THE READERS’ HUB warmly welcomes you to its weekly most insightful, interactive and educative Social Media Monk session. Tonight, we are pleased to bring to you one of our ardent readers; Mr. Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese who shall take us into the lecture room on a thematic concern of national relevance.
He is a political and social activist, a voluble devotee of books a dexterous and prolific writer, whose writings on both political and social issues have won the admiration of many, yet a source of worry and a nightmare for others, especially those entrusted with the authority and or management of our resources.
Indeed, while some people regard his stance on both social and political issues as arrogance and a self-serving pomposity others also reasoned otherwise and regard him as a non-conformist, independent minded and forthright in thought for the good of his community and the nation as a whole.
As held supra, tonight, the thematic concern of our discourse is dubbed: The NDPC and political parties’ manifestos in Ghana: A search for Ghana’s development guide
We shall find out from our guest tonight whether the NDPC has a long term strategic National Development Plan for Ghana, If yes, what does it entail and why is it not being implemented and if no, why not.
We shall also find out whether it is tenable to assert that the NDPC has been politicized and subjected to partisan interferences and manipulations and therefore lacks the autonomy it requires to function more efficiently and effectively to execute its mandate meticulously.
Ladies and gentlemen, sit still as our guest takes us through these nagging questions among several others.
Please help me welcome our guest for tonight. Mr. Issifu Seidu Kudus Gbeadese
Bassing: Sir, you are most welcome to the Readers ‘Hub Social Media Monk tonight.
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Thank you my good brother, Kamal. I’m honored
Bassing: The Readers’ Hub is equally grateful for your time; and for a start, what is the full meaning of the abbreviation NDPC contained in our topic for discussion?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: NDPC=National Development Planning Commission
Bassing: So what is the primary mandate of the National Development Planing Commission, and is it executing its mandate as expected?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: To begin with, NDPC is a public institution established by an Act of Parliament—Act 1994, (Act 479). This was set up in tandem with articles 86 and 87 of the 1992 constitution of Ghana. The legislative architecture upon which the NDPC operates are;
- the NDPC Act, 1994 (Act 479) and
- the National Development Planning (system) Act, 1994 (Act 480).
There are other pieces of legislation that are relevant to the functioning of NDPC.Some of them include:
-Local Govt Act, 1993 (Act 462)
-Local Govt service Act, 2003 (Act 656)…among others
As per the act, the NDPC is charged among others to and for the purposes of this discussion, I will limit the functions to what is captured below:
- Advise the President on development planning policy and strategy
- Make proposals for the development of multi-year rolling plans and taking into consideration the resources and comparative advantage of the different districts in Ghana.
- make proposals to ensure even development of the districts of Ghana by the effective utilization of available resources.
Now as regards the question as to whether the commission is executing its mandate; I will say yes as per what it is required by law. But whether that is practical and enough to meet the development needs of Ghana is another question that begs for answers.
Bassing: Does the NDPC have a long term strategic National Development Plan for Ghana? If yes, what does it entail and why is it not being implemented and if no, why not?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Yes, there is a long term development plan for Ghana. We are now into 2 years of the proposed 40 year development plan as designed by NDPC. There is a 40 year development plan from 2018 to 2057.Since the inception of the 4th Republic, Ghana has crafted and somehow implemented about 5 other plans with the latest 40 year plan as the 6th.
Available records indicated that in 1996, the Vision 2020 was launched with the FIRST STEP (6 years plan) to begin with as a way of consolidating our gains. This wasn’t continued after the first 5 years elapsed.
In 2003, Ghana adopted the 3 years Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy, as preconditions to access the HIPC funds. After exhausting this, the Growth and Poverty Reduction Strategy-2006 to 2009 was crafted and adopted as the short term plan.
Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda 1 from 2010 to 2013 and Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda 2 from 2014 to 2017.
So the current 40 year plan continuous from 2018 as the GSGD 2 elapsed
All these were plans drawn by the NDPC to serve as development to successive government. However, as to whether we followed through every detail of this is yet another big question that might be answered in the course of the discussion. In effect, Ghana has a 40 year development plan….2018 to 2057.
Bassing: Of course, we will definitely want to know why. So tell us: Does the Constitution of Ghana or any Act of Parliament require that manifestoes of political parties must be consistent with the core strategies, goals and aspirations of any medium to long term strategic National Development Plan of the NDPC? If yes, what enforcement mechanisms are being pursued by the NPDC to ensure that political parties comply with such a legal obligation? If no, what do you recommend?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Before I answer this, let me attempt to give some insight to the 40 year plan. The NDPC in its opening of the 40 year development document passed a verdict that the development challenges of Ghana are hinged on structural difficulties hence, the adoption of a long term plan to ultimately solve the structural dislocations.
The plan is built on 5 blocks or pillars; these are building blocks upon which the plan derives its substance.
- National Human Capital Strategy
- Economic Growth strategy
- special development framework
- SDGs agenda 2063, other global development framework
- Social, economic, environmental and institutional policies and strategies.
Having provided the above details and as regards your question, I will say yes to some extent. Going forward, the 1992 constitution of Ghana is the supreme law of the land which circumscribes the sovereign will of the people.
That is why it is captured in the opening paragraph of the constitution that “….the constitution is the supreme law of Ghana and any other law found to be inconsistent with any provision of this constitution shall, to the extent of the inconsistency be void, Article 1(2).
So to this extent, once Chapter 6 of the same constitution (The Direct Principle of state policy) in Article 34 specifically directs all political parties and govt agencies to craft its policies and implement according to the constitution, no party can do otherwise.
In a related development, one other specific legislation that requires political parties manifesto to be consistent with the core goals of the state is the Petroleum Revenue Management Act, 2011 (Act 815), as amended in 2015.
This Act regulates the spending of our oil revenues. Part of the act stipulates that no government can borrow against the petroleum reserves. So no party can promise or put in its manifesto that it will borrow money against the petroleum reserves.
Again, the ratio of expenditure proposals are clearly spelt out in the act, such that no government has discretion over the expenditure lines and no political party can make promises outside of the planned expenditure lines.
For the ratios—70% of the benchmarked revenue must be put into the Annual Budget Funding Amount (ABFA) 30% of the remaining 30% is put into the heritage fund and the remaining 70% of the 30% is put into the stabilization fund. Ghana has used over $200m from the stabilization fund since the coming of Covid.
Indeed, there is some legislation to guide manifestos of political parties, but not in all areas.
Bassing: So based on your submissions thus far, is it tenable to assert that the NDPC has been politicized and subjected to partisan interferences and manipulations and therefore lacks the autonomy it requires to function more efficiently and effectively to execute its mandate meticulously?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Wow! Let me attempt this question from 4 simple angles;
- the law that establishes the NDPC
- the composition of the commission
- Tenure of Office of members
- The funding to the commission.
Maybe by the time I am done, we will come to terms with the facts and realities.
- The Act 1994 (Act 479)—the inception preposition of the act stipulates that, after its establishment, the commission shall be responsible to the President. This comes after the President appoints almost all the members that constitute the commission.
- The composition of members of the commission—the Chairman is appointed by the President. The Finance minister is a member. The BoG Governor is a Member. The government statistician is a member the Director General is appointed by the President. One representative from all existing RCCs .the President can also appoint any such member as he/she deem necessary.
- Tenure of office— aside the ex-officio members, all the others shall always have their tenure coterminous with the tenure of office of the appointing authorities. NB: the President can dismiss any of these members without explanation but upon consultation with the council of state.
- Funding—the Commission has two sources of funding; direct from govt (annual budgets) and donor support which shall be subject to the approval by the minister of finance.
Judging from the above 4 scenarios, one will be left with no option than to conclude that the NDPC is susceptible to manipulation, political abuse and interferences
Bassing: Taking it a step further, let’s look at this practical scenario: the two main political parties, NDC and NPP, have embarked on a promising spree of free things for Ghanaians in the 2020 elections. In addition to the free SHS, there are new promises: free basic healthcare, duty-free importations of commercial vehicles, free tertiary technical and vocational education, among others. Does NDPC have powers to sanction these egalitarian promises and do you think such promises are consistent with the policy aspirations of any medium-term or long-term development plan of the NDPC?
Issifu Kudus: The NDPC has no any constitutional powers to sanction any political party for making juicy and relatively impractical promises. Let me attempt an explanation. Let’s be reminded in the first place that there are always pay offs in every decision governments or even individuals make. The pay offs are the best alternatives forgone. NB: there is cost element attached to every freebie governments delivered. The cost will still be borne by us directly or indirectly through taxation. The NDPC as I said has no such powers but even if they do, the parties can argue their cases in one way or another.
See these scenarios:
-The NDPC, draws/design framework with broader scopes or objectives, based on which the other agencies or institutions like political parties can draw and narrow their strategies into their manifestos. Except that it is not done in Ghana most times.one scenario the parties might use to argue their cases out could be this;
-the SDGs 3 aspires to ensure health and wellbeing of all. This is a broader objective on health.
-The AU agenda 2063 has a blue print and a master plan for transforming Africa into a global power house of the future. In this agenda, the first aspiration is to promote health and nutrition.
-The 40 year plan from 2018 to 2057 of Ghana has a broader scope of health delivery under goal 2–to create an equitable, healthy and disciplined society.
So the NDC for instance promises Free Primary Health care as a compliment to the NHIS which is another leg of making health accessible to the people. This promise is specific and narrowed in scope from the broader goals of the UN through the SDGs, the AU and the 40 year development plan ultimately.
So with this, the parties can argue that their promises are specific goals derived from the broader objectives of the NDPC. This is my own creation anyway!
Bassing: Would you concur with me on the assertion that the reckless abandonment of developmental projects of previous governments by incumbent governments is partly or wholly blamable on the lack of a binding national development plan on all political parties?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Well, this can be looked at in two ways
The people who are at the receiving end of policy outcomes are left to politicians and political parties to engage, so, in the end, the politician takes advantage of his proximity to do things his own way. The NDPC doesn’t go to promise the people, it is the politician. So, the people see them as next to God in terms of solving their problems. So the politician takes the opportunity to promise the people on the spur of the moment. To get his or her mandate and consolidate his power, he will need to prove a point. The people get to do a postmortem assessment based on what was promised and not what should be done.
So this is it; a politician goes to the people and in the course of the engagement, the people out of whatever requested for a mosque or a church to be built for them or even a Chief palace. To them, that is the most pressing need. The politician wins ultimately, and he goes to provide some bags of cement, roofing sheets and some money for the building of the mosque/church or chief palace.
Alternatively, NDPC did its survey and came out that the need of the people is a borehole /school/clinic. Another politician uses this report to provide the borehole. Which one of the two will have fulfilled his promise and will most likely get a renewal of his mandate?
So each of these parties (NDC and NPP) will do everything within their means to make their own names, point to their deliverables and use same to seek a re-election. Most often, the people themselves will set the stage for us the politicians to exploit their ignorance. They will ask what you have done on your own and not what you have continued. That is partly why we have that problem. Everyone wants to come with his own score sheet. With this, I can’t wholly blame the NDPC when they don’t have the legal backing to sanction any political party for abandoning projects. Until such a time when we all accept to set a legal regime for the NDPC to bite, this phenomena will live with us for a very long time
Bassing: How can NDPC successfully establish a long-term national development plan that would be respected by electorates and all political parties in Ghana to the extent that there is a seeming national consensus among Ghanaian electorates to vote against any political party, during presidential and parliamentary elections, whose manifesto is antithetical to or inconsistent with core objectives and principles of the long-term plan?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Like I indicated earlier, there is already a 40 year development plan. Over the period, we have had short and medium term plans. But the NDPC was commissioned to design a long term plan which will overlap regimes, hence the adoption of the 40 year plan. But to the extent that the law that establishes the NDPC is still in its current form and taste, the NDPC shall remain yet another controlled handle of any ruling party. To the extent that the people can’t hold the NDPC for their development needs but the political parties, this sense is dead on arrival.
Ghana needs to get its politics right, if not all our efforts will be in vain. The success stories of Malaysia, Singapore and others didn’t get it right until they got their politics right. No nation has ever developed on the altar of a politically polarized system like ours.
Most often, it matters not the kind of political system we have but the kind of politics we practice. Even in a military regime, Acheampong has some things right. Rwanda is getting right because she got her politics right. Russia is not practicing the complete form of democracy we want in Ghana, but Russia is an economic power. Reading from Lee Kuan Yew, the success story of Singapore was hinged on its good politics, planning and vision.
The NDPC is just another white elephant for employment opportunities for ruling parties; the planning unit of the MoF does virtually everything the NDPC has to do.
Manifestos run parallel to deliverables of development plans, because political parties are stronger than the state. People owe allegiance to their parties than the state. How then can you have an NDPC which can direct the President what to do? Mind you, the act that sets up the NDPC says it can only ADVISE the President and not compel him/her. It is just like the council of state.
So not until we set a new law which will clothe the NDPC with the powers to prosecute any party in power which deviates from the plan, then we have many more years to wander in the wilderness.
To close this, I will say, our presidents are too powerful and some of the powers need to be reduced in order to get an effective institutional guarantee for effective running of the system.
We can do it only when we are ready to sacrifice our immediate satisfaction for a long term success.
Bassing: Interesting perspective. Before I forward questions from our Readers for you to answer, let’s look at this scenario: What do you think the answer would be if you ask two politically and developmentally conscious Ghanaians the question: _What is Ghana’s strategic development plan? I think the answers of the two respondents are likely to be “the Big Push” and “Ghana Beyond Aid” Based on your research, what answers do you think are likely to be offered, and what are implications of any conflicting answers for the development of Ghana?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: you have answered it already sir. The ultimate answer will be the slogans as captured in your question.
The reason is simple; the people are bombarded with these slogans and those are what drove their voting senses. The people will vote for you as long as you can push them to think along your slogans.
To them, the slogans are the solutions to their immediate needs and so they are impatient to wait for the next 40 years before they will get that better education or health delivery system.
This one is laughable but let me share it sir…the Ghanaian politician’s thinking is limited to the next election and how to use power for the next four years, the same way the voter’s thinking is limited to his own shadow and his interest is his next meal. “THE FUTURE WILL ALWAYS TAKE CARE OF ITSELF”.
Don’t ever make a mistake and give birth to your baby and leave him to his step mum to breastfeed while you go to look for food for his next 10 years survival, that theory won’t work in Ghana. Before you come with the next question sir…let me ask this rhetorical question sir.How many of us (the elite) knew of the existence of a 40 year plan? So think about that 45 years old peasant who has no access to the internet, radio or TV.
Question from a reader
Brilliant submission by your esteemed guest, Sir. Will he propose a multiparty, multidisciplinary and merit-based composition of the NDPC or legal empowerment of the commission, as a method of increasing its effectiveness? Dr. S. A. Asasu
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Thank you Dr…I will propose both. A multiparty, multidisciplinary and merit-based composition of the NDPC without a relative legal backing to bite any deviants will most likely to be worse than the current NDPC.
The current form of NDPC has almost the same traits as you propose (multidisciplinary and to some extent merit-based). The act requires that the appointment of any person or group of persons should be based on expertise in the field of planning and development.
As slippery as the politician will always be, a well composed NDPC without a legal backing to prosecute, some autonomy, independence, will always create another outlet to make the commission compromise its stance. It will just be like the wash my back make I wash yours kind of relationship as usual.
So I will go for both. And to even add that the NDPC can design and sell its own services to raise funds for their activities, so that their hands will not always be in the mouth of the contemporary politician.
Bassing: How do see the future of Ghana from now, if Ghana fails to schematize a robust and strategic medium-term and long-term development plans within this decade, to guide the design of the political party manifestoes and the economic and social development of Ghana, for that matter?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Disaster, suicide, loop-sided/uneven development and ultimately the collapse of the system. I am not a naysayer, but the system may just crush if we allow so many rubbish in there, it may just choke the delivery unit and get the entire system crushed.
How long can we continue to be fed with disjointed programs and policies from the political class? At one point, we are asked to do 4 years of SHS; another party comes and reverses it to 3 years because their manifesto says so. At one time, our health policy is leaning on the left leg, before we will get used to it, we are on the right leg again.
Like I indicated earlier, Ghana only goes into wishing without dreaming of becoming like the Asian Tigers.
The Asian Tigers got there through well-coordinated plans. They didn’t get there within the whims of their political party executives.
The branch chairman of a political party in Ghana today can direct what happens in the electoral area than the elected assembly man. Isn’t it laughable?
Until we are all ready to sacrifice today for the future, we will get to the end and there will be nothing positive about our journey. Again, the Asian Tigers got there because they sacrificed; they sustained their gains; they got their politics right; they have citizens who owe allegiance to the state and not to their political parties, religious grouping and ethnic groups. This is how nations are built.
Bassing: So sir, from where you sit and based on your research, which would you propose as a guide towards Ghana’s development agenda and why: Political party’s manifestoes or the NDPC?
Mr. Issifu Kudus: It’s a direct answer…I will go for Long term Development plan with the NDPC leading the charge. Let’s remember that strong institutions make up the soft issues of development and are very critical not only for delivering the best outcomes but more importantly, sustaining those outcomes beyond political regimes.
I will say this again, political parties are becoming too powerful than the power of the state. Even some political actors are becoming too powerful than state institutions. We need a complete overhaul of the NDPC, and for it to give us development direction going into the future.
It must design the framework, and with the legal backing, whip political parties to adopt and sift their programs, policies and strategies from their framework. The NDPC should equally, after it’s empowered, set standards for the political parties within the available resources, opportunities, etc.
Mind you, long term plan are mostly frameworks within which short and medium terms plans are drawn. Let our budgets make reference to development plans and not political party slogans and manifesto promises. After all, when you give all politicians $100m to be expended on one specifics item, all of them will have different ways of expending it. So give them the guide and let them tell us how they will do it to get the same outcome.
Bassing: It is becoming more interesting and revealing; yet we have to allow our guest to rest for the day. The Readers’ Hub expresses its most profound gratitude to you for finding time out of your busy schedule to interact and share with us your deep seated knowledge on this very important topic. It was an awesome discussion and we are most grateful. May the good Lord shower his grace upon you in all your life endeavors? Thank you Sir!
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Thank you sir and thank you to all members on this platform. Preparing to deliver this is was really interesting. It will make you to read your old notes and read even more. I would want another opportunity in the not too distant future. I’m honored.
Bassing: We will definitely call on you Sir!
Mr. Issifu Kudus: Always ready and at your service!
Bassing: Readers, we have come to the end of yet another interactive, insightful and intellectually intuitive segment of our Social Media Monk session. We are most grateful to all those who find time to interact and asked questions where necessary am convinced beyond any reasonable doubt that Readers have picked some useful information out of the interaction on the thematic concern held supra.Until we meet same time with another interactive segment of the Social Media Monk session next week, do have a fruitful weekend and a restful night.
NB: Please don’t forget to share after reading for others to also benefit.
Hub Editor: Bassing .A.M.A.Kamal.
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