Dr Ishmael Yamson, former Chairman, University of Ghana (UG) Council, has called for a constitutional amendment to ensure continuity of development projects by subsequent governments.
He said Clause 35(7) of the 1992 Constitution provides that “as far as practicable, a government shall continue and execute projects and programmes commenced by the previous government”.
He said this was good for continuity and judicious use of scarce financial resources; stating that the same Constitution also provides that, “For the purpose of the foregoing clause of this article, within two years after assuming office, the President shall present to Parliament a coordinated programme of economic and social development policies, including agricultural and industrial programmes, at all levels and in all regions of Ghana”.
“And Ghana Beyond Aid (GhaBA) is a product of this constitutional provision,” Dr Yamson said on Tuesday at the official opening of the 71st Annual New Year School and Conference (ANYSC) being held under the theme: “Attaining GhaBA: Prospects and Challenges”.
“All previous presidents have taken advantage of this provision and discarded everything their predecessors did, including discontinuing projects and programmes often at a great cost to the country,” he said.
“This provision clearly makes it mandatory for all presidents to choose not to continue with the economic policies of their predecessors and the GhaBA, a product of this provision, may suffer the same fate.”
He cited some national development blue prints which have been abandoned so far such as the Vision 2020 and the 40 Year Development Plan.
“The National Development Planning Commission (NDPC) under the last Administration prepared a 40-year Long Term Plan which now appears to be shelved, and with it a waste of scarce resources. So there is a reality that until this Constitutional Provision is removed or amended we will have no consistency of economic policy which is critical for sustained economic policy focus and development.”
The 71st ANYSC, which is being organised by the School of Continuing and Distance Education, UG, was formally opened by President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo.
Present at the event was the Mr Yaw Osafo Maafo, the Senior Minister and Chairman of the GhaBA Committee.
Dr Yamson said: “Aid-dependency is a choice that countries make. A country can choose to be poor and aid-dependent or rich and beyond needing aid. We have now chosen to become a country which does not need aid, so let us see what challenges are likely to confront us.”
He said the Constitution also gives the President extensive powers of appointments in the public sector which makes a “Winner Takes All” possible.
He said this leads to a democracy of exclusion because only party-related supporters find their way at all levels of the public sector administration.
“This system does not promote professionalism, competence and efficiency in public sector management. We are witnesses to the situation where even caterers in the School Feeding Programme rotate with administrations,” Dr Yamson said.
He said if the GhaBA Charter is to become a national agenda and if Ghanaians must improve the governance and the quality of management in the public sector this Constitutional Provision should also be reviewed to promote inclusiveness.
Professor Ebenezer Owusu Oduro, Vice Chancellor, UG, urged government to promote the adoption of the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS) towards attaining the GhaBA.
IPSAS are a set of accounting standards issued by the IPSAS Board for use by public sector entities around the world in the preparation of financial statements.
Prof Oduro said the UG, which was the first public institution in the country to adopt the accounting framework, has already published its first audited IPSAS compliant financial statement for the year 2017.
The Vice Chancellor urged other public institutions to follow the practice to ensure accountability and transparency in the country’s accounting systems.
Prof Akua Kuenyehia, Acting Chairperson, UG Council, who chaired the function, lauded the School of Distance and Continuing Education for the sustained efforts in organising the ANYSC.