Govt Statistician calls for national criteria to assess public policies

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician
Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, Government Statistician

The Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, has called for the development of a national criteria for assessing the effectiveness of public policies.

He said the national criteria should be able to subject public policies to rigorous policy conceptualisation processes and an assessment of their outcomes and impact.

Speaking at a public lecture at the Central University last Wednesday in Accra, he said this would help in strengthening policy capacity and practice in the country.

He said it would also help in the integration of policy science into academic programmes and establishment of an independent National Data-Policy Institute.

Prof. Annim, who is also a Professor of Economics at the University of Cape Coast, also shared his reflections on Ghana's economic development experience, highlighting the lack of a macroeconomic toolbox for assessing performance of the economy.

He also highlighted the weaknesses in policies achieving long term outcomes, contradictions in Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, and other key macroeconomic variables as major challenges in the economy.

Link between academia and policy makers

Prof. Annim said a decision he made post PhD studies was to make an attempt to get closer to the policy makers, try and understand their world and on the basis of that make an attempt to bridge that gap between academia and policy makers.

He said this reason became even more compelling after the 2021 Population and Housing Census when the Ghana Statistical Service went round releasing the results.

“The question that always came to mind was to what extent would ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), metropolitan, municipals and district assemblies(MMDAs) revise their strategy documents based on the census results that were coming up,” he stated.

Developing conceptual frameworks

He also stressed the need to develop a conceptual framework when conducting research.

He said what was missing in the country was the extent to which these outputs and outcomes could be tracked over time.

“From the university point of view, how do we track the measurement of the teaching of conceptual frameworks and from the practice point of view, how are policy makers utilising this? It is about time that we begin to think about refocusing, redirecting our attention away from the proclivity of policy making, either standalone policy making or policy making that is guided not adequately by data.

“I commend different governments on their propensity to make a number of policies but it is about time that we redirect this attention away from the propensity of making policies. I am not saying we should stop making policies, but let us begin to think about assessing their impact,” he stated.

“We have changed education policies quite a lot in the country and these policies have resulted in increases in enrolment but the question I keep asking is whether it has resulted in an improved comprehension, relative to what we had two decades ago,” he added

Implementation of E-levy

Commenting on the implementation of the E-levy which is expected to start on May 1, he urged the government to take a cue from how Value Added Tax (VAT) was rolled out years back to help guide its implementation.

He said although the E-Levy had the potential to improve the country’s tax to GDP ratio, this would not be realised if it’s not strategically implemented.

“In principle, we need to increase our tax to GDP ratio. Between 2008 and 2020, our tax to GDP ratio has reduced by 13 per cent. So if we start with E-Levy, we will surely see a spike in our tax to GDP ratio.

“With the E-Levy in the picture, it is important for us to look at VAT and how it has been managed in terms of buoyancy, efforts, capacity, and productivity to help us better tackle issues around E-Levy,” he stated.


Public lecture

The Public Lecture, which was held on the theme: ‘Conceptualisation of National Policies: Issues of Capacity and Practice” is the first in a three-part series that will include an inaugural lecture at the University of Cape Coast in June.

The lecture was premised on answering three key questions based on macro-economic trends and the current state of the Ghanaian economy.

The key questions were on whether policies have impacted Ghana’s current social, demographic, and economic status; whether policymakers articulate the cost associated with each of their interventions; and whether Ghana had a criteria for debating national policies.