Papua New Guinea: courses of the decade in 4 charts






The focal point on construction help to Pacific Islands international locations – spurred on by means of obtrusive pageant between China and Australia, New Zealand and more and more the USA – may depart the affect of a area reliant on overseas support.

For Papua New Guinea, alternatively, extra construction help, whilst welcome, is most effective a part of the tale. The primary emphasis is home expansion within the area’s biggest economic system. High Minister James Marape has mentioned not too long ago he expects nominal Gross Home Product (GDP) to extend from its present K101 billion to K200 billion in 2030 as new useful resource initiatives come on-line.

However a emerging GDP isn’t the tide that lifts all boats, as Marape turns out to assume.

Those 4 charts are illustrative of the problem.

PNG’s nominal GDP doubled between 2011 and 2020, however this didn’t enhance dwelling requirements. Despite the fact that GDP is most often used to measure financial efficiency, PNG’s massive, principally foreign-owned useful resource sector employs few nationals. This makes GDP a deceptive indicator of reasonable dwelling requirements. Gross nationwide source of revenue (GNI) could be a greater indicator, however a correct measure of GNI isn’t to be had, leaving non-resource GDP as the most efficient to be had measure.

In spite of development in some, in 2020, PNG ranked within the backside thirtieth percentile of 5 of the six signs.

Additional, nominal GDP does now not account for worth adjustments. Actual (adjusted for inflation) non-resource GDP on a in step with individual or in step with capita foundation stagnated prior to now decade. Despite the fact that non-resource GDP in step with capita grew on reasonable yearly by means of 1.3 in step with cent, the common Papua New Guinean used to be worse off in 2020 than she used to be in 2013.




A failure to translate positive factors from the useful resource sector into construction is an issue for PNG. Given the enclave nature of PNG’s useful resource sector, its major connection to construction is thru executive income.

So, what concerning the hope for brand new useful resource initiatives?

The second one chart displays the useful resource sector as a proportion of GDP, and executive useful resource revenues as a proportion of GDP. The useful resource proportion fell from 2011 to 2013 with declining world commodity costs, but rose between 2014 and 2019 when the PNG liquified herbal gasoline (LNG) challenge started manufacturing, most effective to fall in 2020 with the closure of the Porgera gold mine. Govt’s useful resource source of revenue fell in the similar length. Via 2020, the useful resource sector accounted for only 1 / 4 of GDP, but it contributed just one in step with cent of GDP to executive.



Useful resource income has remained subdued since 2014 as LNG revenues had been saved offshore for compensation of the challenge’s loans. That is anticipated to switch in 2025, when the PNG LNG loans are repaid, and sped up depreciation bills fall.

Process numbers inform a identical tale. Formal sector employment additionally fell within the earlier decade. The Financial institution of PNG (BPNG) tracks non-public sector employment quarterly, which the chart under displays with a linear pattern, environment March 2012 at 100. Employment peaked in June 2013 with the tip of the PNG LNG building section, alternatively, has fallen since. Via the tip of 2020, employment used to be 9 in step with cent not up to its 2012 stage. In the similar length, the inhabitants grew by means of an estimated 32 in step with cent.



Then there are measures of governance, which for probably the most phase remained deficient within the earlier decade. The overall chart displays world scores of six signs supplied by means of the Global Financial institution to evaluate governance. Of the six, PNG progressed on 3: political steadiness and no violence, rule of legislation, and regulate of corruption. In spite of development in some, in 2020, PNG ranked within the backside thirtieth percentile of 5 of the six signs.

The stand-out this is the regulate of corruption indicator, which progressed dramatically in 2020. This most probably displays the Marape management in 2020 passing the Whistleblower Act in February, and in November passing law to determine an Impartial Fee Towards Corruption (ICAC).



Put in combination, the information in those charts point out that main coverage adjustments are wanted if PNG is to enhance its potentialities.

One is its trade price. A crawling pegged trade price used to be followed in 2014 bringing up considerations round imported inflation. This coverage resulted in a fall in overseas reserves. In flip, foreign currency echange (foreign exchange) has needed to be rationed by means of the BPNG.

As instructional Martin Davies issues out, foreign exchange rationing has been exhausting on PNG companies who import specialised equipment and different inputs, families who import sturdy and non-durable items made out of the country, and executive which spends as much as 70 in step with cent of its funds out of the country. Since 2014, PNG’s 100 CEO Survey indexed foreign exchange shortages amongst its most sensible 5 industry constraints, topping the checklist in 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020.

Permitting extra flexibility within the nominal trade price will permit the true trade price to regulate to its true stage, proper the imbalance within the provide and insist for foreign exchange, enhance industry potentialities, and supply a stimulus for formal sector employment.

Expanding executive income from the useful resource sector can even assist finance construction. The LNG initiatives at the horizon come with the Papua LNG (2028) and P’nyang initiatives (2032). Despite the fact that negotiations have concluded, it’s important that executive goal to obtain income streams of the brand new useful resource initiatives previous, in comparison to the PNG LNG association. This may well be accomplished thru decreasing the concessions recently loved and extending the usage of royalties.

Progressing governance reforms could also be a concern. This present executive has proven an urge for food for reform, with the Global Financial Fund not too long ago commending the PNG executive for its ample efficiency in attaining fiscal reforms. Different ongoing reforms will have to be observed thru, together with finishing section two of the BPNG overview, the State-Owned Entities reform program supported by means of the Asian Construction Financial institution, and getting the ICAC operational.

And measures of luck will have to be identifiable. Via the tip of this decade, a wealthier and extra advanced PNG will imply the errors of the former decade don’t seem to be repeated.


Maholopa (Maho) Laveil is the inaugural FDC Pacific Fellow on the Lowy Institute.

Major symbol by means of Flickr consumer Eric Chan

This newsletter first seemed in The Interpreter, printed by means of the Lowy Institute.  

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