from district to district, I am simply saying that in one of the reports, which I believe he played a lead role in preparing, the Economic Dialogue Report, he himself indicated that a review of the expenditure framework does not give an indication that most poverty or deprived regions are beneficiary to those expenditures; and I am simply suggesting that.
Mr. Speaker, if you take Ghana as a country, we are saying that even though the national poverty rate is 32 per cent, the incidence vary from region to region, from district to district but the most pervasive regions which reflect in their districts are the Northern, Upper East, Upper West and the Central Regions of Ghana. I am simply suggesting to this House that in implementing this loan facility, let us give special focus and special attention to addressing the poverty in the most deprived regions of Ghana with a view to bridging the gap.
Indeed, part of the Millennium Development Goal - We have pledged as a country to half poverty and to ensure that many Ghanaians live above a dollar a day. I would hesitate to add that many of our countrymen live below a dollar a day. Indeed, Mr. Speaker, I was making reference to a document to guide the discussion. Mr. Speaker, if you take malnutrition, for instance, it is on the increase, especially in the Greater Accra and Eastern Regions as well as other regions not even to mention the three northern regions where poverty is visible.
Malnutrition is an indicator of poverty. Indeed, by their own statistics, Mr. Speaker, child malnutrition as at 2003 now stands at 35.8 per cent. It means that there is something wrong; it means that many of the Ghanaian children are underweight because they do not have
access to nutritious food.
Mr. Speake r, i f you l ook a t unemployment, we should seek to address the problem of unemployment with a loan facility of this nature by enhancing the private sector which should be able to create more job opportunities, especially for young people in this country. If you have unemployment on the rise and yet you pride yourself that there have been improvements in macro economic indices - Mr. Speaker, nobody is doubting Government's efforts.
Especially since 2001 GDP growth has increased from 4.5 per cent to 5.2 per cent to 5.8 per cent respectively from 2002 up to 2004, but we are saying that it does not manifest in an improvement in the standard of living of our people. If you take road infrastructure for instance, it is skewedly distributed. There are some regions which have benefited immensely from road construction yet the regions of which we say poverty is high like in the Upper West Region, as we were told by hon. Edward Salia, they do not have their fair share. How would we be addressing poverty if we do not open up the road infrastructure of this country.
Mr. Speaker, another indicator is health care. Access to health care is still problematic in this country, and as I rise to support this motion, I am simply saying that, let us target two core areas - improvement in education, especially ensuring that the Free Compulsory Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) becomes a reality. I am saying this because that is part of the commitment we made to the Millenium Development Goal.
Mr. Speaker, the hon. Minister for Finance and Economic Planning is here. My concluding note is that we need to
strengthen the relationship especially in the target between the GPRS, the Millennium Development Goal and then expenditure allocation to the various sectors of the economy.
With this, Mr. Speaker, I support the motion for the approval of this loan facility and believe that the Ministry, working in tandem with other sector Ministries, will give special attention to the nation's most deprived regions in addressing poverty. If we have improvement in the poverty levels in Greater Accra and Eastern Regions, that of the north still remains a gap that is widening backwards, it does not do us any good. Our commitment must be that we want to half poverty, we must ensure that many Ghanaians have access to education and improved health care.
With this, Mr. Speaker, I support the motion.