This event is largely based on the recently completed Papua New Guinea National Audit of the Informal Economy, carried out by the PNG Government with support from the PNG Consultative Implementation and Monitoring Council, UN Women and the European Union. This appears to be a global first, but it is possible to compare the situation in PNG with less comprehensive research results from other jurisdictions. PNG has previously led the way in terms of establishing national legislation and policy with regard to its informal economy, but the audit findings are leading to a reconfiguration of policy. The policy response can be aligned with PNG’s Medium Term Development Plan which aims for “inclusive sustainable economic growth”.
The audit found that the informal economy is probably larger than the rest of the non-resource economy in terms of its contribution to GDP. It appears to have been growing faster than the formal economy, and it provides around 80% of employment and 90% of the incomes for local people. The incomes of informal economy workers have risen so they are commonly higher than the wages of formal workers, and most formal workers now supplement their wages through involvement in the informal economy. However this part pf the economy is stagnating, and there is a risk that its growth will not keep pace with urbanisation unless there are some policy shifts to increase its productivity. These include incentivising diversification, creating business confidence and establishing new pathways for business growth.