An effective and a well-directed planning strategy in the life of a country is pre-requisite and indispensable for the realisation of optimum economic growth development and prosperity.
In the light of this ideal perception, it is very significant that the National Development Planning Commission in the Ghanaian situation must be regarded as a great asset and a vital organisation that holds the destiny of Ghana as a country.
That the National Development Planning Commission is a non-partisan political organisation that is primarily focused on the realisation of the continual developmental aspirations of Ghana, cannot be denied or disputed by any sincere and well-informed Ghanaian cultural critic or authority.
For the purpose of this article, it will be of interest and necessary to present a concise background informational sketch in the context of development in the contemporary Ghanaian situation.
Ghana has a history of development planning that dates back almost hundred years. In 1921, the then Governor of the Gold Coast, Sir Gorden Guggisberg, unveiled a ten – year programme (1920 – 1930) that in effect aimed to transform the mono-crop economy into a diversified and resilient one.
The programme covered everything from political and industrial maps to ‘’hydro-electric works’’ to harbours, railways, water supply, and ‘’town improvements’’.
The next major attempts at long-term development planning in Ghana was the ‘’ten-year plan for the Economic And Social Development Of The Gold Coast’’ (1950-1960), which provided an outline of what it is hoped will be achieved in all fields of development during the ten-year period, beginning April, 1, 1950.
In allusion to what economist call ‘’perspective (or long-term) planning the document referred to the Ten-year period as merely one phase in the development of the country which has been going on steadily for many years and will continue beyond the decade with which the plan had a budget of £ 75.0 million.
The most comprehensive national development plan designed for the country was the Seven-Year Development Plan (1963/64 – 1969/70) at a cost of £ 1,016 Million.
The Plan called a public investment programme and emphasis was placed on the ‘’the growth of the productive economy in all its aspects.
The plan was thus represented the first-ever attempt at quantifying economic growth and its relationship to improving the living standards of Ghanaians.
It is significant to know that the present National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) was established under Articles 86 and 87 of the 1992 Constitution as part of the Executive.
The National Development Planning Commission Act 1994 (Act 479) and the National Developmental Planning (system) Act 1994 (Act 480) provide the core legal frame work for the establishment of the Commission and the performance of its functions. Article 86 stipulates the composition of the Commission as follows:
- The Chairman shall be appointed by the President in consultation with the Council Of State.
- The Minister responsible for Finance and such as ministers of state as the President may appoint.
- The government statistian.
- The Governor of the Bank of Ghana.
- One representative from each region of Ghana appointed by the Regional Co-ordinating Councils of the regions and
- Such other persons as may be appointed by the President having regard to their knowledge and experience of the relevant areas and roles pertaining to development, economic social, environment and spatial planning.
The Commission operates through a number of committees; and in accordance with the provision under Article 87 of the Constitution; the core mandate of the Commission is to advise the President on development planning policy and strategy.
The foregoing on the establishment, composition and functions of the National Development Planning Commission, provide a valuable piece of information, which every average concerned Ghanaian about the developmental aspirations of Ghana needs to know in order to get involved in the bandwagon of nation building; and contribute positively in a way to advance the developmental process of the country.
It is evident from the background sketch on the development of the country that the existence of the National Development Planning Commission is relatively recent since independence, when Ghana ceased to be a colony under British colonial rule; and began her own developmental programmes under the first Republic under the leadership of President Nkrumah.
At the present time in Ghana’s political history since independence in 1957, one can safely argue that Ghana as a developing country has not really experienced much realistic and meaningful development as she should have achieved by now.
This argument can be justified by many a concerned Ghanaian cultural critic, who has the interest of the country at heart.
This is so, in the contemporary Ghanaian situation, due to several negative and militating factors that had arisen in the course of the developmental process of the country since independence.
Under President Nkrumah of the first Republic, Ghana embarked on both short-term and long-term developmental programmes that saw the country moving at a fast pace and momentum to experience economic growth, development and prosperity.
To this end, President Nkrumah and his C.P.P government did a great deal to lay a solid infrastructural foundation for the country to take off in development.
As a first step, President Nkrumah sought the financial and technical assistance from the U.S government to build the Akosombo Hydro-Electric Dan for the supply of energy to meet the country’s requirements for a rapid industrial and agricultural development of the country.
This was followed by the expansion of the Takoradi harbour and the building of the Tema harbour and Township and the Tema oil Refinery.
The expansion of the Takoradi harbour was to enhance the exportation of cocoa, the main cash crop of Ghana, and the other agricultural and mineral products of the country such as coffee, timber, rubber, maize, palm oil, gold, diamond, bauxite, manganese etc to boost the growing economy of the country.
President Nkrumah went on further to establish the Aluminium Smelter at Akosombo, the Atomic Energy Commission at Kwabenya in Accra to promote scientific and industrial research. He also established the Black Star shipping line, the Ghana Airways Co-operation and other state corporations such as the Ghana National Trading Co-operation (G.N.T.C) the Ghana Publishing Corporation etc. to promote and hasten the developmental process of the country.
However, to the detriment and disadvantage of the country, this fast developmental pace and momentum was suddenly halted as a result of a military coup de tat that toppled Nkrumah’s government on February 24th 1966 to oust him and his C.P.P government from power.
This change in the governance of the country which was brought about by the National Liberation Council (NLC) saw the abrogation, discontinuation and abandonment of many of the important developmental programmes for the country that were initiated by the first Republic under President Nkrumah’s leadership.
Thus, the country was set back on the clock of progress with the emergence of military rule of the National Liberation Council (NLC).
After a period of three years of military rule, the country was returned to civilian rule in partisan politics; and the Progress Party (P.P) under the leadership of Dr. Kofi Abrefa Busia assumed governance of the country in September 1969.
This change was however short-lived; and within a space of twenty seven months, the Progress Party government was overthrown in another military coup de tat led by Colonel Ignatius Kutu Acheampong on January 13, 1972.
Thus, Dr. Busia’s government did not see the light of the day to enable it to carry out all its developmental programmes, particularly Busia’s famous rural development programme which was designed to develop the rural areas of the country to ease the continual overcrowding of the urban areas and cities by providing job avenues to the youth in the rural set up of the country.
General Kutu Acheampong as he was later called, and his Redemption Council (NRC) and the subsequent Supreme Military Council (S.M.C) did not impact much on the developmental process of the country, except the unbriddled spate of corruption; and the massive looting of the national coffers to the brink of economic chaos and collapse in the later 1970’s by the members of the Supreme Military Council and its chairman, General Kutu Acheampong and their well-wishers favourites and admirers in the upsurge of widespread and entrenched corruption in the Ghanaian society during that period of time in Ghana’s history as a developing country in Africa South of the Sahara.
On the fringe and verge of economic collapse, Ft. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings out of the blue emerged on to the political scene with his Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC) to overthrow the Supreme Military Council (S.M.C) under the leaders hip of General F.W.K Akuffo on June 4th 1979; who had justtaken over the governance of the country, barely a year ago firm his boss, General Kutu Acheampong in a palace coup de tat.
The country began to recover from her economic malaise and chaos, and began to rebuild in the later 1970’s, 1980’s, 1990’s under the governance of the Armed Forces Revolutionary Council (AFRC), the Provincial Defence Council (PNDC) and the National Democratic Congress (NDC) under the able leadership of Ft. Lieutenant Jerry John Rawlings, Chairman of the AFRC and the PNDC respectively and the President of Ghana with the NDC Party governance of the country, during the 4th Republican Constitution of Ghana.
In fact, Ghana as one of the fastest African developing country at the moment, had gone through chequered experiences since attaining independence from British colonial rule.
To this end, Ghana has somehow experienced little economic growth development and prosperity; however, by critical analysis and evaluation, Ghana woefully falls short in significance as far as realistic and meaningful development of the country are concerned.
It is indisputable that, Ghana should have experienced a much higher level of economic growth, development and prosperity than the position in which she finds herself now, if there had been a healthy sustainable and peaceful developmental atmosphere or situation.
This unfavourable political and economic experience that Ghana had experienced in the past is the result of her present unenviable developmental achievements as a country.
One can at this stage pose the pertinent question what is the ideal developmental expectation for a country like Ghana?
In my opinion, the definition and the assessment of a truly developing or developed country should not be restricted to the material or physical things only such as the construction and building of high class motorways, roads, railways, harbours, airports, scientific and research institutions, Universities, polytechnics, hospitals and the use of ICT computers and digital communication system etc; but moral and spiritual education consciousness of the people of a country is highly essential in the life of a country in her developmental aspirations.
When these two aspects of development are manifesting in a country, then I will personally describle this country as a truly or well-developing or developed country.
Because these two aspects of development must collaborate and complement each other in developmental aspirations of a country to effect an ideal development achievements and for that matter ‘’utopia’’.
By virtue of its mandate and modus operandi in the developmental aspirations of Ghana as presented in the foregoing, the National Development Planning Commission must endeavour at all costs to effect the continual developmental aspirations of the country.
This will enable Ghana to move fast forward to experience optimum economic growth, development and prosperity within the present 21st century of historic time.
To this end, the National Development Planning Commission must be more prudent, more circumspect, more judicious and more nationalistic in its operation in order to ensure that, Ghana continues to benefit positively in all her developmental programmes that will be designed by successive governments of the country.
In conclusion, I state categorically that the National Development Planning Commission must not be interfered with or frustrated in any way by any ruling government of the country, so that it will be very effective in its modus operandi to influence, direct and champion the cause of all national developmental programmes of the country, such as the present on going one, which is popularly and well-described as Ghana beyond aid agenda.
By Michael Akenoo, Theatre Critic