Considering the all-encompassing importance of the existence of a binding long-term National Development Plan, we published an editorial in the June 25, 2012 edition of Public Agenda urging the government to accept the Constitution Review Commission's (CRC) recommendation on the matter. Given the same rationale, we are re-editorialising on the issue.
Unfortunately, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) government has, in a White Paper on the report of the CRC, rejected the recommendation of the CRC that a long-term National Development Plan should be incorporated in the expected reviewed constitution and made binding on successive governments.
In the White Paper, the government states: "While the Government accepts the recommendation for a comprehensive, long-term, strategic multi-year rolling National Development Plan, it does not agree with the Constitution Review Commission that: (a) the provision for the development of the National Development Plan should be entrenched; and (b) the National Development Plan so developed should be binding on all successive governments." The White Paper further states: "Propositions (a) and (b) will have the effects of a command model of development planning and tie the hands of successive governments to the ideological interests and policies of a particular political party."
But the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), not satisfied with the position of the government, gave notice that it would seek audience with Parliament in an effort to convince the legislature to have the Development Plan (D-Plan) enshrined in the Constitution and make it binding on all governments. The Chairman of the NDPC, Mr Paul Victor Obeng, observed at a recent mining forum in Accra, "I believe in a long term National Development framework that will guide all governments; that surely is the only way by which we can ensure continuity in development."
Mr Obeng was surprised at the government's rejection of the CRC proposal, especially when a considerable number of civil society organisations have embraced the proposal. He contended that, based on his personal strong conviction, he and his commission would lobby Parliament to get the proposal passed.
Before the NDPC came out with its proposition, civil society organisations such as the Integrated Social Development Centre (ISODEC) and Revenue Watch Institute had expressed disappointment at the government's rejection of the long-term D-plan recommendation. Furthermore, several public policy analysts, governance and development experts and academics had informed Public Agenda (see Monday Edition, June 25, 2012) in separate interviews that they could not understand why the government had accepted the CRC's recommendation for a long-term D-Plan only to turn round and to say that it did not want the plan to bind successive governments.
Last week, as indicated in our banner story, "Ahwoi Distances Himself from Govt," Professor Kwamena Ahwoi, a Local Government expert and lecturer at the Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration (GIMPA), has also expressed reservations over the government's rejection of the CRC's recommendation that a long-term D-Plan should be binding on all successive governments which come into power in Ghana. Prof. Ahwoi was quick to stress: "It's my private view and not the view of the government."
He declared that the NDPC did not agree with the government on that binding D-Plan issue. Says the legal don: "In fact, the NDPC itself, of which I am a member, does not agree with the government on that matter."
Public Agenda applauds the boldness and level-headedness of Mr Obeng and Prof. Ahwoi in objectively and dispassionately disowning the entrenched posture of the NDC administration, considering the fact they are key members of the governing party. This paper believes that entrenching a binding D-Plan in the Constitution is a non-negotiable undertaking that must become an election issue. We entreat the electorate to vote for the party that pledges to make the D-Plan survive all governments.