At the request of the Government of Papua New Guinea, officials from Samoa, Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and New Zealand have recently carried out a peer review of PNG’s development planning, budget and aid management practices.
PNG is the eighth country to be a part of the Forum Compact peer review process, following on from similar reviews in Nauru, Kiribati, Vanuatu, Tuvalu, Niue, Republic of the Marshall Islands, and Tonga.
Peer reviews began in 2009 after Pacific Islands Leaders agreed the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat (PIFS) should report annually to the Pacific Islands Forum via regular peer reviews of Forum Island countries’ development planning processes.
The peer review process helps promote international best practice in key sectors, including by encouraging an exchange of ideas around budget allocation and implementation processes in support of national development priorities; and the way in which island countries and donors coordinate development assistance to support these.
As well as meeting a range of government and other stakeholders in Port Moresby, the peer review team of experts in planning, budgeting and aid delivery visited Madang and East New Britain before presenting their preliminary findings and recommendations to the Government on Wednesday last week.
“While we bring our own country perspectives to the table, Papua New Guinea is truly unique in its challenges due to the sheer scale of its landmass, population and diversity of cultures and languages,” said Mr Matthew Pativato, Director Financial and Economic Development Unit in the Solomon Islands Ministry of Finance and Treasury.
“From our consultations in Madang … we have heard a consistent message in support of decentralisation of development funding from the national government directly to local-level governments. While this would give those closer to the people more opportunities to implement their planned development initiatives in a timely manner, there is also an understanding, and a plea, to strengthen the human capacity and systems at this level to support decentralisation.”
Rick Woodham, the PNG Peer Review team member from New Zealand, said the team had had some excellent discussions with a broad range of stakeholders, including government, the churches and the private sector.
“The PNG Peer Review has been especially interesting. While there are numerous coordination systems in place, some are functioning much more effectively than others. The government is keen to be seen to be making a real difference at the grass roots level, and is aware of both the opportunities and the many challenges it faces.”
“We will be making a number of recommendations designed to assist PNG make effective use of the resources it has available to promote sustainable development and make a real difference to the lives of ordinary people.”
“The Peer Review process gives New Zealand an opportunity to see development effectiveness from our Pacific partners’ perspective and to exchange and draw on the ideas of very experienced reviewers from other countries in the region,” he added.
The draft Peer Review report will be presented to the PNG government and to donor partners for comment. Once agreed with the government it will be published on the Forum website, and Forum officials will visit PNG to follow-up on any agreed recommendations.
Peer Reviews and their summaries are available for download here.
Pictured above right, Richard Woodham, Peer Review member from the New Zealand Aid Programme consults with Provincial Administration staff; Mr Mathew Pativato (centre), Peer Review member from the Solomon Island.