Need for Social Accountability

The first National Social Accountability Summit was hosted from 1-3 February 2023 in Port Moresby, by the Consultative Implementation & Monitoring Council (CIMC) in partnership with the PNG-Australia Partnership.

It brought together civil society organizations, public officials and service providers.

The theme was ‘Sharing and Learning from Innovators and Practitioners.’

The purpose of the summit was to stimulate critical thinking and discussions around social accountability tools to use and empower citizens to advocate for accountability on the management of public resources.

Paul Barker, Director for Institute of National Affairs says it is important for the government to report to its people.

“Why does the government report our financial status to the IMF, to the World Bank, to the outside bodies?"

“Why aren’t we reporting domestically. They are our consumers, they are the people who largely fund the government, and they’re the ones who are recipients of the public services. And if they’re not being delivered, they’re the ones who suffer from it,” said Barker.

He adds that, “Governments need to be accountable to their own citizens and it’s a mindset in a way.

“We have a problem where governments have got used to sort of sitting behind the shield and thinking well this are our assets, these are our funds, we don’t have to really report to anyone. Maybe we have to report to parliament, maybe we have to report but we don’t have to report to the public.

“So there’s a significant shift in thinking.”

The Summit also aimed to map out innovators and practitioners in the social accountability space at present and initiate partnerships and collaborations to achieve positive development outcomes in Papua New Guinean communities.

Thomas Eluh, Interim Chairman for the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) and Chairman of CIMC Governance and Service Delivery Committee says the government has good plans and strategies. However, there are missing links.

“There’s good plans. There are good strategies but yet there is something definitely wrong somewhere. The evidence is not there to show that the people are benefitting from the good plans and strategies that the governments do have,” Eluh said.

CIMC states that government and non-state actors committing to social accountability would increase the demand for accountability in the management of public resources. This will eventually contribute to improved governance, increased development effectiveness through improved service delivery, and empowerment in the long term.

Marysila Kellerton