Implementation, not policies the problem - Analysts

Labour Analyst Herbert Jauch

Economist Klaus Schade 

The Government should be wary of being caught up in a vicious cycle where policies are formulated only to be replaced with new ones without attaining the desired effects and outcomes that will lead to the realisation of the planned objectives and consequently to national development.
Policy implementation is generally regarded as the process whereby actions are taken to execute some specific plans in order to accomplish some objectives, produce some results that will fulfil some targets and consequently solve some problems.
Analysts cautioned that bombarding the nation with different type of policies with the same objectives will not solve pressing national issues such as poverty, as government needs to analyse current policies and fix loopholes before introducing new policies.
Namibia has adapted a number of policies aimed at socio-economic development such as the Harambee Prosperity Plan (HPP), National Development Plans (NDP), New Equitable Economic Empowerment Framework (NEEEF) and Targeted Intervention Programme for Employment and Economic Growth TIPEEG, with the majorly targeting job creation and poverty reduction.
Labour Analyst, Herbert Jauch, noted critical reflection is needed to identify the shortcomings in successful policy implementation and concrete strategies should be put in place on how to rectify them where inadequacies are found.
Jauch stated that each policy needs a coherent implementation strategy and the political will to make things happen, adding that otherwise policy documents are merely decorating the shelves of government administrators and will have little relevance for the majority of the population.
“Loopholes may differ from policy to policy. Some general trends are poor capacity by ministries to implement policies and the lack of urgency in the implementation process. Even in cases where a government policy is accompanied by an implementation and monitoring plan, ministries seem to struggle to implement effectively.  This state of affair raises questions about the ability to implement by various ministries, about the competencies of the responsible leaders and about the political will to really make a difference,” Jauch told The Villager.
A dynamic and motivated bureaucracy is essential for the implementation of developmental policies, Jauch said, adding that the Harambee Prosperity Plan did not signal a new direction or a new approach towards development challenges and that it basically operates within the same framework as other development plans.
In terms of its conceptual outlines and the proposed interventions, the HPP is a variation of previous plans and policies but does not present anything fundamentally new, Jauch said. Commenting on progress made by the NDP4, which is slated to be replaced by the NDP5 next year, Jauch said that the previous presidential economic advisory council did some assessment of the NDP4 and found that only a few areas achieved the expected results while in most areas the NDP4’s aims were not or only partially met.
“Policies are merely instruments to guide government action. They are an important tool to outline the overall direction of government interventions but in themselves will not change the concrete conditions unless they are accompanied by a systematic strategy to effect implementation.  In our case it seems that sometimes policies are regarded as an end in themselves and little attention is paid to implementation and monitoring of the policy. This then results in policies becoming wish lists and political pronouncements without improving the actual conditions,” Jauch voiced.
Jauch also noted that policies need to be coherent and be directed towards specific and strategic long-term objectives.
“These are supposed to be outlined in the NDPs while specific ministerial policies are meant to support the overall objectives.  In this area there seems to be a disconnection and a lack of policy coordination which is worsening the challenge of implementation,” he said.
However, Jauch said one must be careful not to generalise too much as there might be areas where government policies were implemented with some success although the general impression is that there is a gap between the intended and the actual implementation.  Jauch made an example of the sanitation policy which has seen extremely slow progress despite it being a fairly progressive policy document.
Meanwhile, Klaus Schade, Executive of the Economic Association of Namibia (EAN), said that policies should be medium to long term, adding that importance should be put in the design of implementable policies that are backed up by strategies with measurable output and outcome indicators.
“The impact of the strategies needs to be monitored and evaluated and if the strategies do not lead to the intended results (output, outcome) then they need to be adjusted or even terminated. By doing this, more emphasis is now placed on monitoring and evaluation of policy implementation than in the past,” Schade noted.
This, he said, requires to develop capacities in the areas of monitoring and evaluation further.