The 3rd National Policy Fair under the administration of the ruling National Democratic Congress (NDC) came to a successful end at the Accra International Conference Centre last week.
This year’s six-day fair on the theme: “Building Together in a Better Ghana” came on the heels of two successful policy fairs held in 2010 and 2011.
The theme was very important because there is strength in unity or togetherness and it is only through this that government can better enhance its policy formulation for the total achievement of its ‘Better Ghana Agenda’.
Again there could not have been a better theme this year than what was chosen especially coming after last year’s event which had the theme ; “Empowering the People As We Build A Better Ghana," having empowered people to build a better Ghana, its only proper to come together to complete the building of a Better Ghana.
During the fair, all Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies in Greater Accra Region were brought together under one roof to provide a one-stop access to the general public.
This means the event provided an avenue for people to interact freely with Ministers of State, Chief Executive Officers of public institutions as well as Chief Directors, Directors and other senior members of these institutions, to offer suggestions, seek information, clarify policy issues and better understand policy and projects initiatives.
It is a universal phenomenon to come across trade fairs, food fairs, book fairs and the likes, which are private sector market-driven affairs opened to people, new products and ideas brought together with a dynamic force that drives development and creates wealth.
Conversely, a policy fair is state-initiated and focuses on what the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MDAs/MMDAs) are doing to reduce poverty among the citizenry and make life worthy for the people.
Examples could be cited as fulfilment of visions 2015 and 2020, the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy (GPRS), National Health Insurance Scheme, free compulsory universal basic education, among others.
Critically viewed in this limelight, a policy fair emphasizes reforms, transformation and improvements in the general livelihood of the people.
The uniqueness of this new concept of Policy fairs lies in the fact that it is government-centred, government- led, government-supported and development-focused.
Such fairs represent government commitment to running an open administration and promoting citizen participation in the public policy making processes.
The Policy Fair was significant in a number of ways.
First, the fair demystifies government and governance.
Its open walk-in nature gives visitors a view insight into what government does.
Answers provided by officials on the stands, throw light on their operations and processes of public decision-making.
If explanations are done well, citizens are able to understand government policy.
This has an added advantage of securing broad public buy-in into government policy.
The platform created by the Dialogue series provides an opportunity for information-sharing and citizen empowerment.
Understanding government policies expands citizens’ knowledge and aid implementation effectiveness.
Second, it is contended that the Policy Fair enhances good governance.
The tenets of good governance revolve around issues of transparency, accountability, equity, participation within the boundaries of the rule of law.
The transparency credentials of the Fair are not in doubt.
It has opened up the policy process of government to citizens.
The fair instituted in 2010, has become one of the surest avenue through which Government provides Ghanaians with inalienable access to information, regarding the discharge of its responsibilities to the people and also bring governance to the door steps of the ordinary Ghanaians in a bid to make real the ‘Better Ghana Agenda’ by the government.
The achievements of the President John Evans Atta Mills' Government in all sectors of the economy within the short period in office has not come about by accident, but as a result of the implementation of well thought out policies and programmes.
Bearing in mind the achievements of Government agencies at the previous years’ policy fairs and the promise of even greater strides, the gallant strides made by these agencies would be put on display.
The distribution of projects as seen at such fairs gives an indication of how government is promoting an equitable sharing of the national cake.
Perhaps we may also argue that the Policy Fair offers a significant chance for policy analysts to interrogate national commitment to policy consistency.
The first-ever national policy fair, which spanned the period April 27 to May 1, 2010, organized under the theme "Engaging the Citizenry for a Better Ghana", involved an exhibition of projects, programmes and activities of the government Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as well as Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) in addition to some non-governmental and civil society organizations operating in the areas of poverty reduction in the deprived communities.
Like was said at the opening of this year’s fair, the government is devoted to improving the well-being of the Ghanaian; visible in the good management of the economy, the creation of job opportunities, investment in human resource and infrastructure as well as adherence to a transparent and accountable governance.
It is in the spirit of accountable governance that the government instituted the policy fair to give the public the chance to assess for itself the broad government policy and those specific to the various Departments and Agencies.
This enables our people to seek clarification on most of our government initiatives.
It also creates a very unique and rear opportunity for an effective assessment which will lead to the review of our policy.
Indeed it was also an opportunity for the private sector to gain access to the Ministries, Departments and Agencies and also the Metropolitan, Municipal and District assemblies so as to work out strategies for effective improved partnership.
Gradually but subtly, the Dialogue Session module of the Information Ministry-initiated Policy Fair is emerging as a national platform for intellectual and strategic thinking pageant.
And the quality of speakers and moderators for this year’s event was beyond compare.
The other component of the Fair is Exhibitions by Ministries Departments Agencies (MDA).
Without exaggeration, all the dialogue sessions of the just-ended National Policy Fair –was not only mind-boggling, but titillating, thrilling, exiting, insightful and soul moving!
It was fantastic!
As part of this year’s event the Reverend Dr Sam Kissiedu, President of the Faithful Ministries International, spoke on the topic: “A Healthy Home, a Healthy Nation, ” during the family day and urged parents to spend time with their families especially the children.
The clergyman called for open, frank and fair communication methods in families to make the home a safe haven.
For the first time the policy fair, was dedicated to families in Ghana, a trend which was very new to governance in this country and it was obviously a plus for the government.
The fair, which was adjudged the most patronised with an all-time peak attendance of 7,000 visitors at the opening and 3,000 each day, was organised by the Ministry of Information
It is believed that from the success story being told after the fair, we have realised the giant strides made in ensuring a Better Ghana for all.
Meanwhile, the next Policy Fair is slated for Sunyani on Tuesday May 2, 2012.
By Robert Tagoe