Some discussants at the just-ended National Economic Forum have suggested that in spite of the boycott of the forum by the New Patriotic Party (NPP), the government must make a conscious effort to consider some of the constructive criticisms and ideas that will be offered by the NPP and others even after the event.
They said the forum was meant to offer a platform for all sections of Ghanaians to express diverse views on how best the economy could be managed, for which reason the door should be opened to all Ghanaians to feed into the content and direction of the national economic policy.
The forum, they stated, was not an event but a process that would go beyond Akosombo to allow Ghanaians to make an input.
They, however, described the boycotting of the forum by the NPP as unfortunate, as they, like many other participants, received invitation to the event late.
The discussants included the Secretary-General of the TUC, Mr Samuel Asamoah; the Campaign Co-ordinator of Integrated Social Development Centre (lSODEC), Dr Steve Manteaw, and a labour consultant, Mr Austin Gamey.
Embrace all shades of opinion
Mr Asamoah said it would serve the collective interest of the people if all “shades of opinion” were encouraged to feed into the consensus that would be arrived at after the three-day event.
“It is time we, as a nation, adopted a non-political approach towards any future national dialogue to bring on board all shades of opinions,” he said.
He said the presence of the NPP could have allowed the party to have a significant influence on the agenda set for the forum and to critique any ideas that would be shared.
“Perhaps the NPP could also have brought out what they wanted to say for their views to be featured in the whole consensus to be reached,” he added.
“I see it as unfortunate that the NPP could not be part of this important national event. If a party stayed away but ended up criticising the outcome of the economic forum, I find that inappropriate,” he said.
Forum is ongoing process
Dr Manteaw said the government must embrace the views of the NPP if those views were “deemed of value and must be factored into the forum processes”.
“As we have been made to understand, the forum is not an event but a process and even after we leave Akosombo, the intention is to pursue continuously the dialogue to ensure that Ghanaians are able to feed into the content and direction of the national economic policy.
“I do not think that the decisions and outcomes of this forum would be much different from some of the views we have heard the NPP articulate.
“But even where there are differences, the opportunity exists to listen to those disagreements properly to find a way to harmonise them. That is the beginning of the long role the government has initiated — a role to rally support behind national economic policies,” he said.
Make conscious efforts to reach NPP
Dr Manteaw said should the NPP come up with any criticism, attempts must be made to reach out to the party, so that those criticisms would be made in the confines of dialogue embarked on by the government.
“It is my wish that the democratic culture we are putting in place be continued and that if tomorrow the NPP is in power and continues the national dialogue, other parties would have the basis to come on board.
“In my view, this forum is a non-political platform if you look at the make-up of the participants who are people with integrity and repute, many of whom you cannot assign any political colorisation.
“I think it would be in the NPP’s interest to have come and made known their views on national matters,” he added.
For his part, Mr Gamey said much as the letter of invitation to the various participants came in late, the NPP should have overlooked that slip made by the government.
In his opinion, the presence of Mr Kwame Pianin and Dr Paul Acquah, a former Governor of the Bank of Ghana who served under President John Agyekum Kufuor, made a lot of difference at the forum.
“The presence of these two prominent NPP members added so much rich knowledge to the forum,” he said.
Mr Gamey indicated that though the NPP had every democratic right as a political party to stay away from a national event, its actions did not serve the supreme interest of the people.