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Sound Public Policy in Ghana, Principles and Imperatives

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  • We love the Swiss or say the Norwegians or the Swedish and their efficient state models but we have never sat down to discuss the underpinning principles that guide their public policy or public value creation process.
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Ghanaian policy making process has not yielded the needed outcomes after several years of independence.

There are those who believe it’s an issue of political will to execution and there are those who see the problem as a structural problem from the governance process itself. The slow paced development we are now accustomed to makes a critical analysis of policy matters more imperative than ever. The issues of policy have not been discussed from first principle basis.

Discussions around policy have not been done from a position of principle, sound public policy principles but mostly from "political economy" perspectives. We cannot also gauge policy in Ghana from concrete terms of evidence based or ideological based. It’s always a matter of convenience, rent seeking, parasitism, intergenerational dependency and social addiction to the welfarist tendencies of the state.

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Some discuss policy merely as an afterthought rather than as a prerequisite for social and economic development. In fact, the manner in which manifestoes are drafted and the execution thereof makes me wonder if our public policy making process has a sound FOUNDATION guiding it. We have never discussed the pristine principles that guard our policy process as a country.

We know the directive principles of state policy contained in the constitution but one wonders if in the execution and transformation of this principles into serious policy, we are guided by the most RATIONAL and widely accepted PRINCIPLES of sound public policy.

Sometimes you read about policy decisions and you wonder whether they are just ingenious speculations or splendid conjectures of our policy makers.

In other societies, policy making Principles are given chief attention even before the drafting is done. These principles are openly avowed or secretly cherished in many discourses on policy in other societies. We love the Swiss or say the Norwegians or the Swedish and their efficient state models but we have never sat down to discuss the underpinning principles that guide their public policy or public value creation process.

Two (2) years ago, I came across a write up by Lawrence Reed and the Mackinac Center for public policy on the seven principles of sound public policy. These principles have been translated into 8 languages and the author has discussed them in over 200 places including Chinese Universities.

I find them particularly awesome and I wish our policy making process is underpinned by them. It takes serious philosophical interpretation of some of them to understand the wisdom inherent in them.

1. Free people are not equal and equal people are not free.

2. What belongs to you, you tend to take care of, what belongs to no one, every one tends to fall into despair.

3. Sound policy requires that we consider long term effects and all people, and not simply short term run effects and a few people.

4. If you encourage something (incentives) you get more of it, if you discourage something, you get less of it.

5. Nobody spends somebody else's money as carefully as he spends his own money.

6. Government has nothing to give anybody except what it takes from somebody and a government that is big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take away everything you have got.

7. Liberty makes the difference in the world.

 

 

Sound Public Policy in Ghana, Principles and Imperatives
By: Ebenezer Nii-Tackie Oblie Teflondon
CPRC

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