The Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) has asked government to reconsider its decision to reject key recommendations by the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) on the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).
At a workshop held in Accra on Wednesday September 19 to review the final report of the CRC, the IEA pointed out that the current provisions of the Constitution makes the composition of the NDPC "almost 90 per cent controlled by the government of the day". According to IEA, this adversely hinders the NDPC's functions.
These and other points were contained in a presentation made by Professor Stephen Adei, Professor of Economics at the Pentecost University, on the theme: "Towards a Long Term National Development Agenda for Ghana: The Role of the National Development Planning Commission" at the workshop.
Government has indicated in a white paper on the final report of the CRC that "the scope of the National Development Plan should be a matter of legislation and circumstances prevailing and not a function of constitutional prescription" - rejecting a CRC recommendation for NDPC's plans to be binding on all governments.
But participants at the workshop said an autonomous NDPC whose plans will be binding on governments should be the way forward.
Below are the full recommendations contained in Profesor Adei's presentation at IEA-organinsed workshop on Wednesday:
1. Modern development is "intentional and thinking intensive" and that no nation can develop without a well thought out plan and a strong and independent development think tank. In making the NDPC more independent, participants called for a change in the composition of the NDPC to include qualified persons from all sections of the Ghanaian society irrespective of their political association.
2. There should be a reconciliation of the positions of government and the CRC as far as the entrenching of the national development plan is concerned since both are not mutually exclusive.
3. National development plans must not only be entrenched and binding. Leaders must also have long term vision and commitment to ensure that development plans are implemented. In this regard, participants maintained that "Leadership is cause, everything else is effect".
4. Participants decried the frequent changes in plans and the huge financial loss that this imposes on the state. They recommended one broad national development plan for the nation and called on all political parties to tune their manifestoes in line with the long term plan.
5. Development planning should be from the bottom to the top and the NDPC should play the role of facilitating the development of the long term plan that encapsulates the views and contributions of the ordinary people in order to ensure ownership of such development plans. To be able to effectively undertake and discharge its mandate, participants called on governments to adequately resource the NDPC and ensure a timeous release of funds to them.
6. Political leadership across board to eschew partisanship in matters of national interest and commit themselves to the long term development of the country in the interest of the citizens as a whole.
7. State institutions must be strengthened and be made resilient. To achieve this, persons appointed to state institutions must maintain their independence of thought and neutrality. They must be committed to the national cause irrespective of whoever appointed them.
8. Mass education of the ordinary people must be made a foremost priority in Ghana's development process. Without education, all efforts at national development will not yield the expected results and the people will not be in the position to hold their leaders accountable.
9. Finally, participants called on the Constitutional Review Implementation Committee to clarify the issues concerning a binding long term national plan to cabinet in order for the government to take a second look at its position on the CRC recommendations on national development planning.