President advocates wider consultations by policy makers

The President, John Mahama, has advocated the necessity for policy makers to engage in wide consultations with the citizenry before any policies and programmes are developed.

He said the formulation and implementation of public policies and programmes are not worth anything if it did not engage and involve a buy-in from the primary stakeholders- the citizens.

President Mahama was addressing the second roundtable of African cabinet secretaries in Accra yesterday, on the theme, “Transparency and accountability in policy formulation and implementation”.

Being organised by the Africa Cabinet Government Network under the auspices of the UK Department for International Development and Adam Smith International, the roundtable has brought together 13 Cabinet Secretaries from East, West and Southern Africa.

Over the next four days, the participants, including former Cabinet Secretaries will share experiences and best practices; with the view to improving executive government decision- making processes.

President Mahama stressed that accountability to the citizenry was an important area of policy implementation that needed to be continuously worked on since policies and programmes developed, were all directed towards improving the lives of the people.

He said the recent launch of an e-cabinet platform by the government, had unburdened members of cabinet who had to take bulky cabinet files to the seat of government every fortnight to attend meetings.

“The importance of the platform to ensuring transparency is that it is now helping us trace and also track the requirements that sponsors of policy memoranda engage in wide-ranging consultations with relevant stakeholders, especially citizens in whose primary interest such policies and programmes are being developed.”

President Mahama noted that over the last two decades, Ghana had worked towards the entrenchment of accountability and transparency in the national scheme of things. He said such initiatives, had found expression in the country’s medium-term development framework.

President Mahama observed that Ghana today, ranks high in all major governance indicators including transparency, human rights, freedom of speech, rule of law, was to a large extent, a result of the entrenchment of accountability in government.

“We have for instance, adopted a National Anti-Corruption Action Plan; this effort was characterized by constructive partnership across all stakeholders including civil society,” he said.

The President indicated that through the help of the country’s cabinet secretariat, various codes of conduct for government appointees and public officials had been adopted and were being implemented.

“In order to give real meaning to these codes, I have requested and the processes are currently ongoing to pass them into law and make them binding,” he added, stressing that the Public Officers’ Code of Conduct Bill was currently awaiting consideration of Parliament.

It was a good decision, he said, that African Cabinet Ministers decided to begin a continent-wide deliberation on how it could champion transparency and accountability in policy formulation and implementation.

He urged the cabinet ministers to work diligently at ensuring that the mechanisms they adopt would directly and indirectly transform the lives of their peoples.

Mr. Roger Angsomwine, Cabinet Secretary of Ghana, in his remarks, said the Africa Cabinet Government Network had earned global accolade for creating a platform on critical governance issues of Africa.

“In all our efforts, the primary thought and focus has to be the citizens of our respective countries who has given us the privilege to serve them,” said Mr. Angsomwine.

Dr. Ernest Surrur, president of the Council of African Cabinet Secretaries, said the organisation was committed to sharing African experiences and building on the positive and negative lessons it could learn from peers.

“For example a key factor behind the success of our first roundtable in Addis Ababa last year, was that most of the input was from Cabinet Secretaries themselves, or their senior staff. We were not lectured by ‘foreign experts,” he said.

By Samuel Nuamah

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