Thu, 10 Aug 2023 Feature Article

Ghana’s Dual Development Challenge

Ghana’s Dual Development Challenge

Ghana is currently grappling with a dual development challenge that is caused by leadership and technical advisory failures. The politicians have demonstrated their inability to efficiently manage the productive resources of the country. The current economic crisis has led many public policy analysts and economists to suggest that the country has a leadership crisis. That may not be the only development challenge: there is a technical failure too.

The politicians and technical people working at the Ministries and Departments (MDAs) as Chief Directors must always formulate economic policies. The politicians can equally formulate their economic policies and seek the advice of experts for their implementation. However, it appears there is heavy political dominance over the use of technical knowledge in the implementation of economic and social policies. So, the advisories of the technical people are neglected in the end, leading to systemic failures. The intertwining of political and technical failures has impeded the nation’s progress and ability to harness its full potential.

There is clear evidence of political failures that are being experienced from one regime to the next. There have been reports of corruption and governance deficits. Rampant corruption within the government and public institutions has undermined the country's development efforts. Corruption is experienced in the regime. The Auditor-General reports embezzlements of public funds annually, which politicians cannot curb.

The country does not have effective governance and accountability mechanisms that are properly developed and instituted to check perennial reports of corruption and mismanagement of public funds at the MDAs and the MMDAs. Transparent governance that can safeguard against corruption and misapplication of funds is lacking in the political culture of the country.

People with expertise in many areas relevant to the functioning of a government have failed the country, or the politicians are overshadowing them. There are no adequate reasons to explain the compounded challenges of the Ministry of Finance or the Central Bank of Ghana, because there are technical people to advise the leaders of these institutions in their policy choices.

Milton Friedman emphasized the relevance of technical advisory services in governance in his assertion that "The government solution to a problem is usually as bad as the problem." Political leadership has failed the country for many decades. Ghana may currently be experiencing abusive political leadership actions, which are justified in the end. Andrew Jackson claimed, "There are no necessary evils in government. Its evils exist only in its abuses." The governance system of Ghana has been characterized by the misuse of authority by the two major political parties.

The solution to perennial corruption, misappropriation, and misapplication of state funds cannot be identified in the political leadership or the political will of those who lead nations. The economic and development challenges of Ghana can only be addressed by the efficient use of technical expertise and solutions proffered by technical people such as Chief Directors, economists, and Financial experts employed in government institutions. Politicians have biases toward the implementation of policies. Their aim is always to achieve the end, regardless of the process or method used.

It is obvious that the economic and development challenges in Ghana are both a failure of political leadership and deficient technical advice by persons in charge of policy implementation. Political leadership opinions dominate the advisories of technical people. That is why, for over three decades, Ghana has not been able to address issues of mismanagement and embezzlement at the MDAs. Effective collaboration between policy formulation and implementation needs to be anchored on the practical advice of technical personnel at the Ministries, Departments, and Agencies.

Until the country finds a critical development role for people with technical expertise and involves such persons in policy coordination and implementation, the crisis will exacerbate to unbearable levels. The political elites do not have what is required to build an economy with ethical and balanced policy choices. The solution to our development challenges is found in the assertion of Jim Collins, who remarked that "First get the right people on the bus, the wrong people off the bus, and the right people in the right seats, and then figure out where to drive." Yet, changing the political leaders in election cycles does not engender the needed solution. There must be a national dialogue on the limits of political power in policy implementation.

Emmanuel Kwabena Wucharey
Economics Tutor, Advocate and Religion Enthusiast.

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