Freedom in the World
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Papua New Guinea
Freedom Rating (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Civil Liberties (1 = best, 7 = worst)
Political Rights (1 = best, 7 = worst)
A March 2009 Ombudsman’s report revealed serious misuse of government funds in Papua New Guinea. Despite growing domestic discontent and external criticism, lawmakers failed to address governance issues and rising violence, or improve economic and social welfare during the year. Meanwhile, lawmakers voted to significantly increase their own pay and other forms of compensation.
Logging and other forms of natural-resource exploitation have provided a significant increase in revenue for the government, spurring economic growth in recent years. However, poverty remains widespread, infrastructure is poor, and literacy, health, and other human development indicators all remain low. Parliament has failed to implement necessary reforms in the education and healthcare sectors, and the courts and other public institutions are understaffed and poorly resourced. Meanwhile, lawmakers unanimously voted in January 2008 to increase funding for their own allowances and perks, amounting to an additional $10 million annually for the national budget. Parliament approved the 2009 budget, which included $11 million as part of a five-year loan repayment arrangement to purchase a $46 million French-made jet airplane for the prime minister’s use. Lawmakers voted unanimously again in 2009 to increase their accommodation and transportation allowances by 42 percent and 50 percent, respectively; the increase represents another $35,000 per lawmaker each year, or $3.8 million for all 109 members of Parliament.
PNG is an electoral democracy. However, the 2007 elections were marred by reports of fraud, lost ballots, attacks on journalists and candidates, and deaths. Voters elect a unicameral, 109-member Parliament to serve five-year terms. A limited preferential voting system allows voters to choose up to three preferred candidates on their ballots. The prime minister, the leader of the majority party or coalition, is formally appointed by the governor-general, who represents Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II as head of state.