District Plans and Budgets still Missing

The initiative by the Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD) in setting up the Bilum Digital Platform is commendable. A step in the right direction in promotion greater transparency and accountability in our public expenditure. Development partners especially AUSAid should be thanked as well for funding the Initiative.

The issue of corruption is huge in PNG especially when dealing with government funds and deprive the rights of citizens to have access to basic health and education services, particularly the majority of our rural population.

In 2014, the government established District Development Authorities (DDA) with the intention to improve service delivery to the people. Since then the service and infrastructure grants available to each DDA have grown to K20 million. However, to- date, how these monies are spent and where they are spent is not known. Financial and narrative reporting is really problematic.This is a concern also repeatedly shared by DIRD and the Auditor Generals Office. The government this year has announced a further K10 million increase which means all districts will get K20 million in funding.

The DDA Act 2014 requires that districts have 5 year development plans and these plans should be accompanied by a realistic budget. These guide them in providing effective service delivery and spending within budget.

There are a total of 96 districts in PNG that receive DSIP funds from the government. As of October 2023, only 13 out of 96 have a 5 year development plan. This is simply not good enough.

It is also very important for DDA plans and budgets be made publicly available so local people are able to provide their own oversight and social accountability.

ACT NOW! has designed and built a website called DDA Watch with the aim of making public documents relating to the districts. These include the five year district development plans, audit reports, inspection reports and acquittals. Also contacts for the DDAs and the DDA CEO. For more information visit www.ddawatch.org 

Year 1 students from PNG and International Studies at Divine Word University promoting the DDA Watch website in Madang Province. Photo Suppied

This article was originally published by Post Courier on the 5th October 2023- https://www.postcourier.com.pg/yu-tok-300-12/