Background to the project

The decentralisation of government services with a view to enabling greater participation of people at decision making especially in resource allocation at sub-national government levels as well as at national level, has been an ongoing challenge since independence.

Despite improved service delivery being one of the objectives of the 1995 Organic Law when the previous decentralized Provincial and Local Level Government Act of 1976 was replaced, the 2015 Final Report of the Constitutional Law Reform Commission (CLRC) and the Department of Provincial and Local Level Government Affairs (DPLGA) states that, basic services delivery systems and capacity continue to deteriorate.

The deterioration in access to basic service is contrary to the second National Goal and Directive Principle in the National Constitution which calls

“for all citizens to have an equal opportunity to participate in, and benefit from, the development of our country” (PNG National Constitution, s.2);
including,
the creation of political structures that will enable effective, meaningful participation by our people in that life, and in view of the rich cultural and ethnic diversity of our people for those structures to provide for substantial decentralization of all forms of government activity” (ibid; s.2(2)).

There is therefore an urgent need now for engagement in discussions informed by appropriate research to debate issues and consider possible policy options for effective forms of decentralized government at the sub-national level.

The PNG NRI has therefore established the Autonomy and Decentralisation Research Project (ADRP) to facilitate a National Conversation on the areas of Autonomy and Decentralisation.

Main objectives

There are two main objectives of the Autonomy and Decentralisation Research Project:

  1. Facilitate informed national conversation with dialogue and information sharing between: Academics, Policy practitioners, Political leaders, and Civil society on issues and challenges to autonomy and decentralization governance arrangements in PNG with a view to improving access to basic services for the whole community as envisioned in the PNG constitution.
  2. This process will enable the key decision policy makers to have increased knowledge on options for Autonomy and Decentralisation in PNG enabling them to consider specific legal and technical arrangements originating from a National Forum.

Four key activities of Autonomy and Decentralisation Research Project

  1. Conduct relevant research and analysis on issues of Autonomy Governance and Decentralisation.
  2. Debate and disseminate the research products to the public and targeted audiences using several tools.
  3. Conduct fortnightly seminars at the PNG NRI on current issues starting on July 28 and for the next 5 fortnights.
  4. Hold a 3-day National Conference on Autonomy and Decentralisation in September.
  5. Release a report to the public that includes the papers presented at the national Conference.

Frameworks for discussion on autonomy governance issues

  1. Representation and Institutions. Appropriate Institutional designs that can enable effective participation by the people in decision making at the national level and at the sub-national levels.
  2. Division of Legislative and Executive Powers and Responsibilities. Division of powers and functions between the national government and sub-national governments.
  3. Entrenchment and Inter-governmental Relations. Constitutional Laws to entrench agreed sub-national governance arrangements and the establishment of institutions and processes to manage relations between the central state and the sub-national governments.
  4. Financial Regulations and Regional Economics. Regulations for Financial Transfers from the Central Government to sub-national governments, arrangements for taxation and sharing of revenues, and agreements for development of regional economic activities.
  5. Implementation of Autonomy Government: Ensure implementation through enabling legislations and timetables. Establish Institutions to oversee the formalisation of the proposed institutional reforms.

Outcome

  • Key decision policy makers to have increased knowledge on options for Autonomy and Decentralisation in PNG enabling them to consider specific legal and technical arrangements.
  • A Conference Report with recommendations for considerations by relevant authorities.