A HISTORIC National Policy Fair designed to provide a platform for Ghanaians to get involved in the government’s ‘better Ghana’ agenda was opened by the Vice-President, Mr John Dramani Mahama, in Accra yesterday.
The five-day event, on the theme, “Engaging the Citizenry for A Better Ghana”, is to open the doors of all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to Ghanaians and enable the citizenry engage with the leadership of those institutions to appreciate their policies, programmes and activities.
Consequently, stands have been provided at the Accra International Conference (AICC), the venue of the fair, for ministries, some government departments and agencies where individuals could make inquiries about issues involving those institutions and also make suggestions.
The fair, an annual affair to be replicated in all the regions, is under the auspices of the Ministry of Information.
Some of the ministries with stands on the premises of the AICC are the ministries of Transport, Energy, Foreign Affairs, Tourism, Finance and Economic Planning, Trade and Industry, Food and Agriculture, Women and Children’s Affairs, as well as departments and agencies under them.
Present at the opening ceremony were sector ministers, their deputies, service commanders, Members of Parliament (MPs), heads of departments and agencies, members of the Diplomatic Corps, members of the Council of State, traditional leaders, the clergy and the general public.
As part of the event, experts will be engaged in the days ahead to share their thoughts and insights on topics such as ‘Bridging the gap between the public and the private sectors in the policy formulation and implementation circle: A critical appraisal of the Ghanaian situation’; ‘The importance of a policy fair and how it can expedite development’, ‘The incursion into what kind of policies Ghana needs at this stage of her development’.
Opening the fair, Mr Mahama stressed that the initiative was underscored by the conviction that the enterprise of nation-building involved the collective effort of its entire population.
“To this end, the government expects to use this Policy Fair to further open up governance and get the ordinary Ghanaian to be part of the development process of this country,” he noted.
He said the opening of MDAs to the public would help demystify the art of governance by narrowing the interface between public sector institutions, the private sector and civil society organisations with the ordinary citizenry, thereby making government more interactive and relevant to every Ghanaian.
He observed that as a government, some of the policies the NDC had introduced which were of note included the elimination of 3,947 under-tree schools, free school uniforms for pupils in deprived communities and the decision to procure and manufacture them locally, free exercise books for pupils in deprived communities, for which more than 42 million had already been distributed, special scholarships for maths and science students, local content policy for the oil and gas sector, the hedging of petroleum pricing and the Youth in Agriculture programme.
Mr Mahama observed that every policy must have at its core an improvement in the living conditions and welfare of the people.
“We must also ensure that at all material moments, the national interest is paramount in the policies we formulate and implement. The public interest will, therefore, continue to be the driving principle behind any policy we initiate for implementation,” he stated.
For his part, the Minister of Information, Mr John Tia Akologo, said it was the hope of the ministry that the fair would help it collate information on government policies, projects and programmes, as well as deepen public consultation.
“In this way, the appropriate feedback from the public to the government will be achieved to afford the government the opportunity to formulate an acceptable development agenda for the nation,” he stated.
The Chairman for the occasion, Mr Paul Victor Obeng, said the fair had the objective of encouraging the people to participate in the ‘better Ghana’ agenda being implemented by the Mills administration.
Mr Obeng, who is the Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), expressed his gratitude to the organisers of the event, adding that it was part of the development planning programme of the country and called on all Ghanaians to take advantage of it.