Ghana has failed to structurally transform its economy and society in spite of a sustained period of growth since 1983, vast natural resources availability, stability and relatively strong human capital. Recent analysis of the political economy contends that it is the character of politics in Ghana that has stalled the transformation agenda.
The political character, comprising anti-developmental incentives is generated by its current political settlement.
These assertions were made by the Effective States and Inclusive Development (ESID) Research Centre based at the University of Manchester. The Centre further argues that the political dynamics within specific sectors like natural resources, health and education as well as the business environment shape both policy outcomes and implementation and consequently the prospects for transformation.
In December 2014, President John Mahama submitted to Parliament the NDC government’s agenda for transformation which included development aspirations. But what are the prospects that this time round the current plan is achievable since successive governments have had similar plans laid before Parliament?
Several issues arise from this nagging question. First what are the constraints that Ghana must overcome? Are there trade-offs between the trajectory of political and socio-economic development? If so, what are the forms of elite commitment and state capacity required to promote these trade-offs?
These are the questions panelists from the University of Ghana’s Business School, Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research and ESID recently discussed.
Associate Professor at ISSER, Professor Robert Darko Osei began the discussion on Social Policy for Ghana’s transformational agenda. He said social transformational agenda means increased access to quality education, application of technology to both manufacturing and agricultural industries and access to quality health services at all levels. These measures are essential to boost social development.
The Associate Professor warned that the transformational agenda should not be tied to party politics as the agenda could dissolve when a new political party comes to power.
This, he said, would mean doom for Ghana and advised that the transformational agenda should rather be nationalistic in nature.
The Dean of Business School, Professor Joshua Yindenaba Abor in his presentation focused on Ghana’s revenue sector. For him the informal sector can be explored to improve Ghana’s tax revenue. Increasing the tax net, should come along strengthening registration of the informal sector to increase revenue for the nation’s development.
Executive Director of the Ghana Centre for Democratic Development (CDD), Professor Emmanuel Gyimah Boadi, advised government to appoint competent officials who can manage the economy rather than bringing political cronies who may not be literate with regards to matters concerning economic policy.
A Research Director at ESID, Professor Kunal Sen lamented the failure of Ghana’s sustainable growth to transform economic development. Prof. Sen suggested that more attention should be directed at the agricultural sector while efforts are made to improve the service sector. These two-pronged approaches would propel growth and boost socio-economic transformation.