The lecture was organised by the Centre for Social Democracy, Ghana in collaboration with the NDPC and Fredrich Ebert Stiftung (FES), a German political foundation.
Problem of implementation
Dr Thompson emphasised that the problem in the country was not an issue of planning but that of implementation and identified some of the causes as the arbitrary change of policy priority and focus during planned implementation.
“Frequent and unpredictable dissolution, formation and combination of ministries sometimes require months, if not years, for realignment,” he said.
In addition, Dr Thompson said another problem of political and administrative leadership was the transfer of technocrats, including planners, across districts as a stop-gap measure to addressing the shortage of skills.
He indicated that the constitutional provision that mandated every new President to, within two years, prepare a four-year programme of economic and social policy often had the tendency to force every new president to create his own programme and abandon what had existed before.
Touching on development at the local level, Dr Thompson said research had indicated that district chief executives who had the ambition of becoming Members of Parliament often started massive projects that could not be completed.
“The next DCE who comes to power with similar design for parliament, ignores the predecessor’s projects and embarks on new ones for their own parliamentary campaign,” he said.
He added that the cumulative effects were ‘the carcasses’ of many projects scattered around the country. Citing a researcher of the London School of Economics, who conducted the research with the assistance of the NDPC, he said as many as 35 per cent of the projects in the districts would never be completed, “because of this wasteful approach.”
Dr Thompson also identified the late release of funds for the ministries, departments and agencies as another factor that affected the effective implementation of plans and gave the assurance that the NDPC had realised that and was working on it.
A Senior Lecturer and Head of the Political Science Department of the University of Ghana, Dr Bossman Asare, suggested that the NDPC should demonstrate its commitment to ensure that the government had the capacity to implement plans.
He also suggested that Parliament should pass a law to compel all governments to embrace long-term plans.
The Managing Editor of the Weekly Insight, Mr Kwesi Pratt, said the 40-year plan proposed by the NPDC was not the panacea for all the country’s problems.
He said the point was whether the plan would address the needs and aspirations of the ordinary Ghanaian. He disagreed with the suggestion that a law be enacted to ensure compliance, describing it as stifling a constitutionally guaranteed freedom of expression.
Need for discipline
The Resident Director of FES, Mr Fritz Kopsieker, was happy that consultations were being made and called for discipline to ensure that plans were implemented.
The convenor of the lecture, Mr Prosper Hoetu, said CSD-Ghana supported the development and implementation of a long-term national development plan partly because,
“we believe that if the sovereignty of Ghana resides in the people of Ghana in whose interest and for whose welfare the powers of government are to be exercised, then the development of a long-term plan puts the power in the hands of the citizens.”