Ghana PRS has “potential”

2 November 2001

An assessment of Ghana’s Poverty Reduction Strategy process (GPRS) suggests there is much potential for formulating, in a participatory manner, an effective poverty reduction strategy. However, there is no guarantee that this will be realised. The report for the Overseas Development Institute warns that the “good intentions of the NPP [National Progressive Party] government remain to be tested in practice, particularly in situations where trade-offs present themselves between poverty reduction and economic growth led by the private sector.”

Even though Ghana is better placed than other African countries with regard to its public administration and institutional structures, “the state of Ghana’s public administration remains a major impediment to an effective attack on poverty.” In particular, there is concern that the ad hoc team drawing up the plan is an “enclave” within the already “marginalized” and “under-resourced” National Development and Planning Commission (NDPC). Key ministries such as agriculture, health and education are not well integrated into the process, and there are uncertainties about the adequacy of arrangements for translating the GPRS policies into regular budget formulation processes.

The report finds that “the government is in the driving seat”, with the World Bank and IMF taking a hands-off approach. Yet, it notes that this may be an “opportunistic” response by the government to secure more aid, concealing hidden conditionality.

A survey of civil society groups, think-tanks and the media found that there was little awareness of the process, “even among those who ought to know”. “There are frameworks for participation in place which can be built upon but actual processes remain distorted by a top-down culture.” Another key concern is the lack of attention to effective use of data, analysis and monitoring.

In summary the report is optimistic for the “potential” for effective institutionalisation of the process, but warns that it could turn into “just another aid-raising exercise designed to satisfy the donors.”

Poverty-Reducing Institutional Change and PRSP Processes: the Ghana Case at Wider, UN University