The National Development Planning Commission is trying hard to work the Ghanaian public up to a new Ghana national development plan it believes will transform Ghana into an advanced nation, economically and socially. But not everyone is excited,(like unyielding partners to their lovers’ amorous advances.
Still, a determined NDPC is positive a long term development plan must work this time, as it launched the planning process August 4 with a flamboyant event at the Accra International Conference Centre. The new Ghana national development plan will become operational 2018 and last till 2057, the centenary of Ghana as an independent nation: that’s if it’s not discarded along the way just as its recent predecessor Vision 2020 was.
The Ghana Vision 2020 was a 25-year long development plan for 1996 to 2020. It was supposed to transform Ghana into a middle income country, the way some countries of South East Asia did. Malaysia became a ubiquitous, gleaming example and aspiration for Ghana. I was a young student at the polytechnic at the time, and it was the latest thing for Government communicators of the era to punctuate every statement they made with Malaysia.
Failure of Ghana Vision 2020
Notwithstanding, the buzz created about that plan, Ghana significantly missed the first medium term economic performance targets under the Vision 2020 programme. In the year 2000, inflation rose from 13.8% up to 40.5%, instead of the target 7%; the cedi depreciated by 49.8% instead of a 6% target; balance of payments which recorded surpluses of US$24.9 million and US$99.4 million for 1997 and 1998 respectively quickly plummeted to a deficit of US$93.4 million and further deteriorated to US$116.8 million in 2000.
All that happened in the few years preceding NDC’s loss to NPP in the 2000 presidential election. A good section of the Ghanaians populace has not forgotten their hardship under that difficult economic climate. It’s not surprising the NDC party lost to power to the NPP then.
Ghana under the new NPP government suspended the Vision 2020 plan for HIPC in 2002. Vision 2020 was replaced with Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy in 2003 and the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategies. The two consecutive medium term programmes, GPRS I and GPRS II, have run their full courses. They were followed by Ghana Shared Growth Agenda I and II in 2010 and 2014 respectively.
New Drivers of Transformation
Today the new development programme being started will have as drivers of transformation, human capital formation, land reforms, and public sector modernisation. Others are infrastructure development, science, tech and innovation, and attitudinal change.
Launching the new development plan process, at the Accra International Conference Centre, President John Mahama called on every Ghanaian, especially the youth, to participate actively in the discussions and consultations. As usual, the president has charged all Ghanaians to avoid cynicism, self doubt and “pull-him-down syndrome”, so that together, we can build a prosperous nation.
I am certain the president’s call is right on point. Right here on my blog, I’m going to be raising issues which I care about and are relevant to the process. I trust those views will get to the relevant decision influencers. I know they read, because my consumer research says so. Many people read them everyday; some just enjoy them; some find very relevant information here; some cite them in their own works, and others simply plagiarise, plainly. Anyhow, my views will be noted. Okay, enough of this.
Scepticism and Cynicism
Likewise, I’m certain it’s not easy to for people who are sceptical or cynical to avoid being so when actions and incidents that nurture their skepticism and cynicism manifest right there before there senses, in and without the media (traditional, new, or social). There are may be quite valid reasons feeding scepticism and cynicism. Time and again government sets targets and misses them unrepentantly.
Also, the scepticism and cynicism are fed by nouveau riche attitudes some appointees of government, persons close to power, and some in other public service institutions—while social services such as the national health insurance scheme and the school feeding programme are performing badly; while industry and agriculture are declining; while unemployment is rife, and when housing deficit is close to two million houses for the country’s 25 million people.
As I write this post, here lies on my writing desk a tablet with pdf copies of presentations and the president’s speech from the launch. NDPC executive director’s presentation is titled “Black Rising Star” and it opens with a lofty quote from J. H. Mensah on the essence of a national development plan. It is taken from the foreword to Ghana’s 1963 seven-year development plan launched under President Kwame Nkrumah’s government: “…the real value of a plan is to give the nation a sense of direction and institute a system of purposive discipline”.
There it is, I suppose, the system of purposive discipline. It drove the nation to win independence from colonial rule. Thereafter, the people lost it and overthrew their government. Today, the nation is discussing a Ghana national development plan and how that will be made binding on any government irrespective of political ideology, creed or mantra.
Already there’s news of disagreements for the long-term development plan idea from some leading political quarters. Ghanaweb reports that the NPP’s presidential candidate for 2016 Nana Akufo-Addo is opposed to long-term development planning. It quotes Dr. Steve Manteaw, Media and Campaign Director for the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) saying, “His view is that a long-term development plan for Ghana will return us to the command type of socialist economic planning and he thinks that people should be free to provide whatever manifesto they want to be guided by and carry it through”. The position of the influential political leader as reported has very significant implications for development plan continuity.
But, NDPC executive secretary, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, provides basis for the new national development plan with: Article 87(2) of the 1992 Constitution, Act 479, which establishes the NDPC, the Petroleum Revenue Management Act (Act 815), and popular demand from the Ghanaian citizenry.
Yes, there is very firm basis for the new national development plan. I have absolute trust in the competence of the team of experts at the NDPC who are managing the process, that they will give Ghana a great plan. They deserve every support. But all their effort and plan may enjoy tenure similar to its predecessor, Vision 2020, unless government leads with a new and better attitude.
An Ewe adage says: one can tell the brush which will burn, by the look of the touch which will set it alight. I hope the antithesis of this adage holds some lesson for all Ghanaians. A good plan requires equally good attitude and commitment to succeed. And government must display that change with a new commitment to the programme. From there the leaders should infuse the Ghanaian culture with the new attitudinal change. And the new attitudes might just win sceptics and cynics over. That way we might get to promised Ghanaian paradise—just the way new positions or styles might bring un-yielding lovers to turn around.