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Planners want law to bind govts on dev’t plans

Aug. 25, 2016, 3:30 p.m.

Members of the Ghana Institutes of Planners (GIP) have called on Parliament to enact laws to legally bind successive governments to implement the country’s 40-year national development plan.

The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) is currently implementing a 40-year development plan that would put the country on a sound footing for a sustained development.

Development experts say the move is the surest way of turning the country’s future around.

But the GIP wants a law that binds the national development plan on all governments as the only way to guarantee its implementation to speed up the socio-economic development of the West Africa’s second largest economy.

President of GIP, Alfred Kwasi Opoku insisted that until the long-term development framework is made binding on successive governments, it will be extremely difficult for the country to implement.

 “After the preparation of the plan document, what we could do is that the agreed document could go to Parliament where a law will be crafted and put it on it and that this thing is a national document and accepted by all”, Mr Opoku stressed.

Therefore, this is going to ensure that whoever comes into power is going to follow it. The language should be in a regulatory form such that no government can bypass it, he maintained.

The call by the GIP is part of the campaigns initiative supported by the Business Advocacy Challenge Fund (BUSAC Fund) to speed up the growth of the private sector.

For instance, Mr Opoku noted that; “someone can take the government to court if the constitution is flouted because of the way it is couched. So, if this national development plan is made that way, so that somebody can say that this is our vision which we spent time and effort to build you (the government) cannot go beyond that if he does he can be taking to court”.

Again, once that plan is made every party must develop its manifesto out of the mother national development plan so that once your manifesto has come out of it then you even will not dare to go beyond that if you go beyond that since there are checks and balances and clauses in there, the citizens can take you to court that this is what we have agreed to do and you cannot do the other way.

“This is what the GIP is putting across, that it should be participatory and then it will also be binding and you cannot easily flout it”.

PEF supports call

The Chief Executive Officer of the Private Enterprise Federation (PEF), Nana Osei-Bonsu who agreed with the views expressed by the GIP Fellow and Vice President added that the private sector was that despite all the red herrings, if the country does not have a legal binding on the leadership all the documentations and the participation and the grassroot canvass and consultations would not going to add too much to it.

“What we are saying is that let’s look at a comprehensive plan that has a bind on the leadership who will make the decisions and he cannot deviate from it”.

Right to sanction

But the Director-General of the NDPC, Dr Nii Moi Thompson said Parliament would reserve the right of sanctioning political parties since they passed the law on the need for a long term national development plan.

“In terms of the issue of whether it is binding or not binding, Parliament passed a law Article 815 2011 which said there must be a long term national development plan approved by parliament.

“I will like to think that if parliament approves something, it is binding on all of us. If parliament passes a law, there are regulations as to how the law is to be implemented. So once parliament approves the plan, it will be their responsibility to prescribe sanctions”.

However, Nana Osei-Bonsu said: “We are talking about two things here the constitution and Parliament. Can Parliament enact laws that usurp the constitution, so I don’t think so? So, the Article 815 2011 allows certain things to be done, the President says am not bind by it and am going to follow it because the constitution allows me to do ABCD”.

So, what we are saying is that can we do a constitutional amendment to allow a binding requirement on the presidency or the executive that you cannot deviate from a consensus plan or framework”.

In the 1990s when the NDPC was set up, the country had returned from the era of structural adjustments and development planning was put back on the table with certain clarity of vision-5 years and so.