the implementation of current national planning and the ability of the public service to make future plans. It also creates more pressure on the capacity of provincial and district administrations, which is already limited.

While the Papua New Guinea Government is focused on the very significant development challenges of education, health and infrastructure, it pays only limited attention to the growing youth bulge in Papua New Guinea society.

Papua New Guinean parents have increasingly placed a high value on educating their children –a significant development in a country where 85 per cent of the population lives in rural areas and is largely disengaged from the formal economy.

The Papua New Guinea government has introduced tuition fee free education for all school students but has not adequately prepared for increased demand. There are insufficient teachers, facilities and resources to support universal primary schooling. The quality of high schooling and tertiary education is thought to be declining. Although Papua New Guinea’s universities have produced high-quality graduates in the past, this situation is being threatened by the lack of teaching resources in universities. Teacher education is not able to meet expanding demand for school and tertiary level teachers.

The drive to educate more children is directed at guiding students towards formal sector employment but this is at odds with the nature of the Papua New Guinea economy. The government’s support of large resources projects at the expense of the small to medium enterprise sector has not helped to create the formal sector jobs young people are demanding.

The vast majority of school leavers will have little choice but to rely on the informal sector for survival. While efforts to encourage entrepreneurship in the younger generation are underway, it is not realistic to expect that this will absorb the high demand for jobs or indeed come close to addressing youth unemployment.

There is a risk that a generation of Papua New Guineans will be effectively lost. The drive to build a modern economy and the education system that supports this may end up failing a generation, with far-reaching consequences for the next generation of leaders.

There are some simple measures a future generation of leaders can take to mitigate this risk. Vocational training can take more advantage of existing infrastructure and utilise the expertise of business in Papua New Guinea to provide mentoring to students. Ensuring that schools are staffed with good administrators as well as good teachers can help address serious funding shortages in the school system. Talented emerging leaders in Papua New Guinea are frequently drawn into politics but should be encouraged to make their careers in business or in public administration, where they can make important contributions to creating better conditions for driving employment.

The Papua New Guinea government’s urban planning processes are struggling to keep up with the consequences of high population growth. Urban expansion is a big issue in the large urban centres of Port Moresby and Lae. Informal settlements have expanded rapidly, have inadequate water supply and waste management services, and pose risks to the natural environment.

The scale of the problem of violence against women in Papua New Guinea is now well recognised by government and society. A number of initiatives to address the problem are underway. A new Case Management Centre in Lae to assist victims of family and sexual violence is proving successful so far and attracting interest from elsewhere.

Papua New Guinea is facing a major challenge to its sovereignty in the near future, with the planned referendum on Bougainville’s independence due to be held by 2020. It seems likely that the referendum will deliver a majority vote in support of independence. The Papua New Guinea Government maintains the right to decide how to deal with that vote. Even if the vote is favourable there is a significant gap between will and capacity. Building Bougainville’s capacity to manage independence could be a 10 to 15 year enterprise. At this stage, the referendum is being regarded as a technical issue, and discussion on the issues of substance or the consequences of the vote is lacking.

The political economy of Bougainville is changing dramatically. There is much at stake for those who control government, particularly given the potential of returns from Bougainville’s significant natural resources. Bougainville needs a legitimate government capable of managing Bougainville affairs but it is not yet clear that such a government will be in place after the referendum.


What is the biggest problem in PNG? ›

According to the PNG National Research Institute, corruption in the public sector is believed to be one of the main constraints for doing business in PNG, particularly for small enterprises.

What are the main problems in Papua New Guinea? ›

Lack of accountability for police violence persisted in PNG, and weak enforcement of laws criminalizing corruption and violence against women and children continue to foster a culture of impunity and lawlessness.

What are some challenges in living in PNG? ›

Poor law and order. Law and order challenges in Papua New Guinea are intractable. Levels of crime and violence are high and are a major obstacle to economic development. Robbery, assault, and domestic violence are the most commonly reported crimes.

What is law and order problem in PNG? ›

Concerns centre around criminal violence and the limited effectiveness of state controls. High levels of interpersonal violence are apparent in the activities of criminal gangs (rascals), the tribal fighting occurring in parts of the Highlands, as well as in everyday gender relations throughout the country.

Why is PNG so poor? ›

So, why is Papua New Guinea poor? In short, because of income inequality, aggravated by years of poor planning and corruption by the government. To correct this problem, new measures will need to be taken to outline and enforce government oversight and the proper use of government funds.

Is PNG a high risk country? ›

The law and order situation in Papua New Guinea continues to pose serious risks to travellers. Violent crime, including armed robbery, carjacking, home invasions and sexual assault, is common throughout the country, especially in urban areas such as Port Moresby, Lae, Madang and Mt Hagen.

How did Papua New Guinea adopt English language? ›

In 1914, Australia took control of the German colony in northeastern New Guinea. With Papua and New Guinea under its reign, Australia established English as the official language of instruction and laid the foundation for modern education in Papua New Guinea.

Should early childhood in PNG learn in English? ›

Equipping children with English skills at a young age will enhance their academic performance in post-elementary education and, thus, enable them to contribute meaningfully to the socio-economic development of Papua New Guinea.

What is the most common type of domestic violence in PNG? ›

Several initiatives have been provided to address Gender-Based violence (GBV), however, GBV remains a long-standing issue in Papua New Guinea (PNG). Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) has been one of the most common types of GBV, which has adverse effects on partners and their children.

What is the main factor that leads to business failure in PNG? ›

The most important are: Political uncertainty: even though the previous government (2002–2007) completed its full 5-year term and the current coalition government retains many members who were in the previous administration, businesses still fear possible political instability.

What is gender inequality in PNG? ›

Gender equality is a significant challenge in PNG, and systemic violations of women's rights exist throughout the country. In 2014, Papua New Guinea ranked 140 out of 155 countries of the Gender Inequality Index. Women and girls have substantially less access to health care and education services than males.

How many people live below the poverty line in Papua New Guinea? ›

Using the national measure (see "Poverty Data and Methodology" section below for details), 39.9 percent of the population lived below the basic needs poverty line. Using the international poverty line of $1.90 (2011 PPP USD per person per day), the poverty rate was estimated at 38.0 percent.

What is illegal in Papua New Guinea? ›

As a general rule, you're prohibited from entering Papua New Guinea with fruit, vegetables and animal products due to local quarantine controls. Marijuana and other narcotics are illegal in Papua New Guinea; offences can carry substantial prison sentences.

What are the 4 main types of law? ›

Types and Classifications of Law
  • Eternal Law.
  • Divine Law.
  • Natural Law.
  • Human or Positive Law.
11 Mar 2016

When did PNG adopt the common law? ›

English common law (defined to include equity) in force immediately before 16 September 1975 (Independence Day and the day the Constitution entered into force), 'notwithstanding their modification through an amendment, repeal or alteration by a statute of England unless the modifying statute has been adopted in Papua ...

What are the main causes of poverty in Papua New Guinea? ›

But when asked what causes poverty in PNG, the people consulted identified the most important factors as follows: • lack of jobs and other opportunities to earn cash, • too little or no land to cultivate food crops, • no access to education, • lack of access to services and poor living conditions, and • breakdown of ...

What natural disasters occur in Papua New Guinea? ›

Papua New Guinea is vulnerable to several hazards, including floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, and sea-level rise.

What is unique about Papua New Guinea? ›

Papua New Guinea has 5 percent of the world's biodiversity, even though it only covers 1 percent of Earth's total land area. It has more than 20,000 plant species, 800 species of coral, 600 species of fish, and 750 species of birds.

Is the UK bigger than Papua New Guinea? ›

Papua New Guinea is about 1.9 times bigger than United Kingdom. United Kingdom is approximately 243,610 sq km, while Papua New Guinea is approximately 462,840 sq km, making Papua New Guinea 90% larger than United Kingdom.

Why is Port Moresby unlivable? ›

A 2004 article in The Economist ranked Port Moresby the world's least livable capital cities due to high unemployment and the consequent high levels of violent crime. At that time, unemployment rates were estimated to be between 60 and 90 percent.

Is it safe to live in PNG? ›

Serious crime is high in the capital, Port Moresby, and in the cities of Lae and Mt Hagen. Settlement or squatter areas of towns and cities are particularly dangerous. 'Bush knives' (machetes) and firearms are often used in assaults and thefts.

How do you say hello in Papua New Guinea? ›

The general customary greeting is to shake hands and to ask “yuorait” – “How are you?” People commonly clasp hands with one another to greet or grasp each other around the hips. A nod of acknowledgement may also suffice.

What country has over 800 languages? ›

Papua New Guinea has about eight million people, but more than 800 languages. The oldest ones, in the Papuan group, date back tens of thousands of years. So why are there so many languages in this mountainous island country?

Do Papua New Guineans prefer to speak English? ›

English is an official language and is the language of government and the education system. However, it is not widely spoken. The primary lingua francaa common language used by people of diverse backgrounds to communicate with one another of the country is Tok Pisin (commonly known in English as New Guinea Pidgin).

What problem do PNG face in learning the English language? ›

Command of English is declining dramatically at every educational institution in Papua New Guinea. English is no longer esteemed as a universal language and its significance is no longer emphasised in schools. Teachers even turn a blind eye to the value of reading.

Do people speak English in PNG schools? ›

Formal education remains in English, although schools are allowed to use the vernacular in order to aid in understanding. No teacher training or materials are provided in the vernacular, however.

How do you speak lernen English? ›

Here are our top tips on how to learn English quickly:
  1. Read everything you can get your hands on. ...
  2. Actively take note of new vocabulary. ...
  3. Talk with real live humans. ...
  4. Subscribe to podcasts or Youtube channels (in English) ...
  5. Go abroad. ...
  6. Use your friends. ...
  7. Ask a lot of questions. ...
  8. Take a lead from the stars.

What are the causes of corruption in PNG? ›

Political corruption in Papua New Guinea is largely enforced by political nepotism and the patronage system of governance. Elected leaders are inclined to seize and distribute resources amongst their electorates in order to secure and maintain popular support.

What is the crime rate in Papua New Guinea? ›

Papua New Guinea has a crime index of 80.79. In Papua New Guinea, crime, especially violent crime, is primarily fueled by rapid social, economic, and political changes. Raskol gangs engage in small and large-scale criminal activity and consist mainly of members with little education and few employment opportunities.

What are the three basic rights in PNG? ›

Fundamental Rights affect our very existence and quality of life. They include the Right to Life, Freedom from Inhumane Treatment and the Right to Protection of the Law. Every person who lives in PNG, for a long or short period of time, or is just passing through has these rights.

What are the four main reasons for small business failure in PNG? ›

PNG Daily
  • Lack of adequate capital;
  • Lack of skills and business acumen;
  • Poor location of business;
  • Access to finance and loans:
  • Theft;
  • Wantok System;
  • High cost of doing business;
  • Pricing.

Why do SMMEs fail? ›

The findings show that SMMEs owned by previously disadvantaged individuals are dealing with issues such as lack of finance, insufficient government support and lack of information on services available to them from government and NGOs, which if left unattended, can cause their businesses to fail.

What are the Top 5 reasons businesses fail? ›

Five Common Causes of Business Failure
  • Poor cash flow management. ...
  • Losing control of the finances. ...
  • Bad planning and a lack of strategy. ...
  • Weak leadership. ...
  • Overdependence on a few big customers.

When did PNG join the United Nations? ›

Papua New Guinea became self-governing on 1 December 1973 and achieved independence on 16 September 1975. The country joined the United Nations (UN) on 10 October 1975 by way of Security Council Resolution 375 and General Assembly resolution 3368.

What is gesi policy? ›

The National Public Service GESI policy is designed to develop and maintain a positive, respectful. work culture that ensures equity and diversity for all employees and is free from discrimination. In. particular it: • Outlines the legislative provisions supporting a respectful, equitable and inclusive workplace.

Who became the first lady politician in Papua New Guinea? ›

Dame Carol Anne Kidu (née Millwater; born 10 October 1948), also known as Carol, Lady Kidu, DBE, is an Australian-born Papua New Guinean politician.

What kind of country is Papua New Guinea? ›

Papua New Guinea is an island country that lies in the south-western Pacific. It includes the eastern half of New Guinea and many small offshore islands.

Is PNG a low income country? ›

Development Context

PNG, a lower-middle-income country ranked 155 out of 187 countries in the 2019 Human Development Index, is the only Pacific country in the low human development band of the Index.

What is the standard of living in Papua New Guinea? ›

Living Income 2020:

The Anker Living Income Reference Value for 2020 for rural Papua New Guinea is PGK 1,593 per month (US $460). This is the estimated monthly cost of a basic but decent standard of living for a typical family in rural Papua New Guinea in 2020.

What is the biggest problem in PNG? ›

According to the PNG National Research Institute, corruption in the public sector is believed to be one of the main constraints for doing business in PNG, particularly for small enterprises.

Why is there so much violence in Papua New Guinea? ›

Crime throughout the country, particularly violence-related, has been influenced mainly by rapid social, political and economic changes. An increased rate of unemployment has resulted in poverty in rural areas, while a sequential shift towards urban areas has created cultural friction.

What is law and order problem in PNG? ›

Concerns centre around criminal violence and the limited effectiveness of state controls. High levels of interpersonal violence are apparent in the activities of criminal gangs (rascals), the tribal fighting occurring in parts of the Highlands, as well as in everyday gender relations throughout the country.

What are 5 important laws? ›

Here's the list:
  • Civil Rights Act (1964). ...
  • Voting Rights Act (1965). ...
  • Medicare and Medicaid acts (1965). ...
  • Federal-Aid Highway Act (1956). ...
  • Economic Recovery Tax Act (1981). ...
  • National Defense Education Act (1958). ...
  • Tonkin Gulf Resolution (1964). ...
  • Amendments to Immigration and Nationality Act (1965).
2 May 2005

What is the eternal law? ›

Eternal law was God's perfect plan, not fully knowable to humans. It determined the way things such as animals and planets behaved and how people should behave. Divine law, primarily from the Bible, guided individuals beyond the world to "eternal happiness" in what St. Augustine had called the "City of God."

What are the 3 types of laws? ›

  • Criminal Law.
  • Civil Law.
  • Administrative Law.

What is the main reason why dual system of law came into existence? ›

By having a dual system of law, the authors of the Constitution hoped that the role of custom within the legal system of the country would gradually increase.

What is the rule of law in PNG? ›

The rule of law means that government must be carried out by pre-determined rules of engagement and should not be made up as we go along.

What influenced the legal system? ›

The laws from both the federal and state legal systems stem from three pri- mary sources: the Constitution, statutes, and common law. Although constitutional laws are relatively small in number, they are important because they protect rights that we as a society have found to be of fundamental importance.

How corrupt is Papua New Guinea? ›

A low score earns a high ranking, and signals a perception of a corrupt public sector. In the 2021 Index, Papua New Guinea scored 31 out of 100 possible and ranked 124 out of 180 countries; for comparison, the best score was 88 (ranked 1), and the worst score was 11 (ranked 180).

What is the current economic status of PNG? ›

Latest World Bank Report says PNG's economy returning to modest economic growth after a heavy downturn in 2020. PORT MORESBY, March 4, 2022 – A new World Bank report says Papua New Guinea's economy is projected to grow by four percent in 2022, driven largely by growth in the extractives sector.

Does PNG have a foreign policy? ›

Papua New Guinea's foreign policy reflects close ties with Australia and other traditional allies and cooperative relations with neighboring countries. Its views on international political and economic issues are generally moderate.

What are the main industries in Papua New Guinea? ›

The major economic sectors in Papua New Guinea are: Agriculture and Livestock, Forestry, Mining and Petroleum, Tourism and Hospitality, Fisheries and Marine resources, Manufacturing, Retailing and Wholesaling, Building and Construction, Transport and Telecommunications, and Finance and Business Trade.

Which country has highest corruption rate? ›

Denmark, New Zealand, Finland, Singapore, and Sweden are perceived as the least corrupt nations in the world, ranking consistently high among international financial transparency, while the most apparently corrupt are Syria, Somalia (both scoring 13), and South Sudan (11).

What are the 4 types of corruption? ›

The most common types or categories of corruption are supply versus demand corruption, grand versus petty corruption, conventional versus unconventional corruption and public versus private corruption.

What is good about Papua New Guinea? ›

The tropical birds, the vibrant colors, the composite cultures and the tribal traditions will make you fall in love with this place. This country of biological diversity and immense culture is known for its beaches, scuba diving and coral reefs.

What natural disasters occur in Papua New Guinea? ›

Papua New Guinea is vulnerable to several hazards, including floods, droughts, earthquakes, volcanic activity, tsunamis, and sea-level rise.

How has Papua New Guinea affected Globalisation? ›

In PNG, globalisation-fuelled international investment ushered in the huge Bougainville copper mine in the 1960s and thereafter a series of large – such as Ok Tedi, Porgera and Lihir cooper and gold mines – and medium-scale mining developments, such as Misima, Tolukuma and Hidden Valley.

What causes inflation in PNG? ›

Nevertheless, inflation in PNG is largely driven by external factors (Aba & Vellodi, 2013), given the country's reliance on imports for most of the consumer and producer goods.

Why does Australia have a strong relationship with Papua New Guinea? ›

Today, Australia and Papua New Guinea enjoy a strong bilateral relationship where economic growth, cultural understanding and political diplomacy is encouraged and supported. Papua New Guinea is a developing nation with 85% of its population living and working in farming and agriculture.

What do you call someone from Papua New Guinea? ›

The indigenous peoples of West Papua in Indonesia and Papua New Guinea, commonly called Papuans, are Melanesians.

Was Papua New Guinea attached to Australia? ›

New Guinea was connected by land to Australia until about 10,000 years ago, meaning the first people could walk down through what is now Cape York to the rest of the continent.

How much debt does PNG have? ›

In 2020, the national debt of Papua New Guinea amounted to around 11.31 billion U.S. dollars.

What does PNG export to Japan? ›

The main products that Papua New Guinea exported to Japan were Petroleum Gas ($1.26B), Copper Ore ($475M), and Refined Petroleum ($114M). During the last 25 years the exports of Papua New Guinea to Japan have increased at an annualized rate of 4.37%, from $650M in 1995 to $1.89B in 2020.

Is PNG poor in economy? ›

The economy of Papua New Guinea (PNG) is largely underdeveloped with the vast majority of the population living below the poverty line.
Economy of Papua New Guinea.
GDP rank109th (nominal, 2019) 124th (PPP, 2019)
GDP growth−0.8% (2018) 6.0% (2019e) −1.3% (2020f) 3.4% (2021f)
38 more rows

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