Policy involves a formal government structure. Policy can

Policy is everywhere. It controls what we buy, where, what we eat, how much we may, transportation. The environment, sports, everything. Its application and effect demonstrate what makes policy so important ( Dye,2004). Policy is about the people. Policy outlines our socially accepted norms and practices to assure some form of predictability in the allocation of scarce resources so we can all contribute towards a social outcome. For examples, a school sets a dress code (school uniform). Note that only one of these involves a formal government structure. Policy can be defined in many ways depending on its application. An overarching definition can be defined as follows: Policy: a course or principle of action adopted or proposed by a government, party, business, or individual (Dye, 2005). No unity can be found on a specific definition of public policy. Public policy can be described as the overall framework within which government actions are undertaken to achieve public goals. However, despite the diverse perception of public policy, many scholars have attempted to describe public policy from different angles
According to Dye’s (2004), public policy is whatever government’s choose to do or not to do. Similarly Lineberry (1977) says “it is what governments do and fail to do for their citizens”. In these definitions there is divergence between what governments decide to do and what they actually do. Broadly speaking, public policies are governmental decisions which are usually the result of activities which the government undertakes in pursuance of certain goals and objectives. Public policies are goal-oriented and clearly spell out the programmes of government. During the floods in the lower shire in 2014, the government of Malawi choose to take an action by sending aircraft to rescue people who were in danger of being taken away by water, therefore if the government choose to do nothing it could have ended in disastrous situation. However the government may choose to do nothing to prosecute the police officers after shooting innocent civilians.
Furthermore, Public policy is the broad framework of ideas and values within which decisions are taken and actions, or inaction, is pursued by governments in relation to some issue or problem (Brooks, 1989:16). For example, after seeing the influence of donors in Malawi, Bingu Wa Muthalika came up with the idea of solving the problem of relying too much on donors. The country could not develop because of the borrowings and receiving but to come up with a policy. Therefore, the president introduces the policy of zero deficit budget to fight poverty and to develop the country. The actions which government of Malawi took in the era of Bingu Wa Muthalika to stop influence of donors. The policy on poverty reduction which encourages the Malawian to be productive, for example the introduction of technical colleges in districts. The introduction of zero deficit budget by Muthalika put Malawi on a map because within a short period of time Malawi moved to another level of development.
Besides that, public policies are governmental decisions, and are actually the result of activities which the government carry out in achievement of certain goals and objectives (Dunn, 2009). It can also be said that public policy formulation and implementation involves a well-planned pattern or course of activity as it requires a thoroughly close knit relation and interaction flanked by the significant governmental agencies such as the political executive, legislature, bureaucracy, and judiciary. For example, the vision 2020 program is regarded as a policy were the government of Malawi want to achieve poverty reduction.
Daneke and Steiss (1978),defined public policy as a broad guide to present and future decisions, selected in light of given conditions from a number of alternatives; the actual decision or set of decisions designed to carry out the chosen course of actions; a projected program consisting of desired objectives (goal) and the means of achieving them. For example, the ban of alcohol sachets in malawi,like riders, kadansana etc. the policy was implemented and formulated for significant impact on the healthy and the welfare of the population,( world healthy organisation,2013).
Moreover, public policy as an authoritative response to a public issue or problem, a policy is intentional (Hogwood, 1984). It means pursuing specific government goals through the application. It means pursuing specific government goals through the application of identified public or private resources, it is about making decisions and testing their consequences. Policy decisions are authoritative as they are made by people with legitimate power in the system of government. For example the phone sim-card registrations in Malawi, it was first addressed in the parliament then it was put into action by the authority.
Further, Public policy is also defined as a set of inter-related decisions taken by a political actor or group of actors concerning the selection of goals and the means of achieving them within a specified situation where those decisions should, in principle, be within the power of those actors to achieve (Jenkins, 1978). This initiate that public policies are goal oriented such that they are formulated and implemented in order to attain the objectives which the government or institution has in view for the vital benefit of the masses in general. These policies clearly spell out the programmes of government. Hence, public policy seeks to achieve a desired goal that is considered to be in the best interest of all members of society. For example, government may formulate and implement policies of access to clean water, good health, high employment, an innovative economy, high educational attainment, decent and affordable housing to its citizens.
Public policy is the outcome of the government’s collective actions. It means that it is a pattern or course of activity or’ the governmental officials and actors in a collective sense than being termed as their distinct and isolated decisions (Dye, 1972). For example, the introduction of free primary school during the era of Dr Bakili Muluzi. This policy helped many Malawians who were failing to pay school fees for their children. Another example, the introduction of fertilizer subsidy for many Malawians who are unable to purchase fertilizer from nine hundred Malawi kwacha to five hundred Malawi kwacha.
In a nut shell, public policies are governmental decisions which are routinely the result of activities which the government assumes in achievement of certain goals and objectives. Additionally, Public policies are goal-oriented and clearly spell out the programmes of government. Policies are the intentionally acknowledged rules of conduct and they always guide administrative decisions. They can also take variety of forms like law, ordinances, court decisions, executive orders etc. Public policy is predominantly a creation of governmental organs. Moreover, Policies are major instruments that are carefully formulated to move the society towards the major goal. In addition to that, different agencies or bodies like political parties, interest groups, intellectuals, legislation, bureaucrats, executives, judiciary etc, participate in public policy making.

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