PNG’s 2016 GDP figures: better late than never

By Dek Joe Sum

The PNG National Statistical Office (NSO) finally released 2016 Gross Domestic Product (GDP) figures in April. While it’s good to have the data, releasing GDP figures with a delay of over two years can’t be satisfactory. Moreover, the summary presented on the NSO website paints a relatively rosy picture. Digging deeper into the numbers tells a different story.

This analysis solely focuses on the constant (real) GDP to eliminate the price effects across different years. A comparison of the GDP series reported by PNG’s NSO and Treasury is made to ensure data consistency. Figure 1 shows that both institutions reported the same GDP series until 2013. But inconsistencies start in 2014 – another sign that all is far from well with PNG’s official economic statistics. The new Treasurer has announced that work is underway to develop a common methodology for estimating GDP. On the basis that the NSO is more independent than Treasury (and because it receives technical assistance from the Australian Bureau of Statistics), we preference the former’s results.

Figure 1: PNG’s real GDP & GDP per capita growth – NSO vs Treasury

According to the NSO, economic growth in PNG slowed from 13.6% in 2014 to 9.5% in 2015 and to 4.1% in 2016. Growth in recent years has been mainly supported by the PNG LNG project. During this period, the mineral or resource sector has registered more than 10% growth every year, with a record high 74% growth in 2015.

Since the resource sector is largely foreign-owned, and since there is no gross national income (GNI) data, the best indicator to monitor the economic performance of PNG as a nation is non-resource GDP (that is, total output excluding the resources, or mineral and petroleum sectors). As shown in Figure 2, the growth rate of non-resource GDP experienced …read more

From:: Development Policy Centre – DEVPOLICY Blog

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