Papua New Guinea

Independent State of Papua New Guinea
Population 6,672,429 (July 2015)
Independence 1975, Australia
Languages English (official), Tok Psin (official), Hiri Motu (official)
Form of government Constitutional parliamentary democracy; Commonwealth realm
GDP (2014) $16.6 billion; per capita (2014): $2, 400

Papua New Guinea, located on the eastern half of the island of New Guinea, shares its western border with Indonesia; it lies just north of Australia and west of the Solomon Islands.

Independent since 1975, Papua New Guinea (PNG) is one of the most ethnically diverse countries in the world, with a population that speaks more than 800 distinct languages.. From 1988 to 1997, a violent secessionist movement on the island of Bougainville claimed an estimated 20,000 lives. A peace deal signed in 2001 provided the framework for the election in 2005 of an autonomous government for Bougainville, and an independence vote is expected in the coming years.

Papua New Guinea’s Vision 2050 maps out the future direction of the country and reflects the aspirations of the people of PNG. The vision is centered around seven pillars: (1) Inclusive Development of Human Capital; (2) Wealth Creation; (3) Institutional Development and Service Delivery; (4) Security and International Relations; (5) Environmental Sustainability and Climate Change; (6) Spiritual, Cultural and Community Development; and (7) Strategic Planning, Integration and Control.

Papua New Guinea has been a member of the g7+ since 2010.

Government Title Name
Governor General H.E. Michael OGIO
Prime Minister H.E. Peter Paire O'NEILL
Minister of Treasury H.E. Patrick PRUAITCH
g7+ Focal Point Mr. Floyd LALA, Advisor, Ministry of Treasury

Though a sovereign state, Papua New Guinea is affiliated with the British Commonwealth. Its head of state is Queen Elizabeth II, who is represented in country by a Governor-General. The Governor-General is nominated by parliamentary vote. The Governor-General appoints the Prime Minister, traditionally the head of the leading party in parliament, who serves as head of government. The cabinet is the National Executive Council and is appointed by the Governor-General in consultation with the Prime Minister.

The unicameral 111-seat legislature is the National Parliament. Members are elected to serve five-year terms. The last elections were held in 2012: The Prime Minister’s party won approximately 25 percent of seats, and independents 15 percent; the remaining 68 seats are shared among 20 small parties. The next parliamentary elections are scheduled for 2017.

Papua New Guinea’s 19 provinces are governed by provincial councils and local officials.

Most of Papua New Guinea’s people live in rural areas, where access to employment opportunities and social services is limited. 75 percent of households rely on subsistence agriculture. Education and healthcare have declined in past decades, and food insecurity, malnutrition, and stunting is prevalent. Infrastructure is weak: less than 10 percent of the population has access to electricity, and the mountainous terrain is a challenge to road construction. National wealth has increased as a result of growing extractive industries, but poverty rates remain stagnant.

Papua New Guinea’s 2011-2015 Medium Term National Development Plan, the first of four five-year strategic plans to be carried out between 2010 to 2030, sets national priorities for poverty reduction and economic development. The plan calls for focused investment in five key areas: (1) infrastructure; (2) health; (3) education; (4) building skills and human capital; and (5) law and order.

Papua New Guinea is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas, gold, silver, copper, and timber. The extractives sector and the agriculture and fisheries sector generate the bulk of national GDP. The country was accepted as a member of the Extractive Industries Transparency Initiative (EITI) in 2014, and is expected to publish its first compliance report in 2016. Poor infrastructure, weak regulatory policy and contract enforcement, and political instability are primary constraints to private investment in Papua New Guinea.

Large foreign investments are concentrated in oil and gas and mining industries, still largely underdeveloped, but the government is seeking to diversify the economy through increased investment in tourism and agribusiness. Coffee and cocoa are primary agricultural exports. Government has also recently opened up the telecommunications and transport markets, enabling private investment in construction and service provision in these sectors.