GOVERNMENT NEEDS TO PROPERLY SENSITISE THE PUBLIC ON ITS PROGRAMMES AND POLICIES BEFORE THEIR INTRODUCTION.
There is a popular Akan saying which is literarily translated as; “the one who is cutting the path is not able to tell that his/her back is crooked.” This is to emphasize the need for feedback in all our activities including that of the government. These feedbacks enable us to restrategise to get things done properly to meet the satisfaction of our clients or the citizens on the part of governments.
Governments all over the world have a kind of social contract with their citizens. This comes about when the citizenry surrender their individual powers to the state to proceed to allocate resources and undertake other duties on their behalf. This social contract demands that the state takes decisions that will be in the interest of the citizens. There is therefore, the need for governments to ensure that there is a channel through which feedback can be received from the populace regarding the policies and programmes of the governments. The government of Ghana is not an exception regarding this practice.
In the light of the above practices, we feel the government of Ghana is not doing enough to clearly inform the citizenry on its policies and programmes before implementation. Information to the citizens is always scanty thereby making most of the citizens wondering exactly what their government is doing. PIRAN-GH wishes to task government to as a matter of urgency, meet the budgets of the Information Ministry and the National Commission for Civic Education to enable them take up their core mandates seriously to sensitize and explain novelty programme and policies of the Government to the masses before they are rolled out. This when properly done will save the government the embarrassment of frequent oppositions and rejection of its programmes leading to some of them being withdrawn eventually.
There is this emerging trend in Ghanaian politics where certain intended programmes and policies of the government have to be withdrawn or suspended due to lack of sufficient information out there for those who are the intended beneficiaries.
The very recent examples that come to mind are; the suspension of mandatory towing levy, suspension of clamp down on foreign retailers, the suspension of Cargo Tracking Note (CTN) at the ports few months after it was introduced, suspension of import VAT on some 64 commodity groups including mobile phones and the suspension of the ban on fishing in the month of August 2018 among others.
The suspension of most of these interventions obviously has some financial implications for the state. This is true because, before any programme is rolled out, some resources will definitely have to be expended in putting the whole package together. Situations of this nature we think should not be given room to recur. Should it even happen at all, it should be very minimal. We believe that if the necessary efforts are made in getting the needed supports for the agencies which can help in explaining the policies and programmes to the populace as well as rolling out only very well thought through programmes and policies, a lot of savings will be made by the state.
We would also like to urge the institutions with the constitutional mandate to educate the populace on the programmes and policies of the government to up their game and be seen by all to be delivering on their mandates.
We are really apprehensive that the double-track school calendar system risks falling into the above category. This is because the key stakeholders like the teacher unions have serious concerns. The National Association of Graduate Teachers has even resolved to stay away from any deliberations on the proposed double-track system for now due to government’s uncompromising stance. The concerns they have are due to lack of better clarification of the in and out of the programme to them by government. They, members of the various teacher unions will virtually be the ones supervising this intervention and if they have concerns, it is just proper that all efforts are put in place to address them very well before the take off the programme. There is still a little room for government to do so before the programme takes off finally in September 2018.
We would like to conclude by reiterating our call for an extra effort to be made by government to sensitize and clearly explain its policies and programmes to the populace before full implementation. We believe that this is the way to go and this will save the government from any embarrassment in terms of backtracking in a
Situation where there is total rejection of its particular policies and programmes. Government should keep an eye on the public purse and strive to safeguard it by taking actions that will enhance our development agenda as a sovereign state.
James Kwaku Dumenyah
Co ordinator. PIRAN-GH.
Felix Djan Foh