The issue of the government’s disbursement of the District Services Improvement Fund (DSIP) to Members of Parliament (MPs) has been one of a highlight topic of argument in recent times.
The issue stems from claims by the opposition MPs in recent Parliament terms that recent Prime Ministers withhold these DSIP funds unless the respective MPs join the government side for them to receive.
However, a recent research report undertaken by the Australian National University’s College of Asia and the Pacific finds no real connection with the issuing of DSIP that guarantees the return of a sitting MP as well the ruling government to remain in power.
Author Michael Kabuni, a Political Science lecturer at the School of Humanities and Social Science at University of Papua New Guinea said the report however identifies the lack of accountability on the use of this fund as well as the politicising of this development fund.
“DSIP’s are given to the 89 district MP’s in a system that is common in developing countries where the centralized government responsible for service delivery is believed to be ineffective,” Mr Kabuni said.
“On that basis MPs believe that DSIP is a more effective way of delivering local infrastructure projects.”
The DSIP guidelines were set by the Department of National Planning and Monitoring in 2013, much of it intended for infrastructure, health and education.
These guidelines were relaxed in 2016 where half of spending is under MPs discretion and the other half is determined by the District Development Authority.
“Nevertheless, the MP still has large control over the DDA and have found to make selective payments in an effort to increase voter base.”
Maholopa Laveil, another author and an Economics lecturer as the School of Business Public Policy at UPNG said on the accountability aspect, the Department of Implementation and Rural Development who is responsible had only visited 16 of the 89 districts in its last site visit in 2016.
“Their report along with the Auditor General’s report have complained of funding inconsistencies, lack of capacities and projects being of substandard quality and incomplete,” Mr Laveil said.
“The report suggests that if any DSIP reform is undertaken, this must be done on development rather than political grounds.”