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Opinions Sun, 20 Sep 2009

Food And Drug Board – Ashanti Regional Zone

: A Case Of Bureaucratic Exellence

Talk to any relative who is a resident overseas especially Europe and USA, and they all express fear of bureaucratic corruption and unfriendly government private business policy, as the reason for not investing in Ghana.

As a resident of USA for several years and president of Ghanaian community in New Jersey (2000 – 2004), when I decided to come back home to invest, Ghanaians directly and indirectly expressed “wait and see”. I know some are waiting to say, “I told you so” When I could not stay in Ghana.

For two years I have invested in pharmacy, hospitality, and water treatment. Businesses. I have had contact with over twenty government agencies during my business registration and agency implementation of government policies. I will not rank or comment on practice of these agencies and pray I will never have to deal with them anymore but they are the government monitoring agents and unfortunately avoiding them is impossible.

But all is not dark. There is a spark of brightness in one agency, Food and Drugs Board – Ashanti Zone.

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As a teacher of Public Administration in USA, I will classify Food and Drugs Board as a textbook example of effective professional technocrats, a role model agency.

It is obvious that this agency has no control of administrative instrument that they have to implement, but the staff will have patience to explain the process in details and in a language one could understand. They are always supportive.

As you enter their office you would be welcomed with friendly staff in cool environment with adequate seating and reading materials. Within few minutes, your file is retrieved and a professional staff at your disposal. (You don’t have to pay a messenger to retrieve your file. What a change!!!!!)

As mentioned, even though some policies will be unreasonable, the staff will show you why it necessary and they will help you go about it.

On the inspection of the site, the staff is very professional and non-threatening. Their suggestions are very educative and encouraging, and best of all they are always on time for their appointment and completion of report.

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Another unique work pattern about this agency is that all the staff is knowledgeable and consistent on the administrative policy and always someone is available to help a client.

I have seen similar professional approach on other clients and further investigation about this Agency has been very positive. To a Diaspora this seems implicit but in Ghana civil service, where you have to pay to retrieve your file; where ownership of a license sent to Accra takes over two years; where appointment to meet the director is given in weeks but you show up and he is in Accre; where you are told ‘ I wll see the director for you’ where you have to go to specific doctor or laboratory of an agency to get a signature before action is taken on your file; then one will realize that the Food and Drug Board (Ashanti Region Zone) is a jewel of Ghana Government civil service bureaucratic practice.

I will therefore grade the agency with an ‘B+’ a very rare grade given to good performance in my professional career as a teacher.

James Nkatia-Kumi

Business Consultant Kumasi

Columnist: Nkatia-Kumi, James