Power, pork and patronage: Decentralisation and the politicisation of the development budget in Papua New Guinea

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Matthew Allen
Zahid Hasnain


This paper examines a number of recent empirical studies of local-level decision-making in relation to development planning and, especially, the allocation of state development funds in Papua New Guinea. The discussion is framed by the extensive theoretical and Papua New Guinea literature on patronage politics and political culture, by the recent history of decentralisation reforms, and by the frequently articulated, but largely anecdotal, observations about the functioning of district and local-level governance processes.In contrast to the anecdotal vision of widespread and chronic dysfunctionality, the studies considered here paint a picture of considerable spatial and regional variation. We offer some tentative hypotheses to explain this variation, while flagging the need for more empirical work. We outline how these preliminary findings have informed a program of research that is currently being undertaken at the district and local government levels with a view to gaining a better understanding of the extent and nature of spatial variation in the local-level governance of state development funds in Papua New Guinea.

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How to Cite
Allen, M., & Hasnain, Z. (1). Power, pork and patronage: Decentralisation and the politicisation of the development budget in Papua New Guinea. Commonwealth Journal of Local Governance, (6), 7-31. https://doi.org/10.5130/cjlg.v0i6.1617
Research and Evaluation (peer-reviewed)
Author Biographies

Matthew Allen, Australian National University

Matthew Allen is a Postdoctoral Fellow with the Resource Management in Asia-Pacific Program (RMAP) at the ANU. His background is in political anthropology and human geography. His Ph.D. thesis investigated the 1998-2003 conflict in Solomon Islands from the perspective of ex-militants. Matthew has also conducted research in Papua New Guinea and Vanuatu. His primary research interests are the political economy and political ecology of extractive resource industries and resource conflict in Melanesia. He also works on local-level governance, identity politics, interventionism, rural development and smallholder agriculture.

Zahid Hasnain, The World Bank

Zahid Hasnain is a public sector and governance specialist at the World Bank (East Asia and Pacific Region). He works on Mongolia, Indonesia and Papua New Guinea in the areas of public financial management and public sector reform, decentralization, and natural resource management.