Asia & the Pacific Policy Studies

The political economy of road management reform: Papua New Guinea’s National Road Fund

By Matthew Dornan

Papua New Guinea’s (PNG’s) road system is in a parlous state after decades of neglect. More than half of the roads in the country require urgent rehabilitation. The PNG Government sought from 2003 to address the problem through the establishment of a Road Fund designed to earmark revenue for road management. Development partners supported these efforts, which were similar to reforms implemented in other parts of the world. This article examines the establishment of an independent road fund and road management agency in PNG. It finds that these reforms have not markedly improved road conditions, and that they have been undermined by a lack of support from political leaders and parts of the civil service. The article’s conclusion, that the establishment of a road fund is no panacea against political obstacles to road maintenance funding, is relevant to a broader literature concerning the establishment of independent institutions to address governance challenges.

(Photo by Kahunapule Michael Johnson on flickr)

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