An introduction to Papua New Guinea’s legal system including structure of government and national, provincial and local governments.
Since achieving independence in 1975, the Independent State of Papua New Guinea has been governed democratically in accordance with its Constitution. It is a member of the British Commonwealth and operates under the Westminster system. Changes of Government since 1975 have been peaceful and democratic.
The Constitution makes clear that PNG has a unitary system of government. In other words, the country is a single unit with a national parliament. The Head of State of Papua New Guinea is the British Sovereign, represented by the Governor-General, who is a citizen of Papua New Guinea nominated by parliament. The leader of the government is the Prime Minister. Under the Constitution, the power, authority and jurisdiction of the people of PNG are to be exercised by the national government, which is made up of three principal arms: the legislature, the national executive and the national judicial system.
The National Parliament has legislative power in connection with foreign investment, exchange control, immigration, trading and financial corporations, banking, most taxation, customs and excise, shipping and overseas trade.
PNG has a robust political party system governed by the PNG Registrar of Parties. The major political parties are the Papua and Niugini Union [Pangu] Party, People’s National Congress, National Alliance, the United Resources Party, the Papua New Guinea Party, and the People’s Progress Party. Ideological distinctions between the parties tend not to be substantial and affiliations between the parties are flexible.
Within PNG, there are 21 separate provinces and a National Capital District, which has a status similar to provincial governments. Provincial governments have their powers delegated from the National Parliament and are subordinate to the National Parliament.
Provincial legislatures can pass laws on a limited, but important, range of matters including agriculture, fishing, trade and industry, land and land development, forestry and natural resources. Provincial governments also have certain limited powers to raise revenue, including the right, subject to certain conditions, to impose sales and services tax.
A local government system was introduced to the country by the colonial administration. Generally, a council will represent a number of villages and will manage and administer the area under its control. Local-level government has legislative power in connection with, among other things, labour and employment, provision of water and electricity, local trading and the local environment.
Depending on the location, size and nature of its enterprise, a foreign investor may need to consider the acts, regulations and policies of all three tiers of government operating in the country.
This section was prepared by Dentons PNG for Business Advantage PNG.
Credit: Source link