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GHC 1.5bn Allocation to Presidency: a critical analysis by the CEO of Projects Bureau GH Ltd

The new government announced, in its 2017 budget statement that, it has made provision of GHC1.56bn to cover the operations of what has been described as the “Office of Government Machinery”.

 Last year, the same office received a budget allocation of the GHC500m, though they ended up spending far more in excess of that amount. The argument put forward by government to support the allocation of such a colossal amount when most Departments and Agencies of government have experienced major budget cuts have been both interesting and somewhat confusing. They argue that, out of the budgeted GHC1.5bn, only GHc500m will go directly to the Office of the President to cater for the President, his travels, staff, including Ministers of State and their operational expenses. They say the budgeted GHC500m is GHC200m less than what was budgeted for that office in 2016. Easy to understand and makes sense, no?

The remaining GH1bn is to be used in the execution/support the execution of the government’s special projects such as the “Zongo Development Fund”, “One-Village-One-Dam” project as well as the “One-District-One Factory” Policy. People questioned the rational and sense in proposing a budget of GHC1bn for those projects when there has not been any plan made available them.

True, as of now, when have yet to be told exactly how, where and which time frame the government intends to implement those projects. We do not even know the exact cost of a model factory and which District is receiving which factory or which village is receiving which size of dam at what cost.

 People have argued that those basic questions, at least, should have been answered before the budget was read/ finalized. Though proponents of this school of thought have valid points and seem to have raised genuine concerns, I do not entirely agree with their submissions.

Is it entirely wrong to make resource provisions/allocations for projects even when there are no detailed plans available? Well, in Project Management, when an organization or a Project Manager is faced with delivering a very complex project within a limited time frame and but has little or no information on how to deliver such a project because of, but not limited to, any or all of the following:

• Urgent need or demand/Emergency
• Lack of historical records in the form of learned lessons or execution manuals because the project has never been attempted before
• Lack of the needed expertise or knowledge in executing that particular project

Project managers are allowed to adopt a practice of planning/execution called ROLLING WAVE. ROLLING WAVE is a form of another technique in Project Management called PROGRESSIVE ELABORATION which simply implies the planning and execution of a project based on high level assumptions and information and progressively planning in detail as you get familiar with the project or further information or knowledge is advanced or made known in the area. With this strategy, any project, however the magnitude, can be planned, properly monitored and executed over time.

Whenever this strategy is used however, it always must be backed by solid plans on how to continuously improve on the high level plans. There must be multiple counter plans on how to plan a new plan should the initial plan fail, etc.

It must also be supported by the presence of a highly skilled, highly qualified, highly resourced and highly motivated team.

When the Americans wanted to enter space for the first time, they had no prior experience, no account /records to rely on, etc. but they started from what they knew, generalized it and progressively elaborated until, through trial and error, planned, revised their plans, developed counter plans until they managed to find their way successfully to space.

Now it is easy for America and many other countries to send men to space because they have gained a lot of experience and there are a lot of materials and experience, both institutional and individual, to rely and consult on.So back to our situation, I suppose that is the approach government intends to deploy; to progressively elaborate and continuously improve and develop detailed plans even as these projects progress over time.

Feasibility studies alone, stakeholder consultations, the siting of the factories and dams and their accompanying plans alone can take several months, if not years to complete. The “wrong” siting of a factory alone is enough grounds to create the next tribal conflict or cause massive disaffection towards the ruling government (you know what I mean).

Without a grand plan on how to plan and successfully implement the many other plans and details needed to implement those projects, I’m afraid we might just be fallowing the grounds and rather preparing to harvest baskets full of modified and intensified versions (GMO version) of SADA, GYEEDA, NYEP fruits!  In any case, the show of good intent toward a project and the subsequent capturing of that project in a budget alone are not enough grounds to ensure the successful realization of that project.

 

Project Management goes beyond that; the needed funds must be released on time and there must be strong political will on the part of government, backed by sound local economic, social and political data gathered directly from the grass root and some cooked up stuff from some guys up the chain of political command.  Funds must not in any way be diverted to sponsor political campaigns, projects or initiatives which do not fall within the scope of the earmarked funds.

For instance, in 2008, when a loan agreement of $525 million was secured from Brazil to construct the Pwalugu Multi-Purpose Dam, a SADA initiate, our government diverted the funds to complete part of the Eastern Corridor roads. The SADA project was abandoned, would-have-been beneficiaries have been made poorer and the funds, sacrificed on the altar of political expediency. According to SADA, they would need a total of $700million to complete such a much needed project.

Though from where I sit, I do not, in all sincerity and honesty, see how that this government or any other, will be able to complete the construction of dams even in villages in just the three regions of the North or build factories in every District in Ghana within a period of four years, there must be an attempt and a clear plan to execute such a projects over a period of time.

The government must hire/attract the right professionals with the right attitude and spirit, resource them and also engage the right stakeholders. There must be teams and cross-teams scattered across the Districts who have the know-how and the will to see the projects through. No one man can sit in his/her office in Accra or even a regional capital and successfully seethe implementation of these projects; it is impossible!

All the proposed projects by government are achievable with the right plans, personnel and mentality. After all, Rome was not built in a day but daily and a journey of a thousand miles begins with one bold step forward!

By: Habbakku Nana Amakye Otabil, CEO of Project Bureau Ghana Limited.
ahotoronline.com|Ghana

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