General News of Wednesday, 2 December 2015
The Greater Accra Regional Minister, Nii Laryea Afotey Agboh, has said that a long-term development plan for Ghana will provide the consistency and continuity needed “for the preservation of the supreme national interest along with the flexibility that must be allowed for different political party strategies.”
Calling on Ghanaians to discard “all partisan political considerations and rather work towards achieving a common goal,” he observed that development planning was not new to Ghana. “We should be guided by the successes and failures of previous plans, and also draw on the varied lessons and experiences from countries that have done the same,” he advised.
The Minister, was addressing the Greater Accra Regional Forum held on 26-27 November 2015 in Accra, the last of the 10 regional consultations organised by the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), to engage the citizenry on the development discourse for an inclusive long term planning for the nation. This ended the first phase of the process for developing the long-term plan for the nation that began in August 2015.
Speaking on behalf of the Progressive People’s Party (PPP), one of the six main political parties involved in the regional consultations, Ms. Eva Lokko called on political parties to start thinking outside the box and forget about the “we-know-what-you-want manifestos.”
She said NDPC should be commended for winning the battle to implement its mandate of providing a development plan for the nation, and expressed the hope that “they will have all the legal backing to ensure that the long-term development plan is implemented by each and every government from now on.”
Ms. Lokko called for a plan that would curb corruption, provide every Ghanaian child with free, compulsory, continuous, quality education to ensure a productive citizenry. The plan should also ensure preventive health care as the first line of defence because curative health care is very expensive.
Ghanaians should rally behind NDPC, own the process and hold governments accountable so that when any government reneges on the agreed plan, the people can vote them out, she concluded.
The Chairman of NDPC, Professor Kwesi Botchwey, pointed out that the surest way to secure the sustainability of the long-term plan is to legitimise it by “ensuring that the process of preparing the plan is sufficiently inclusive and participatory.”
The long term plan, according to Prof. Botchwey, would succeed if some legal anchors were put in place to commit all governments to its implementation. He commended the political parties that contested the 2012 general elections; Convention People’s Party, Great Consolidated Popular Party, National Democratic Congress, New Patriotic Party, People’s National Convention and Progressive People’s Party, for their active participation throughout the regional consultations.
The Director-General of NDPC, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, noted that 40 years is not as daunting as some people think. He said the period should be viewed “as a total of 10 medium-term plans, each lasting four years, which will also be prepared by every government.”
Over the period, between 2017 and 2056, there will be 10 general elections, he said; adding that political party manifestos must not be in isolation but should work towards a higher purpose “once we have a drafted a national long-term plan.” There would also be reviews by Parliament every 10 years, which will transform the country economically, socially, environmentally, institutionally and strengthen Ghana’s position in the global economy.
Dr. Thompson said a number of preconditions must be met before the plan can be effectively implemented. These were: energy self-sufficiency; land reform; a functional civil registration and vital statistics system; a national identification system; completion of the street-naming and house-numbering exercise; and targeted public sector reforms.
He pointed out that most of the problems the nation is saddled with today (education, energy, infrastructure development among others) are the result of lack of planning. He said, “dumsor” has become the bane of development today “because we failed to plan 40 years ago.” The only sure way to deal with “dumsor” was to plan now for energy self-sufficiency, otherwise the situation would be worse 40 years from now, he warned. After the opening session, groups were formed to exchange ideas as inputs into the long-term national development plan. They discussed five broad themes: social development; economic development; environmental development; institutional development/governance; and Ghana in the international community.
Participants at the forum included officials from ministries, departments and agencies; civil society organisations; students; traditional rulers from the region; identifiable groups and political party representatives.
Ahead of the Greater Accra consultative forum, a group of NDPC Commissioners and staff and political party representatives, paid a courtesy call on the Paramount Chief of Osu, Nii Okwei Kinka Dowuona VI, who is also President of the Osu Traditional Council.