Budgetary data in PNG: taking the long view

PNG Budget database - Revenue and expenditure per capita

The Development Policy Centre is proud to publish the PNG Budget Information Database, a spreadsheet which compiles information from PNG government budgets from 1989 to 2017.

There is lots of budgetary information available in PNG, but most of it is available in the annual budgets. Budgets can be difficult to navigate and make sense of in and of themselves. Piecing different budgets together and comparing them over time is time-consuming, but important to understand what is really going on.

Now you can find the data all in one place.

Taking a longer-term view, back to 1989, is pretty interesting. Adjusting for inflation, per capita revenue and expenditure (excluding interest) are today the same levels as almost thirty years ago! Of course the population has almost doubled since 1989, but many expenditures need to increase with population for service delivery to keep up (think of teachers, doctors, police and much infrastructure). Also think about how expectations have grown relative to 1989, for example, how much is given to MPs through the District Services Improvement Program (DSIP). But all the old services (health, education, police) are still required. No wonder fiscal pressure in PNG is so intense right now.

Revenue and expenditure per capita, 1989 to 2016

PNG Budget database - Revenue and expenditure per capita

The PNG Budget Information Database has been compiled to be in the same format as the original budget documents and compiles information about revenue, expenditure, GDP, inflation, finance and debt from Volume 1 of successive budgets. Importantly, we also show you how you can straddle the recent changes in budgetary accounting conventions and rules.

The database is freely available online to any member of the public, government, NGO, media or researcher for their own analysis and comparisons over time.

The numbers are often especially useful for comparing to the most recent budgetary information. We’ll be updating the database twice yearly: when the Final Budget Outcome (FBO) is released (which should be very soon) and then at budget time.

Rohan Fox is the primary author of this database, but many people at the Development Policy Centre have collaborated over several years and contributed many hours to produce the database. Our thanks to them all.

So please, download the database, use it, and forward it to interested colleagues and friends. Let us know at devpolicy@anu.edu.au if you spot any errors or have any suggestions.

Download the database by visiting this URL which links to the Devpolicy PNG Project website, or by clicking the direct download link here [.xlsx].

Rohan Fox is a Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre. Stephen Howes is the Centre’s Director.

Figure notes: Look at the “Analysis” tab in the database to see how the figure was constructed. 

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Rohan Fox

Rohan Fox was a Research Officer at the Development Policy Centre. He lectured in the economics program at the University of Papua New Guinea in 2015, 2016 and 2020.

Stephen Howes

Stephen Howes is Director of the Development Policy Centre and Professor of Economics at the Crawford School of Public Policy at The Australian National University.


    • Thank you very much for the comment and for linking to your presentation. A very in-depth analysis. I am glad to see the database being used, and hope it is useful in to the future for many more researchers. – Rohan Fox

  • Thanks a lot for this suggestion. We do have a time series of DSIP and similar schemes over time, and we can load this. As you suggest though, it seems to be impossible to get a series of actual expenditures as against budget amounts. – Stephen Howes.

  • It was great interest that i read the and came to know about the PNG Budget Information Database in this article. I appreciate and thank the effort of Rohan Fox and the team. This budgetary information provides a compressed and intuitive information on the budget since 1989 which can be accessed very easily by anyone. This initiative somewhat paves the way for serious consideration by the government of PNG to consider government open data in order to have public participatory in budget allocation and expenditure, and transparency. In addition to budget data, as suggestion, if possible, it would be of greater interest to the PNG citizens if DSIP and PSIP acquittals are also published. It is a known fact that the Department of Planning (DoP) has been slack due to various reasons over years in effectively monitoring and evaluating DSIP and PSIP projects. The public, on availability of the acquittal data, can keep the MP’s accountable where DoP cannot do so. It is also a known fact that DSIP and PSIP grants are the most misused and misappropriated grants by the Members of Parliament. It’s time that the citizens participate in budget allocations and expenditure as they know what they really need in their communities better then the MP’s.

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