19th June 2024

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By Kwame Ampaben-Kyereme

An article authored by Samuel Okudzeto Ablakwa, MP for North Tongu, titled “Vision 2020 – Reflections on why Ghana still needs long-term development plans”, stimulates brainstorming on national development planning in Ghana.

I wish to make my comments and contributions on the subject-matter of national development planning, not necessarily as a rejoinder to it, for in planning there is nothing like a bad idea.

I totally agree with the writer that it is not the best to develop our country with party manifestos. That will be living with the whims and caprices of ruling parties. Resilient and sustainable development will elude us with that kind of approach. There is no option to a development plan carved out for specific planning periods with true participatory approaches. It must, however, be noted that the exigencies of the fast changes of development in this new epoch do not favour long-term national development plans, of say 40 years.

The desirable

A plan of say 10 to 15 years, with annual and medium-term rolling plans, are more desirable. The ministry responsible for local government is already on course with such rolling plans. With rapid changes, as exemplified by the unforeseeable stupendous improvements in information communication technology (ICT) and the unstable and unfair world economic order, there is no need for long-term planning, which will be outdated before they are launched.

Ghana could not have overtaken Singapore in development in 2020, as the writer alluded to. The status of Singapore, 25 years ago, would have made it a wishful thinking for Ghana to achieve such a feat. One should be cautious about such a comparison, despite our patriotism. Note that Singapore is a city-state and its administrative style and politico-socio-economic nature are different from Ghana.

Furthermore, achieving properly planned and managed human settlements is a key factor in achieving development. Considering the human settlement development situation in Ghana, it would have been too ambitious under the Vision 2020 for Ghana to overtake Singapore by 2020.

Development plan

President Nkrumah did well with the fast post-independent development of Ghana. The Seven-year Development Plan, prepared with J H Mensah, as then his economic giant, was from October 1963 to September 30 1970. Nkrumah was committed to its implementation, but the plan ended abruptly in February 1966, so what long-term development plan was the writer claiming Nkrumah used for development?

Semantics may not be a big issue now, but the writer seems to equate planning visions like the Vision 2020, United Nation’s (UN’s), Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Agenda 2030 and African Union’s (AU’s) Agenda 2063 as development plans. Planning vision is the picture or clear image, broad-based in scope, of a development success a nation, an organisation or even an individual, for example, wants to achieve.

The visions he mentioned are technically and operationally not development plans in themselves. The practical ways, actions or activities to effect changes and achieve the short-term goals while keeping sight of the long-term vision is by a process called planning, resulting in a product called a development plan.

Ghana beyond Aid

In April 2018, President Akufo Addo’s government’s Seven-year Development Plan was accepted by the Parliament to be the first political administration in the Fourth Republic to meet the requirement of Article 365 (5) of the 1979 Constitution, which directs governments to prepare such a plan within two years in office. The plan is supposed to be part of the practical ways to achieve the UN’s SDGs (Agenda 2030) and the AU’s Agenda 2063.

However, the participatory manner the plan was prepared and how far its implementation has been on course are yet to be ascertained. It is no new religion that the nation should meet the many basic pre-conditions and conditions for a resilient and sustainable national development plan, even if prepared in a participatory manner.

Local funds need to be generated to finance our national budgets instead of relying mainly on external funding or development partners. Local resources – human and material – should be enhanced, used intensively and judiciously.

Effective monitoring and apolitical non-lip service commitment in implementing laws and delivery of justice with zero tolerance for corruption are essential. If the many government policies will dovetail to achieve the Ghana beyond Aid Policy, that would be excellent.

National Development Plan, yes, a realistic participatory plan with strong commitment during implementation, but not blue print of wishful thinking prepared only to meet some administrative and political requirements and which will be still born or at best outdated at birth.



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