The best way for Papua New Guinea to increase economic growth and boost the size of the economy is for the government to implement a comprehensive plan to tackle corruption.
This is the message from community advocacy group ACT NOW! which has published an analysis of the economic costs of corruption and the measures needed to defeat it.
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“International research shows corruption is costing Papua New Guinea billions of Kina every year”, says Campaign Manager Eddie Tanago. “It is ruining our economy and impoverishing the nation.”
ACT NOW! says if the government is serious about making PNG ‘the richest black nation on earth’ then it must introduce a raft of reforms to ensure we have an open and transparent government.
“We welcome the government’s commitment to establish an Independent Commission Against Corruption”, says Eddie Tango. “but corruption is so entrenched a single institution cannot bring it under control”.
ACT NOW! says what is needed is a set of reforms that empower the entire nation to be actively involved in ensuring good governance.
“Ordinary citizens, the business community, churches and the institutions of government, all need to be given the tools to play an active oversight role”.
Papua New Guinea is the most corrupt country in our region and one of the most corrupt countries in the world according the annual Corruption Perception Index (CPI) published by Transparency International.
In 2018, PNG’s score was just 28. In contrast, New Zealand had the second best score in the world, 87, Singapore was ranked equal third with 85, Australia scored 77, Malaysia 47, Solomon Islands 44, Indonesia 38 and Philippines 36.
International accountancy firm Pricewaterhouse Cooper (PwC) has used global economic data to estimate the benefit of a one point improvement in CPI scores.
“The PwC analysis shows that just a one point improvement in PNG’s corruption score could boost the economy by K10 billion” says Eddie Tanago. “That is equivalent to a 14% increase in our Gross Domestic Product or K1,200 for every man women and child in the country”.
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“If PNG could improve its corruption score by 8 points to match the next worse country in our region which is the Philippines with a CPI of 36, our economy could more than double in size to $45 billion”.
ACT NOW! says corruption puts all sorts of extra costs on to business and makes the economy very inefficient. Corruption suppresses competition, increases prices, makes workers unproductive and leads to very poor infrastructure and services.
The easiest way for the government to grow the economy and improve people’s livelihoods is therefore to tackle corruption head-on by ensuring its decision making is open and accountable.
ACT NOW! has used extensive research, benchmarked international best practice and consulted widely to identify 19 measures that it says the government should adopt. It says that if the measures it is outlining are implemented, PNG could even challenge New Zealand as one of the most open and fairest societies in the world.
“If our CPI matched that of New Zealand, our economy could also match theirs and be worth upwards of $200 billion a year” says Eddie Tanago.