Last Tuesday, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) presented a draft 40-Year National Development Plan, to President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo and announced their resignation from the Commission “en masse”, except the Director General who is reported in the media to be holding on “for a while”.
Article 87 of the Constitution, mandates the Commission is to specifically “advise the President on development planning policy and strategy” and, “at the request of the President or Parliament, or on its own initiative,” undertake situational analysis of the state of development and propose a way forward.
Forty -Year Plan
The fourth republican dispensation has witnessed three long term development ideas – “Vision 2020”, “Vision 2015” and the current “40-Year National Development Plan”. Of the three ideas, the current one, presented to the President yesterday, is the most important as the others could not be implemented and have obviously been overtaken by time, events and the current draft.
A key feature of the draft which is scheduled to see implementation beginning next year 2018, if the President so decides, is the fact that the processes that led to the cutting of the draft were inclusive, consultative and crosscutting – from national to district. In the course of the consultations, questions about the plan were answered. For instance, the essence of long term planning in a fast moving dynamic world came to the fore over and over again.
The Commission, in response to that question, has made it clear, that the “plan” is in fact a “framework” that provides for four 10-year implementation cycles. The current President is therefore at liberty to re-work his development agenda to be consistent with what has been proposed in the draft for the next 10 years. Should he fail to retain the Presidency at the next general elections, his successor would also be at liberty to continue and or review to conform to his or her own development vision.
While I do not intend to exaggerate the small progress we have made as a democracy, I must nevertheless acknowledge the efforts made by successive administrations towards the attainment of a developed nation status. But the reason why we have not seen corresponding development to the efforts so far, lies in the defects of our governance infrastructure. The governance arrangements in the 1992 constitution which we are operating today, is flawed is flawed in many ways. And I am tempted to conclude that, until aspects of the constitution are revised, the foundations for rapid economic development would continue to escape us.
Election of Metropolitan, Municipal and District Chief Executives (MMDCEs) would be a key success factor in the successful implementation of the 40-year plan in 10-year lots. With the election of MMDCEs development would simultaneously take place at the district level in response to specific needs, opportunities and threats.
The obnoxious one-size- fit-all policies translated in bulk procurement of goods and services by the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, for which monies are deducted at source from the District Assemblies Common Fund, would no longer operate as the MMDCs would be in charge of their own destinies. While the non-election of MMDCEs remains the biggest democratic deficit in our governance system, it has far reaching implications for economic growth at the basic units of development that collectively reflect in the national economic growth numbers.
Politics and Policy
Since the former Commissioners were neither removed from office nor compelled to resign by any known law, but decided to leave on their owned accord, to allow the President to reconstitute the Commission to conform with his own agenda for development, I feel compelled to advise the President to avoid packing the Commission with his party people. I am looking at a situation where very few people from the President’s party would be called to the Commission, to avoid the vacuum that the former members have created through their collective resignation. Had a few of them found reason to remain, we could have been assured of institutional memory at least.
The Last Uprising
…with William Dowokpor