Notwithstanding these low points, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) is leaving no stone unturned to get the country back on its feet and is preparing a plan to guide the government to lead in setting broad (indicative) goals, targets and indicators for national development, but the implementation of these (including needed investments) will be the responsibility of the state, the private sector and civil society. It will not be a centralised plan where the state will be responsible for everything, because the plan will be very flexible over time.
Public and technical consultations
After broad public and technical consultations, the NDPC has begun the actual writing of a long-term development plan, which is a vision document that will guide the country for the next 40 years.
The vision for the country’s development is based on the 1992 Constitution and the aspirations of Ghanaians as expressed during nationwide consultations by the NDPC from 2015 to 2016.
On the completion of the writing of the plan, its broad acceptance and implementation is also expected to guide the formulation and implementation of the long-term national development plan that will run from 2018 to 2057.
Sharing aspects of the National Development Plan (NDP), the Director-General of NDPC, Dr Nii Moi Thompson, disclosed that the plan, when approved by Parliament and incorporated into the Constitution, will be binding on successive governments.
Dr Thompson stated its ultimate objective as facilitating the country’s transition from low to high income by serving both as a framework for the continuity required to formulate and implement development policies over a long period and as a mechanism for facilitating the change in government occasioned by general elections every four years.
By virtue of its 40-year duration, Dr Thompson said the framework of the plan would actually serve as the basis for 10 medium-term plans of four years each, alongside 10 general elections between 2020 and 2056.
Economic miracle of 21st century
“We want to become the economic miracle of the 21st century through the implementation of the plan,” Dr Thompson told the Daily Graphic.
According to him, the pursuit of the vision will be guided by the building of an industrialised, inclusive and resilient economy, creation of an equitable, healthy and disciplined society, building safe, well-planned and sustainable communities as well as effective, efficient and dynamic institutions, and strengthening Ghana’s role in international affairs.
Specifically, by 2057, when Ghana celebrates its 100th independence anniversary, Dr Thompson envisaged that Ghana should be ranked among high-income countries of the world, with an industrialised, diversified and export-oriented economy that is resilient and driven by Ghanaian entrepreneurship and characterised by high-value services; a dynamic and globally competitive manufacturing sector, as well as an efficient agricultural sector capable of feeding the nation and exporting to global markets.
As part of the Long-term National Development Plan (LTNDP) is a proposal of a National Railway Network that will go through every regional capital and is also linked to major food growing areas to reduce transport cost and by extension prices of food and other commodities. This will also serve as a major creator of jobs and decent work. Hosting of a future FIFA World Cup is also considered a key part of the long-term infrastructure development for the country.
Party manifesto vs Plan
As to whether there will still be the need for political parties to have manifestos, Dr Thompson explained that the development plan is “a pretty flexible vision document” which is not going to deprive political parties of their wish to implement their own manifestos.
According to Dr Thompson, what the commission is preparing is a framework to guide successive governments in the preparation of their medium and short-term plans.
Each medium-term plan, he explained, would be prepared by successive governments based on their party manifestos.
Since no political party could promise anything beyond eight years and it would take more than eight years to implement fully political parties’ manifestos, the broad development national framework or plan would make it easier by creating a level playing field for all political parties, whether in power or not, in the preparation of their manifestos around a common national development vision for the transformation of the Ghanaian economy and society in a single generation.
It would also provide the public with a transparent basis for measuring the performance of every government, he added.
The plan, Dr Thompson said, therefore provides the continuity we need for long-term national development and the flexibility of governmental change through elections.
Accordingly, Dr Thompson said: “It will force political party manifestos to take a long-term view of national development, beyond the electoral cycle, without losing their relevance or importance.”
He asked Ghanaians to believe in the plan and not to be sceptical.
He said if the nation pursued the Long-Term National Development Plan (LTNDP), it would help resolve constitutional bottlenecks and the problem of governmenta abandoning the programmes of their predecessors.
"We want to create opportunities for all Ghanaians in Ghana. We cannot give up on ourselves," he stated.
He said the plan would also offer an exit strategy to wean Ghana off foreign aid and allow it to finance its own development.
“If we have a long-term plan, each government will be encouraged, compelled or forced to continue with the cumulative plan. It is development competition with best of intention for everyone,” he stated.
Commit to plan
He said it was time the whole country supported a long-term view of development because short and medium-term plans could not resolve structural problems that had taken decades to build up.
He called on Ghanaians to commit to the plan, saying that if our minds could conceive the plan and our hearts believed in it, then we could achieve the goals of the plan to become an economic miracle in the 21st Century.
Already, he said, delegations from other countries were in the country to study what the NDPC was doing for Ghana.
Dr Thompson mentioned other countries that were implementing long-term plans, citing the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) whose economic protections run into 2060, and South Korea whose vision is up to 2040.
He said it was time the country stopped taking ad hoc measures to address its development needs by ensuring that there was a plan to guide development.
“We need strategic long-term development objectives and the public must understand what is also at stake,” he stated.
He said money should be the least of Ghana’s worries and identified the biggest problem to be self-doubt among the people.
He said if Ghanaians could do away with self-doubt, the need for money would become secondary.
He, however, expressed optimism in Ghana’s future and said: “We can do better because we are sitting on massive potential.”
He said the LTNDP would reset the development button and help prove to the world, as Kwame Nkrumah said, that we are capable of managing our own affairs.