TWO speakers at yesterday's dialogue session of the National Policy Fair in Accra, have called for a system that would encourage sustainability of policies, programmes and projects even after a change of government.
They decried the situation where a change of government always went with a change of ideas because each political party wanted to identify itself with a particular policy, which it could boast as its own.
The speakers were the Chairman of the Policy Evaluation and Oversight Unit at the Presidency, Dr Tony Aidoo, and the Executive Director of the Institute of Democratic Governance (IDEG), Dr Emmanuel Akwetey.
Their topic was: "From Conception to Policy: a critical appraisal of the Ghanaian situation".
Members of the public who were present at the session were allowed to ask questions to which the speakers took turns to respond.
Setting the tone for an interesting public discussion, Dr Aidoo pointed out that policies, programmes and projects did not mean the same, and explained that "a policy is simply what we should do, programmes are plans of action and steps, and projects are activities under execution".
Touching on the topic, the former Deputy Minister of Defence came out with a number of factors, which he said frustrated long-term policy formulation and implementation in developing countries.
Those factors, he noted, included weak political will, partisan party politics and its concomitant intransigent positions, as well as weak institutional capacity in the areas of personnel, finance and technology.
Others, according to Dr Aidoo, were the absence or low level inter-ministerial or cross-section co-operation and co-ordination, as well as lack of problem anticipation in policy formulation.
He expressed disquiet at the delays by public sector officials in responding to official requests and charged personnel of the policy planning monitoring and evaluation (PPME) units within the various ministries, department and agencies (MDAs) to be up and doing in spite of the challenges many of them faced.
Dr Aidoo maintained that if that unit worked effectively, information could easily be sourced to ensure effective policy formulation and implementation.
For his part, Dr Akwetey suggested to the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) to tap all important issues raised in the manifestos of all the political parties for the benefit of the people.
He said the NDPC could serve a very useful purpose, since it was not a political party and ,therefore, could use those ideas embedded in the manifestos without being accused of 'stealing ideas' from a particular political party.
He stated that the nation was always the loser if politicians decided to keep ideas to themselves till their party came to power, adding that such an attitude did not enhance the development of the country.
He stressed that ideas had a life of their own because of situation changes, adding that if one decided to keep an idea to himself till his political party came to power, it was possible that the idea would go stale and become useless.
Dr Akwetey commended the organisers of the Policy Fair, but said it would have been better if the various political parties had been involved to enable them to share ideas.
The broad theme of the five-day fair, which ends on Saturday, May 1, 2010, is “Engaging the Citizenry for A Better Ghana”.
The fair is meant to open the doors of all ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs) to Ghanaians and enable the citizenry to engage with the leadership of those institutions to appreciate their policies, programmes and activities.
Present at yesterday’s dialogue session were the Minister of Defence, Lt General J.H. Smith (retd); the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Alhaji Mohammed Mumuni; the Minister of Information, Mr John Tia Akologo; the Deputy Minister of the Interior, Dr Kwasi Apea-Kubi; the Deputy Minister for Women and Children's Affairs, Hajia Hawuwa Gariba, and a Deputy Minister of Information, Mr Samuel Okudjeto-Ablakwa.
The founder and Executive Director of IMANI Foundation, Mr Franklin Cudjo, served as the moderator.