Indeed, the object of the Bill is well intentioned because such initiatives have helped in other places with similar situations. Everyone knows that the Northern Region of ghana has a great potential for the economic development of the country. I have been amazed by the large tract of land that is available there and the other resources that it has for the potential development of the place. Indeed, what is lacking is that we as a nation have not taken advantage of the resources and the potential that the North has. So this Fund, I believe, will help address the problem if it is indeed taken seriously.
However, if the purpose of the Bill is going to be beneficial to the people of the North, certain precautions will need to be taken. For instance, we are talking about using the Fund to develop the North. From which perspective of development are we talking about? Is it from the bureaucrats or from the people of the North themselves? So one needs to get the involvement of the people in defining the basics of development that are required as a springboard to equity development as the South.
Furthermore, we need to consider what structures are really the basics for such a developmental agenda. And I believe that should well inform us even to think of how much is required in terms of creating seed money as an interventionist approach to solving the development problems of the North. Without that guidance I think we will all be wish-washing the issue rather than basically seeming to address the problem that is confronting the North as a whole.
So one needs, as a Colleague from Tamale South Constituency (Mr. Haruna Iddrisu) said, to ensure that there is
continuous inflow into this Fund otherwise it is just at the charity of some other authority to continue with the agenda that we are setting ourselves in the Bill.
We also need to ensure that there is increase in whatever goes into the Fund to make sure that the wide range of issues that need to be addressed in terms of not only the physical agenda that would be required, in terms of infrastructure, but there would also be social problems that need to be addressed in proposing and projecting that developmental agenda. All these will require a large amount of investment which needs to be considered in terms of the inflow and the amount that is required.
Mr. Speaker, I think you gave me just a few minutes so I will end here by saying that, yes, it is indeed a laudable idea but we need to also give a proper structure to the planning that we are putting in place to propel this wonderful agenda for the people of the North. Thank you.
Mr. J. H. Mensah (NPP - Sunyani
East): Mr. Speaker, if I may beg your indulgence to crave an old man's privilege, as Chairman of the National Development Planning Commission (NDPC), I have a duty to address myself to these matters perhaps in greater detail than other hon. Members and I will crave your indulgence to take a couple more minutes than the others.
Mr. Speaker, first of all, it is a good
thing that in our planning practice and policy-making, we are now beginning to give greater recognition to the fact that, in making development policy the one “size fits all” formula that is developed in Accra, is no longer an appropriate and sufficient way of dealing with the problems of the country. Even the ecological differences and climatic differences in the country alone suggest
that more attention to localize planning and to knowledge of local conditions, development possibilities is of the essence, getting the enterprise correctly tackled.
It is indeed a pity that in proposing a Bill, we are proposing a fund Bill; we are not proposing a development Bill. The difference between those two conceptions would be quite significant and I hope that when we set up a Board to pay particular attention to the developmental needs of the North, their concern will not be so much with administering funds as regarding the development of the North.
The two things are not the same because you can waste a lot of money achieving very little development if the planning, conception, knowledge and technology are not sufficient.
When we get to the Consideration Stage of this Bill, perhaps, we may try to do a little bit to redress the balance. Indeed, it is a pity and I have often advised this House that grave deficiency in our machinery is that we have no economic committee to look at such matters.
This is a Report from the Finance Committee and of course, they are dealing with the fund. The Northern problem of course, is not a fund problem, it is development problem. And therefore, I find it quite useless that in the press recently there has arisen a lot of unnecessary controversy about whether we should have one billion or two billion.
It just shows a total ignorance of what is required to be done. It is not required that the government shall set up a fund which in advance finances the develop- ment of the North. That is not how you do it. All that is required is that there shall be a planning authority with enough seed
money to call into operation the resources that are needed for the development of the North, both financial and other developmental resources. So that the emphasis should not be in our thinking whether we should allocate gH¢2 billion or gH¢1 billion as is being debated in less well informed circles.
Mr. Speaker, the seed money will call
forth investment funds in the same way that we have to go and find money to build the Cape Coast road, so we have to go and find money to fix that Salaga to Tamale road so that instead of three hours you can get there in an hour-and-half and that is the essence of the problem.
I see also, Mr. Speaker, that even though members of the Planning Commission will be elected from the northern areas, and are supposed members of this Trustee Board, there is very little recognition of what is a very important principle for the future planning and development of this country namely, that regional initiative shall be used to the fullest extent possible.
We are encouraging the Regional Development Committees, Regional Co-ordinating Councils and District Assemblies and the Municipalities and so on to get down to the job of thinking about their own development needs, fashioning plans and going out to even execute those plans.
In the field of education for instance, we have had as a matter of law for years, that the responsibility for developing the education of the district should belong to the District Assembly. And that is what we ought to encourage the District Assemblies to do and yet this Bill shows very little awareness of the pattern of machinery that we need to create to achieve successful