Lack of District Plans Undermining Quality of Local Health and Education Services

 A lack of proper planning at the District level is a critical failure that is undermining the delivery of quality health and education services across Papua New Guinea.

Research by community advocacy organization ACT NOW has revealed that two-years on from the last national election, just one quarter or 25% of Districts have published a five-year development plan for 2023-27. Good planning is essential for the delivery of quality services.

It is shocking to see that despite Districts now receiving K20 million a year in Service Improvement and Infrastructure funding, most do not have a clear roadmap for how they are using the money. This lack of planning is a major reason for deteriorating local services and the suffering endured by the communities.

The lack of proper planning across most Districts also undermines transparency and accountability, with both the general public and key governance institution left in the dark about the management, monitoring, and utilization of District funds. 

In June 2023, ACT NOW launched the DDA Watch website with the intention of improving public access to District information and encouraging greater participation in the monitoring of service delivery.

Only 7 District plans are publicly available and that 75 Districts out of 96 have yet to announce a plan for 2023-27. Also, no District has yet published an annual budget for 2023 or 2024.

While it is commendable that 21 Districts that have launched a plan, it is only appropriate to ensure the plans are available to their constituents. Meanwhile, the Department of Finance must stop sending money to those Districts that have yet to produce a plan.

Compounding the problem with a lack of planning, ACT NOW has found only 40 Districts have filed an acquittal of their spending with the Department of Implementation and Rural Development (DIRD) over the last 12-months. Only 24 of those acquittal reports were for spending in 2023 or 2022, the other 18 were for earlier years.The lack of acquittals raises serious questions about financial accountability at a District level.

It is the responsibility of government to address these concerns head-on to ensure effective service delivery and good governance so it can deliver meaningful development. 

Members of the public must do their part by ensuring they demand better of their MPs and public officials.

ACT NOW is urging everyone to visit the DDA Watch website to find out what documents are available for its District and to use the scoring and comment function to make their voices heard.

Call to Action:

  • Citizen Engagement: We urge citizens to actively engage with their DDAs, demanding transparency, accountability, and adherence to good governance practices.
  • District Planning: All DDAs must publish a 5-year development plan and make that plan available to the public
  • DSIP Accountability: DDAs must promptly release detailed DSIP and DIP acquittal reports to restore public trust.
  • Budget Transparency: All Districts should publish their budgets, ensuring openness and fiscal responsibility.

For further information, visit the DDA Watch website and stay informed.

Together, let us build Districts that serve our communities and thrive through transparency.