Papua New Guinea’s national, provincial and local governments explained

Welcome,

An introduction to Papua New Guinea’s legal system including structure of government and national, provincial and local governments.

Inside the National Parliament of Papua New Guinea. Credit: BAI

Since achieving independence in 1975, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea has been governed democratically in accordance with its Constitution. It is a member of the British Commonwealth and operates under the Westminster system. Changes of Government since 1975 have been peaceful and democratic.

National government

The Constitution makes clear that PNG has a unitary system of government. In other words, the country is a single unit with a national parliament. The Head of State of Papua New Guinea is the British Sovereign, represented by the Governor-General, who is a citizen of Papua New Guinea nominated by parliament. The leader of the government is the Prime Minister. Under the Constitution, the power, authority and jurisdiction of the people of PNG are to be exercised by the national government, which is made up of three principal arms: the legislature, the national executive and the national judicial system.

The National Parliament has legislative power in connection with foreign investment, exchange control, immigration, trading and financial corporations, banking, most taxation, customs and excise, shipping and overseas trade.

PNG has a robust political party system governed by the PNG Registrar of Parties. The major political parties are the Papua and Niugini Union [Pangu] Party, People’s National Congress, National Alliance, the United Resources Party, the Papua New Guinea Party, and the People’s Progress Party. Ideological distinctions between the parties tend not to be substantial and affiliations between the parties are flexible.

Provincial government

Within PNG, there are 21 separate provinces and a National Capital District, which has a status similar to provincial governments. Provincial governments have their powers delegated from the National Parliament and are subordinate to the National Parliament.

Provincial legislatures can pass laws on a limited, but important, range of matters including agriculture, fishing, trade and industry, land and land development, forestry and natural resources. Provincial governments also have certain limited powers to raise revenue, including the right, subject to certain conditions, to impose sales and services tax.

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Local government

A local government system was introduced to the country by the colonial administration. Generally, a council will represent a number of villages and will manage and administer the area under its control. Local-level government has legislative power in connection with, among other things, labour and employment, provision of water and electricity, local trading and the local environment.

Depending on the location, size and nature of its enterprise, a foreign investor may need to consider the acts, regulations and policies of all three tiers of government operating in the country.

This section was prepared by Dentons PNG for Business Advantage PNG.

Comments

  1. Cristian Shoemaker says

    PNG is such an amazing country with incredible people, culture, natural areas and resources. I sincerely hope that PNG will find its way to strong, hopeful and healthy families living across the country with satisfaction and security, sharing in the progress of the future. Although there are certainly economic, environmental and political challenges, PNG can do it. Preserve what is there, strengthen what it there, and share what is there.

  2. Allan Wawah says

    The article is informative. We have governments globally for a purpose, to bring prosperity in terms of wealth, good health, education and industries that people depend on for their livelihood sustainability should be dynamic and vibrant.

    PNG recieved its political independence from Australia peacefully and democratically in 1975. Reflecting back to 1975, our country has not progressed economically and socially. We are still classified as a developing economy. What has gone wrong with the government levels and its arms. Since independence, localisation has drastically taken place. We have local PNGeans in key positions of authority in all levels and arms of government, yet the economy is not sound and strong. The current socioeconomic outlook in PNG is alarming in terms of education, health, electricity, transport and infrastructures, banking and so on. Affordability and availability of public goods and services are serious concern.

    The PNG vision of becoming an industrialised, rich, Christian black economy may not be realised because of the lack of effectiveness and efficiency within the the levels and arms of government. Separation of powers should be promoted and with young, energetic, honest, responsible and innovative educated elites in our public service machinery, PNG can be directed towards positive changes.

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