Regional News of Friday, 27 June 2014
As part of its consultation process with stakeholders to fine-tune the Ghana Shared Growth and Development Agenda (GSGDA) II for 2014 to 2017, the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) on Tuesday met with the joint Committee on Finance and Poverty Reduction Strategy in Parliament.
Members of the committee lauded the NDPC for the thorough work done, but expressed concern that recommendations in the draft report presented by the NDPC Director General, Dr Regina O Adutwum, were based on evidence from 2012, saying 2013 had got worse.
“So all your projections based on 2012 are dead on arrival,” the Minority Spokesperson for Finance, Dr Anthony Akoto Osei, said. For instance, he cited that Ghana’s fiscal deficit had changed since 2012.
Insisting that there was the need for the prioritisation of issues raised in the report, he recommended that instead of the 158 listed accountable governance issues, the 20 most crucial ones could be identified and worked on.
Dr Akoto Osei also stated that the Ministry of Finance was violating the District Assembly Common Fund (DACF) laws, alleging that the laws on financial administration had been put aside in the disbursement.
He noted that in the absence of a fiscal responsibility law, other laws on financial administration could be employed by legislators to put things in check.
The committee members also blamed the challenges of development cited in the draft report on indiscipline.
“The main constraint of the development of Ghana is indiscipline. If we are not disciplined Ghana will become a basket case,” the Member of Parliament for Shama, Mr Gabriel Kodwo Essilfie, said.
Referring to the challenges of environmental sanitation mentioned in the report, the Member of Parliament for Ningo/Prampram, Mr Enoch Teye Mensah, said “the filth that we see around is a result of inaction.”
He said there were no planning units at the district assemblies and, therefore, called for the proper structuring of systems.
The Member of Parliament for Subin, Mr Isaac Osei, however, said there was a delink in the annual budget and the release of funds, while information currently available did not match what was in the draft report because certain things may have happened in 2013 that were not captured.
He stated that certain portions of the report indicated that the environment for doing business had not shown any improvement, which meant that either the reforms were not working or were not being implemented.
According to him, an Industrial Development Fund (IDF) with a support programme was supposed to have been established at the time that the industrial sector policy framework was put in place but it had still not been established.
The Member of Parliament for Yapei/Kusawgu, Alhaji Seidu Amadu, recommended that “First, let’s resolve the funding constraints– identify them and then see how the resolution of these funding constraints will propel the development of Ghana.”
Dr Adutwum, however, explained that the period of assessment for the report was 2009 to 2013. She agreed that indiscipline had affected implementation of the country’s laws. “We have beautiful laws but no power of enforcement,” she said.
The NDPC Director General also stated that much of the country’s development challenges were as a result of the lack of prioritisation and the weak link that existed in the country’s budget.
Earlier in the presentation of the draft report of the GSGDA II (2014-2017) to the joint committee, Dr Adutwum stated, “The strategic direction for national development is to leverage our natural resource endowments, agriculture potential and relatively large human resource base to accelerate socio-economic transformation through value addition and industrial production, starting with light manufacturing and diversification.”
She said this would be supported by partnership with the private sector to expand the development of critical infrastructure through self-financing means, including public-private partnerships (PPPs) and other commercial arrangements.
Dr Adutwum told the committee that the policy proposals over the medium term would anchor on the continued pursuit of macroeconomic stability, the creation of the right fiscal space for accelerated investments in key priority programmes and the sustainable exploration of Ghana’s natural resources in the agricultural sector, minerals, oil and gas.
She said the policy would also focus on strategic investments in human capital, infrastructure, human settlements, science, technology and innovation to drive industrialisation, especially manufacturing.