Editorial: Campaign promises: Need for a Legislated National Development Plan

As the 2024 General Elections campaign season approaches, many are the promises politicians will make to us the electorate to get our votes. Much as these campaign promises serve as a social contract between the government and the governed, it is trite knowledge that most of these promises never get fulfilled.

The Chronicle holds the view that governments fail to fulfill their campaign promises because the voters themselves fail to hold the political leaders accountable at the end of their tenure of office.

The Chronicle would wish to draw the attention of Ghanaians to some promises being made by former President John Dramani Mahama as he tours some regions of the country.

The 2020 flagbearer of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) says the next government, under his leadership in 2025, would not be in a hurry to undertake new projects, because he anticipates that the fiscal space would be too small for such ambitions.

He said the party’s priority would be to complete all stalled projects under the New Patriotic Party (NPP) administration, noting that the decision of the current government to abandon projects started under the NDC had been one of the major drawbacks to the country.

He indicated that the NDC would take an inventory of all abandoned projects in the country and ensure that they are completed before tackling new ones.

Mr. Mahama was speaking to branch and constituency executives in Odumase in the Lower Manya Krobo Constituency, in the Eastern Region, as well as Kwadaso Constituency polling station executives and the Tertiary Educational Institutions Network (TEIN) members at the Akenten Appiah Menkah University of Skills and Entrepreneurial Development (AAMUSTED) auditorium in Kumasi some weeks ago.

First of all, if the country was to chart a proper development path, we wouldn’t need politicians to make big promises every four years.

Many advanced countries have well laid down development plans that governments must follow, irrespective of their political ideologies. This has ensured continuous development in all sectors of their economies.

In Ghana, we have the National Development Planning Commission, which has been charged with the responsibility of putting together a national development plan, and ensuring that such plans are executed by all governments.

In fact, due to the important role the Commission is expected to play in nation building, the framers of the 1992 Constitution dedicated Articles 86 to 87 to spell out its duties and responsibilities.

Truth be told, the NDC government, under John Mahama, instituted a 40-year National Development Plan, since, according to them, most of the development challenges facing Ghana were structural in nature, and require a long-term view and solution. The then Director-General of the National Development Planning Commission, Dr. Nii Moi Thompson, said the 40-year period would bind successive governments and allow any governing political party to formulate its activities, in line with the national vision to guarantee consistent economic growth and infrastructure expansion.

However, when the NPP government took over power in 2017, it downplayed the relevance of a 40-year National Development Plan to guide Ghana’s development agenda. According to Senior Minister Yaw Osafo-Maafo, a long-term plan for national development must be limited to ten years, due to world economic conditions and the advancement in technology.

Well, maybe if the NDC had legislated the 40-year National Development Plan by sending it to Parliament, we would not be where we are today, with the NPP and NDC toying with the development fortunes of the country.

Today, former President John Mahama has come full circle and is promising that the NDC would take an inventory of all abandoned projects in the country and ensure that all such initiatives are completed before tackling new ones.

The Chronicle’s question is what happens if the NDC comes to power and fails to fulfill these promises. Who would hold them responsible?

It will, therefore, be prudent for us to develop a long-term plan with the help of the Legislative House, which will accommodate both the continuity required for a long-term view of national development.

The time to act is now!


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