He said consultations have already began, to mobilize the participation and
support of the various stakeholders and the base technical papers are
currently being prepared with support from various experts from various
sectors of society.
“To do that the current commission decided to continue with efforts initiated
in 2006 to evolve a long-term national policy development framework, spanning
30 years, out of which medium term programmes would be derived to serve as
strategic benchmarks to guide annual budgetary preparations,” he told The
Business Analyst in an exclusive interview.
Continuing he said, “The intention for the process of national long-term plan
to be fully participatory would involve participation of academia,
development think-tanks, political parties, formal and informal business
associations, civil society organizations (CSOs), faith-based organizations
(FBOs), Youth groups etc.”
Stressing the importance of youth participation, the NDPC Chairman said it is
their proposal that the long-term policy framework would be validated by all
stakeholders and entrenched by Parliament as a legally-binding document.
“It is this document therefore that would guide the development of the
national long-term plan, which would provide sensitivity for adaption to
emerging situations without losing sight of the vision and goals set in the
long-term framework,” Mr. Obeng explained.
“I have had preliminary discussions with Majority and Minority leaders in
Parliament about the intention and will soon be following up with formal
approaches,” he indicated as a means of building consensus.
The NDPC Chairman said till date, each president, working to fulfil the
constitutional provision which requires that a President, to, before the end
of its second year, lodge before Parliament a document on political and
economic development policies, has issued their own co-ordinated programmes
for social and economic development that conveys the president and his
government’s interpretation of what the constitutional policy demands.
“I see in that constitutional provision some sources of discontinuity,” Mr.
Obeng indicated, explaining that this is because each President would base
his government’s programme on the strength of the manifesto that got it into
power, since that is what the electorate would assess him by.
He said hitherto, all governments have been trapped by that constitutional
provision to focus on only the short-term to medium term and therefore all
the poverty reduction strategies, the Ghana Shared Growth and Development
Agenda (GSGDA) and all such documents in the past have been cast in
medium-term type context of generally four years or slightly beyond.
“But even when it is beyond four years, because of the requirement that the
president must lodge his own programme, it has always been interpreted to
mean that it must be programmes of their own, and therefore continuity has
sometimes not been seen as a pre-requisite,” he clarified.
He said it follows therefore that if all political parties present different
manifestoes with different ideological and developmental philosophies, then
it means there would be many such interpretations of the bigger vision.
This, he said explains why it is generally felt that there is discontinuity
in development vision, development policy, development programming and so
forth because each regime comes with its own.
According to Mr. Obeng, this situation will continue to be so unless the
whole country adapts one acceptable interpretation of what constitutes
national development and also establishes some broad understanding of
strategies that can be adapted to achieve that.
“If that is done and it is entrenched as part of the derived portions of the
Constitution then political parties and therefore future presidents, would
have to bring out a programme of social and economic development, derived and
inspired by the nationally accepted position on development,” he stressed.
Continuing, the NDPC Chairman said “This is why the call for, first, a
long-term national development framework, translated into a long-term
national development plan, is necessary. It is this document that would be a
yardstick by which programmes and manifestoes of political parties would be
On whether such a national policy and its interpretation would not make
manifestoes of political parties redundant, Mr. Obeng said if the whole
nation adopted such a policy and interpretation, then for a political party’s
manifesto to be accepted, it should take its roots and mandate from the
nationally accepted one.
“That way, manifestoes would come closer and closer to each other, and the
differences may be in the pace at which you want to develop and how
efficiently you want to apply resources and the capacity to mobilize
additional human and material resources to back generally agreed development
plan,” he added.
According to Mr. Obeng, it was the NDPC’s expectation that the draft of the
Long-term national development policy framework would be ready by June, an
intention that he announced at the 2012 new year School at the University of
Ghana, Legon, to assist political parties in the preparation of their
manifestoes but some constraints delayed the work.
“We are therefore seeking support from state and non-state agencies to help
us overcome the difficulties and reduce any slippages that those constraints
have caused,” he submitted.
rejected suggestions that there is no national vision, saying the
Constitution provides for that when it states that the people of Ghana ‘in
exercise of our natural and inalienable right to establish a framework of
government which shall secure for ourselves and posterity the blessings of
liberty, equality of opportunity and prosperity’ et cetera and therefore the
planners of the country, working in partnership with political, economic, and
social stakeholders, must derive an operational interpretation for what
constitutes that vision promised every citizen of Ghana.
Mr. Obeng said, this challenge notwithstanding, many attempts were made in
the past to venture into long-term planning to overcome part of these
difficulties, recalling the latest of such attempts being around 2006 under
the reign of President John Agyekum Kufuor.
“The extent to which that was made participatory is yet to be assessed,” he
said adding that that process, which included the national economic dialogue
was, however, not completed for broader discussion by social and political
stakeholders,” he added.
As a means of ensuring that the process gained consensus on aspects of the
strategies, the present commission from onset made efforts at getting
representation from all political parties with representation in Parliament,
including the New Patriotic Party (NPP), Mr. Obeng stated.
He said even though before the NPP nominee could take his seat on the
Commission certain developments happened and he declined, all parties are
still consulted on policy issues.
Asked whether the NDPC had been adequately funded or not to play its role,
Mr. Obeng said “funding to the commission, historically, has been a
challenge,” but was hopeful that within the context of the constitutional
review process, resourcing the NDPC to deliver on its constitutional mandate
may receive urgent attention.
“Perhaps some misperception about the mandate and the role of the NDPC in
national development management on sustainable basis may have contributed to
the under-sourcing since 1992,” he explained.
[This article was originally published in The Business Analyst of Wednesday,
June 20th – Tuesday, June 26th, 2012]