Assessing impact of policies necessary

BY: Daily Graphic
 Professor Samuel Kobina Annim - Government Statistician
Professor Samuel Kobina Annim - Government Statistician

The Government Statistician, Professor Samuel Kobina Annim, has proposed a comprehensive stocktaking and audit of all socio-economic policies implemented since the country gained Republican status to help guide the effective formulation of new policies and outcomes.

His suggestion was that the stocktaking should include the conduct of a thorough cost-benefit analysis to determine the relevance and impact of the policies.

Speaking at a public lecture at the Central University in Accra last week Wednesday, Prof. Annim said that 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 the establishment of an independent National Data-Policy Institute.

The Daily Graphic agrees with Prof. Annim, in the sense that over the years, successive governments have initiated policies and programmes to accelerate the country’s overall development, and we think the time has come to, as a nation, reflect on some of the policy outcomes to inform our developmental trajectory.

At a point in our nation-building endeavour, we need to pause and ask some critical questions.

Do we have the opportunity to measure policy outcomes? Do we have any database on the number of policies we have across the various public institutions? Which of those policies were informed by data, and do we have the right results?

As a nation, we have been very quick to initiative policies and programmes, without giving due attention to their continuity, assessment and impact to influence future policy interventions.

It is important that we develop nationally acceptable criteria in measuring the success of these policies and programmes, so that we will inform the formulation of future policies and programmes.

For instance, with the implementation of the Electronic Transaction Levy (E-Levy), it is important that we glean from the lessons on how far the country went with the implementation of the Value Added Tax in terms of its productivity to serve as a guide to how best to handle issues that may arise from the implementation of the E-Levy.

Remarkably, some private sector practices have made their way into the government set up over the past couple of decades, and these have largely been influential in determining the success of public policy and administration.

This transfer of private sector practices into government reflects the views of many academics and practitioners, who have argued that policymakers can improve efficiency in the public sector by applying similar metrics to those used in the private sector.

One such metric is productivity, which can be defined as “the value of outputs produced, divided by the volume of inputs used in producing them”. It is a typical preoccupation in the private sector and has increasingly emerged as a core objective for policymakers, with many pages written on it in an attempt to make the public sector more efficient by reducing costs.

Traditionally, policymakers focus on how to transform inputs — the resources that they are given — into the relevant outputs, and it is often assumed that high levels of productivity will inevitably result in good outcomes.

We need to strengthen policy capacity and practice, develop national criteria for assessing the effectiveness of policies and integrate policy science into academic programmes.

The key concerns are 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 has criteria for debating national policies.

On this note, we agree with Prof Annim’s suggestion that a non-partisan committee should be constituted by Parliament to audit the capacity and practice of conceptualising national policies in the country.

It should liaise with the Executive and academics to develop a criteria for assessing the effectiveness of policies and advise Parliament accordingly.

Again, the use of the criteria should be monitored, and outcomes published regularly, while the translation of research recommendations to policies should also be assessed based on the nationally accepted and known criteria.