Live from the Woods: New ministries not solution to Ghana’s problems Mr President

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Our governments have a way of solving problems in the country that can be described as simplistic. No extra ordinary thought is required. When there’s a problem they either create a ministry or set up a special committee to deal with it.

This was the style of former Presidents John Agyekum Kufuor, late John Evans Atta Mills and John Dramani Mahama. Fine gentlemen with simplistic thought patterns.

When the health system is malfunctioning, education system broken down, taxes crippling businesses, prices of food stuff increasing, a government official accused of corrupt practices and unemployment rising by the day, what our government does better is to create more institutions to handle them.

Our solutions have been same, yet we are disappointed by the persistence of the problems. It is said that insanity is doing the same thing and expecting a change. This has been the Ghanaian way of doing things. Truly Made in Ghana!

But decades of behaving in this manner have shown that our approach and solutions have been everything, but effective. Our system is none better. In fact, in our attempt to solve one problem, we end up creating dozens in it stead.

Today, we have scarier problems than existed in the past. Unemployment is at an all-time high, businesses are collapsing because of a combination of unfriendly policies, prices of consumer goods are increasing and more people are being shoved into poverty. The few who are benefitting from the status quo will tell you that things are better than they were some years ago.

Despite the negative results our past actions have produced we have shown no sign of reforming our behavior. There is no doubt that our old way of thinking is a major obstacle to the nation’s development.

Former President John Agyekum Kufuor rode to victory in the 2000 elections on the back of ‘positive change ‘in the way things were done in the country. But he ended his tenure with the fundamental things not solved.

He had 30 ministers representing 30 ministries with deputies. We knew some were needless, but he created them anyways. Minister for Parliamentary Affairs, Minister for Public Sector Reform and Minister for Presidential Affairs were some of the ministries that held no relevance for the country.

Former President John Mahama also had same number of ministers. Like his predecessors, Mr Mahama also created ministries which could have been avoided. His government saw more committees set up to investigate issues that could have been handled by some existing institutions.

The remoteness of our governments and their failure to support existing departments and ministries to unearth, understand and solve problems in the country should be a major concern to us. In my opinion, the issue with some of the existing institutions and departments is competency issue which has to be addressed.

We need to audit the issues in the system in order to root out bottlenecks by applying countermeasures. Rather than creating more institutions with overlapping roles to muzzle the problems, we need to retool and empower the existing ones. We need to be ruthless towards corrupt practices.

Ghana doesn’t need Railways Development Ministry to address the nagging issue with our railway system. Available data on the nation’s railway challenges point to the absence of resources and not structures.

Our nation does not need a new Ministry of Reoganisation to spearhead President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo’s plan to create four more regions in the country. The Local Government Ministry working in tandem with the various Regional Security Councils (RESEC), and District Assemblies can get the necessary work done.

We need to reform the way we strain our limited resources. Creation of more structures ends up duplicating responsibilities being performed by another institution and also strain our resources. Our government needs to rethink this issue.

This knee-jerk reaction to problems in the country has to come to an end. We have to find a way of making our governments lean and effective. Creating more structures hasn’t been the solution and we have to discard that.

Government has to find a better way of dealing with its citizens by working with existing structures coupled with an effective management of the nation’s resources.

Instead of creating a new ministry to focus on a problem, it would make sense to set up a desk for an existing ministry to coordinate activities of that body. Our focus should not be about how to improve things but how we can move from the current situation to the intended future.

If the public sector is being crippled by corruption, dogmatic rules and outmoded way of managing things, we need to help the people there to see the light. It is said that good people in broken system will end up developing bad attitudes. We can continue with the indifferent way of doing things if we want our young ones to be corrupted by the stinking system.

In Ghana the difficult things are easy to be done, but the easy ones elude the people who are being paid tax payers money to fix them. As a result of solving the difficult challenges, we end up ignoring their root cause because every big thing was first small.

A lean government is a journey that takes a bold leader. A leaders words do not make him a courageous person, but rather his actions. We need committed leaders to steer the nation away from the old problem solving trajectory.

We have to explore how we can ameliorate the suffering of our people without compounding it. We can begin by encouraging knowledge exchange in government departments and ministries. We can speed up public sector reforms by improving the understanding of persons in leadership positions about their role to the overall economy.

It is, however, time for a change and not rhetoric. Our government must change its ways and become more efficient in the way it provides services to citizens.

We need to reconsider the efficiency and effectiveness of our governments. The knowledge of this would compel us to urge a lean government. President Akufo-Addo must lead not in words, but in deeds.

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Disclaimer:Views expressed here are the author's and do not represent the position of Management of Multimedia Group Limited. The writer, Austin Brako-Powers is a journalist with Joy 99.7 FM and could be reached via Brakomen@outlook.com or www.brakopowers.com