The Director General of the National Development Planning Commission [NDPC], Dr. Nii Moi Thompson has expressed worry over the institutional incoherence which is hindering the implementation of government policies over the past decades.
He noted that development thrives in an atmosphere where people develop the habit of changing their attitude and mindset towards policies that will brings development.
Dr. Thompson noted that a common refrain since the process for the long-term national development plan was launched has been the problem of implementation.
He added that, among the most cited causes of weak plan implementation in the distant past are the frequent (and sometimes violent) changes in government which put existing plans on hold.
“But under the Fourth Republic, the factors are more institutional, some occurring across governments and others intra – government (You may call them self-inflicted), ” he stated.
The Director General of NDPC indicated that arbitrary and whimsical shifts in policy priorities during plan implementation; frequent and unpredictable dissolution, formation, and combination of ministries, which sometimes requires months if not years of organisational and budgetary realignmens.
He added frequent changes in political and administrative leadership, with every new leader (typically a minister) often doing their best to undo most of what their predecessor did and starting afresh.
He pointed out that some ministries have been known to have as many as five or six ministers over the four-year plan cycle, leading to as needless disruptions in plan implementation.
For some, as soon as they are settled, they are moved or fired; all this adversely affects plan implementation, he noted.
According to him, the challenges closely associated with erratic changes in political or administrative leadership is the frequent transfer of highly skilled technocrats, including planners, across districts as a stop-gap measure to address deep-seated shortage of staff and skills that require stable and long-term solutions.
He indicated that there is also the problem of the constitutional provision that requires every new president to produce within two years a “Coordinated Programme of Economic and Social and Economic Policies”, which has had the unintended effect of encouraging every new president to basically ignore whatever they inherited, even though the same constitution says that “As far as practicable, a government shall continue and execute projects and programmes commenced by the previous Governments.”
Dr. Thompson added that the pending constitutional amendments are expected to help remove some of these seeming contradictions while the lessons learnt from programme implementation will help shape the new long-term national development plan.
On its part, he said, the NDPC has begun a series of reforms to standardise policy formulation as well as improve plan preparation and implementation.
According to him, a number of guidelines, including a manual for Monitoring and Evaluation, have been prepared in this regard.
He noted that this is to ensure that civil servants do comply with agreed plans, the Commission recently submitted to Parliament two legislative instruments that will finally give it the power to sanction errant civil servants.
Dr. Nii Moi Thompson said this when he addressed the students of the University of Professional Studies Accra about the basics of the 40 year plan explaining the concepts and the objectives of the long term plan.
He said the choice of 40 years for Ghana’s long-term national development, 2018-2057, was informed by a mixture of both sentimental and practical considerations, although with a strong bias toward the practical.
“In 2057, Ghana will turn 100 and so we thought it would be appropriate to plan towards around that special milestone in our history
“One concern is that “40 years is too long”. In fact, it is much shorter and closer than we think. Given, for instance, that the average age of a president under the Fourth Republic is 56 years, it is likely that the president of Ghana in the year 2057 is already in high school somewhere in this country as I speak
“In fact, most of the people who would be running this country then – parliamentarians, business men and women, lecturers, accountants, architects, and so forth are all teenagers today; the future is already upon us,” he explained.
But more importantly, he added, it must be explained that the long-term plan is not a single-continuous document that blindly ties the hands of successive governments.
Dr. Thompson said it is rather a special kind of plan, a framework, a plan of plans made up of 10 successive 4-year plans.
This means that the long-term plan would be like serviced plots for a new a modern community where each plot owner will chose their own building plan and finance their own construction but abide by commonly agreed standards – for instance, no open gutter, no loud music, etc. Similarly, each political party.
“Once we have agreed on the long-term plan (or the serviced plots), will come in with its own manifesto, informed by the long term plan, and use that to prepare a medium-term plan that works towards the higher ideals of the long-term plan (the modern community),” he noted.
He further explained by adding that the prospects for the long term national development plan is based on a national vision of a just, free and prosperous society.
While the national goal is to Improve the living conditions of all Ghanaians through social, economic, and institutional transformation in one generation.
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