Ghana's development partners have signed an agreement among themselves re-affirming their commitment to aid effectiveness and harmonisation in order for the country to successfully attain a middle-income status and achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by 2015.
Under a new framework, known as Ghana's Joint Assistance Strategy (G-JAS), 16 heads of missions, as well as multilateral and development co-operation bodies in the country, yesterday appended their signatures to a document to stress their commitment to a regime of more effective aid partnership between the government and its development partners.
The partners include the African Development Bank (AfDB), Canada, Denmark, the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Commission.
The rest are France, Germany, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Italy, Japan, The Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, the United States, the United Nations and the World Bank.
The G-JAS will uphold a general principle whereby unilateral decisions on aid and its allocations will give way to decisions based on a coherent development framework anchored on Ghana's own priorities and joint agreements under the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS) II.
The agreement means that development partners have, among others, agreed that they will always use a consultative means of coming up with programmes and support for the country or sectors of the economy, not do so unilaterally from their individual countries.
“This is a special move to try to do things better, more effectively and supportive of the development strategy,” the World Bank Country Director, Mr Mats Karlsson, said at the signing ceremony in Accra.
He said within that process, development partners would deepen their understanding of the government's implementation of the GPRS II by mapping out the results.
He said the process would also enable the development partners to match government resources against programmes and know which gaps to fill.
“It is our duty too to ensure aid effectiveness, co-ordination and harmonisation. Today, we are agreeing to do it better in a joint commitment,” Mr Karlsson stated.
The High Commissioner of the United Kingdom, Mr Gordon Witherell, said, “This is another major step forward in harmonising and cutting unnecessary overhead costs and share in the country's future.”
The Chief Director of the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, Nana Juaben-Boaten Siriboe, who received a copy of the signed commitment on behalf of the government, described the development as positive and marked another phase in the country's development process.
“We are moving in the right direction and Ghana will be better off in the end,” he said, adding that the G-JAS would also ensure that recipients of aid would have a greater input in the dialogue leading up to projects which were supported.
The G-JAS is the response of the development partners to how to support the goals and objectives set out in the country's development blueprint, the GPRS II.
Although the GPRS II will span 2007 to 2009, the donors have designed their commitment to stretch to 2010 to make way for the preparation of the GPRS III.
It is a fulfilment of an earlier agreement between the government and its partners at the Consultative Group Meeting in November 2005 on what the partners would contribute towards achieving the objectives of the GPRS II.
Known as the Ghana Partnership Strategy (GPS), it consists of a results matrix (based on the GPRS II framework), a harmonisation and aid effectiveness action plan and an overview of the financial flows (actual and projected) from development partners.
For Ghana, the implementation of the G-JAS will mean the development partners' recognition of the fact that the government is the owner and leader of the development process and a better alignment of country strategies and spending plans of development partners with GPRS II priorities and targets.
It will also lead to improvement in aid delivery by moving towards a more efficient “division of labour” and allocation of resources by partners, the simplification of aid management and improved aid predictability, as well as the reduction in transaction costs for the government.
Story by Samuel Doe Ablordeppey