National plan must drive our development agenda

The framers of the 1992 Constitution had good intentions in establishing the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).

That is why they devoted Articles 86 and 87 of the Constitution to the role, mandate and core functions of the NDPC as outlined in Act 479.

Among its core functions per Act 479 are to advise the President on development planning policy and strategy, make proposals for the development of multi-year rolling plans, taking into consideration the resource potential and comparative advantage of the different districts of Ghana; make proposals for the protection of the natural and physical environment with a view to ensuring that development strategies and programmes are in conformity with sound environmental principles; formulate comprehensive national development planning strategies and ensure that the strategies, including consequential policies and programmes, are effectively carried out.

It is also to prepare broad national development plans and keep them under constant review in the light of prevailing domestic and international economic, social and political conditions, and make for the revision of existing policies and programmes where necessary, as well as coordinate the decentralised national development planning system.

With such a beautiful mandate, one wonders why the country is still struggling to overcome its developmental challenges.

 The reason is not far-fetched as the problem can be traced to the issue of discontinuity of projects started by previous administrations.

Every new government comes with its development agenda hinged on the party’s manifesto.

But the Daily Graphic believes that it is important that political parties draw their manifestos based on the national development programme outlined by the NDPC.

 This will motivate the staff of the commission to better deliver on their mandate.

It is in this vein that we agree with the suggestion of the Speaker of Parliament, Alban Sumana Kingsford Bagbin, for political parties to work with stakeholders to build a national development vision that will actively steer the development of the country in the long term, when they win political power.

 (See October 16, 2023 issue of the Daily Graphic).

We believe that carefully structuring a national development plan, which takes into account all sectors, should pull all of us towards a direction of shared goals.

As stated early on, most national development plans that are instituted by sitting governments were mostly partisan and based on individual visions.

One would be shocked if we were to take stock of the plethora of uncompleted or abandoned projects even in the Fourth Republic. 

This is why a national development vision is critical to the country’s forward march and the reason political parties need to rethink the crafting of their election manifestos based on the national development agenda.

 We must learn to complement one another’s effort by working together in one direction.

Our political life should not be about each party or government outdoing the other.

We dare say that the attitude of abandoning projects started by other regimes has contributed to the huge debts hanging on the neck of the country, and all political parties are guilty of this attitude.

The Daily Graphic urges all stakeholders, including the political parties, the NDPC, National Commission for Civic Education and civil society organisations to begin to jaw-jaw on this important piece of advice by Mr Bagbin.

We also reason that the Act establishing the NDPC lacks the ability to commit political parties to follow the country’s development plan.

Therefore as a country, with the Cabinet and Parliament taking the lead, we must as a matter of urgency, amend Act 479 of the 1992 Constitution to make it unlawful for any party to implement programmes that are not captured in a national development plan.  

The country and consequently the people will be the eventual winners if we agree on such grounds.

Civil society, the media and development-focused think tanks must begin to mount pressure on the leadership of the country to ensure that we attain such a regime. 

Without that, we are afraid we would continue to postpone the development of the country and it would be difficult to match others in this modern period of significant development in the fields of science and technology, politics, warfare, discovery and globalisation.

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