PNG Businesses Significantly Affected By Corruption: Survey

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Institute of National Affairs’ surveyed 150 local businesses

By Alexander Rheeney

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (PNG Post-Courier, July 31, 2013) – Businesses in Papua New Guinea have put down corruption as one of the biggest impediments to their operation, a new survey by the Institute of National Affairs (INA) has revealed. The survey, which was co-funded by AusAID, Asian Development Bank and the INA, collected views from 150 businesses throughout PNG between May and December last year. A draft of the survey findings was published recently by the Port Moresby-based INA.

One of the key findings of the survey was the impact that corruption had on businesses with 28 percent of the respondents saying they were "highly" or "very highly affected" by official corruption, whilst another 28 percent indicated they were "fairly affected." The frequency of what the survey categorized as "irregular payments" to officials (in order to get things done) was also highlighted with respondents’ feedback showing that 30 percent concluded the practice "always" occurred while 13 percent suggested it occurred "frequently."

The survey findings confirm growing concerns within the private sector at the extent of corruption within PNG’s bureaucracy and the impact it was having on businesses generally, despite attempts by successive governments to minimize and eventually eradicate it through anti-corruption reforms and institutional strengthening programs.

Speaking to the Post-Courier last night, INA executive director Paul Barker said businesses put down corruption and law and order as the biggest obstacles to their operations in PNG. "It (corruption) is seen as the second major hindrance and widely impacting the respondents and some institutions like the Lands Department (were) highlighted as particularly frustrating a lot of the respondents," he said.

The survey findings should also compel the Government to implement their anti-corruption policies as well as act on the findings and recommendations of the various inquiries according to the INA executive director.

"We haven’t seen any evidence of policy reforms in Lands, we haven’t seen the reforms actually happening with respect to management, we haven’t seen the SABL inquiry report come out and obviously the Finance Inquiry and these sorts of things. There is a lot that people are aware of and it does substantially affect business."

In a bid to capture as much data as possible, the INA also distributed Mandarin-versions of the survey, confirming the changing dynamics of the PNG business sector with Chinese entrepreneurs playing an increasing role in commerce and trade.

The independence of the Central Supply and Tenders Board (CSTB) also came under scrutiny during the survey’s data collection phase with Mr. Barker revealing that businesses were worried that others were getting "unfair advantage" when it came to tendering for publicly-funded projects.

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