Promises, Promises: A Decade of Allocations for and Spending on Anti-Corruption in Papua New Guinea

Development Policy Centre Discussion Paper No. 60
Author name: 
Grant Walton
Husnia Hushang

In Papua New Guinea (PNG), government responses to corruption have received a great deal of media attention over the past decade. This is particularly the case with Investigation Taskforce Sweep (ITFS), with the PNG government initially providing this agency with significant resources and support, only for support to disappear in 2014, when the agency helped coordinate an arrest warrant for Prime Minister, Peter O’Neill. While the trials and tribulations of ITFS have been at the forefront of media attention, they can mask broader trends concerning the state’s anti-corruption efforts. In this paper we compare the PNG government’s allocations for and spending on five key anti-corruption organisations between 2008 and 2017. Analysing a decade of national budget documents we focus on funding for: the Ombudsman Commission, the National Fraud and Anti-corruption Directorate, ITFS, the Financial Intelligence Unit, and the Auditor-General’s Office. We show how allocations for these agencies have often exceeded spending, and that combined anti-corruption funding has declined since 2013. We then compare combined spending on these organisations to the Department of Justice and Attorney General and the Royal Papua New Guinea Constabulary; we show that, over the past decade, funding for the former has grown significantly compared to anti-corruption spending. Finally, we show that as a proportion of the overall PNG budget allocations for and spending on anti-corruption has been on the decline since 2013. These findings suggest that reductions to anti-corruption funding pre-date the dramatic reduction of funding for ITFS after it helped organise an arrest warrant for the prime minister, and that comparatively, over the past five years, anti-corruption agencies have fared worse than other areas of government spending. We discuss what these findings mean for policy makers and activists hoping to see the PNG government strengthen anti-corruption efforts, and address corruption.

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