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General News of Friday, 9 October 2015

Source: National Development Planning Commission

'The people's voice vital for development planning'

National Development Planning Commission National Development Planning Commission

"A good development plan is one in which the people, ordinary citizens have a voice in shaping the process and content," said Dr Emmanuel K. Derbile, Upper West Region's representative at the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC).

"The extent to which the plan reflects the realities of our development context and strategic needs will depend on the extent to which the citizens participate in the process," Dr. Derbile stressed.

He was chairing the Upper West consultations towards the preparation of a 40-year development plan for Ghana organised by NDPC on October 8-9, 2015. This is the fourth in the nationwide series of consultations. The first three were held in the Ashanti, Upper East and Northern regions.

Although there would be challenges due to differences of opinion on the appropriateness of such a long-term plan, " history teaches us that the countries that we often like to compare ourselves with in reference to our state of development at independence, the Asian Tigers, made significant strides in their development through long term planning," he added.

The Regional Minister, Alhaji Amin Amidu Sulemani, in a welcome address delivered on his behalf by the Deputy Regional Minister, Dr Mushiebu Mohammed-Alfah, said that lack of continuity of projects by governments has hampered development in Ghana. He said it is in this regard that "we call for the establishment of a long-term national development plan which shall be binding on governments as a way to guarantee sustainable development regardless of the party in power."

Dr Mohammed-Alfah noted that President John Mahama had called on every Ghanaian, especially the youth, to participate actively in the discussions and consultations, and avoid cynicism and self-doubt. In this light, the forum was an opportunity for people in the Upper West Region to make inputs to guarantee collective ownership of the final plan. He commended NDPC for an initiative that involved people from all the different professional, business, ideological and academic backgrounds in this national assignment.

The kind of country Ghanaians want to live in will not come naturally, but will have to be planned and implemented, said Dr. I.F. Mensa-Bonsu, NDPC Director for Plan Coordination. Speaking on behalf of the NDPC Director-General, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, he emphasised that, "We need to dream it, plan it and live it."

Dr. Mensa-Bonsu said that today's infrastructure and technology was the result of someone's dream many years ago. He therefore called on all participants to dream of the Ghana they want and see to its implementation for the benefit of generations to come. Key factors for the achievement of a shared vision for the nation included attitudinal change, development of human capital, science, technology and innovation, as well as land reforms, institutional modernisation and infrastructure expansion.

Illustrating how the 40-year plan will be rolled out, Dr. Mensa-Bonsu likened the plan to the construction of a 10-storey building with one floor to be completed every four years, representing ten medium-term plans for the period . He encouraged all to get on board, stating that "where there is a will, there is a way."

Participants met in groups after the opening session, to share and exchange ideas on the long-term national development plan.

They included experts from decentralised ministries, departments and agencies civil society organisations, students, and representatives of the six main political parties in the last general elections: the New Patriotic Party, the National Democratic Congress, the Convention People's Party, the Progressive People's Party, the People's National Convention, and the Great Consolidated Popular Party.

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