what she is proposing will make us even more united.
Deputy Minister for Manpower,
Youth and Employment (Mrs. Akosua Frema Osei-Opare): Mr. Speaker, thank you very much for this opportunity to contribute to this very important motion.
Mr. Speaker, the issue of poverty alleviation has been given a very special focus in the 2007 Budget. Ghana adopted the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) in 2002 and we must advance towards achieving these MDGs. Achieving the MDGs should be recognized as a very important step towards reaching the middle-income status by 2015.
Mr. Speaker, the GPRS II recognizes that to promote growth we must address vulnerability and exclusion among our population. To this end, the Ministry of Manpower, Youth and Employment is charged with the responsibility to develop a national social protection strategy. Mr. Speaker, social protection is a broad concept, which embraces both contributory and non-contributory programme for long-term assistance to address the root causes of poverty,
vulnerability and exclusions.
Mr. Speaker, the 2007 Budget reinforces the continuation of a number of existing social protection measures such as child protection, capitation grant, school feeding, the National Health Insurance Scheme, micro-finance schemes for the poor, and skills training, amongst others. But I would like to draw special attention to page 162, item 730, and to a programme dubbed the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP), which is an innovative complement to existing social protection measures to improve the livelihoods of the extreme poor and the vulnerable in our society.
Mr. Speaker, the introduction of LEAP is to ensure that economic growth has a trickle-down effect and that we improve the ability of the very, very poor to contribute to economic and social development.
LEAP, as envisaged in the Budget Statement, is a social grant programme which will target pro-gressively some specific groups of vulnerable people in our society, such as orphans and vulnerable children, the poor and aged, persons with disability who are severely incapacitated, the extremely poor, the vulnerable, particularly those subsistence farmers who are dubbed as the very poor in this country and people such as lactating mothers who have HIV/AIDS.
Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of benefits that can be derived from LEAP, which if we look at, would improve the incomes of poor people which would lead to investing more in education, health and so on. But most importantly, we must recognize that by improving the incomes of poor people they tend to boost the local economy. Particularly, by the fact that poor people tend to buy local goods and services at
the district level, community level, you can see that economic activities will be boosted.
Mr. Speaker, I would like to say that LEAP also has another value, the value is that, it will enhance the impact of the current economic enhancement programme such as micro-finance. Because when poor people are given loans and they have limited capacity to address their basic needs, the tendency will be to spend a good portion of the money on meeting such needs as health, food, water and so on.
But with these kinds of programmes such as social grants programmes -- It relieves them of those responsibilities in such a way that they can use loans that have been granted them to invest in productive ventures, thereby helping them to leap out of poverty by improving their incomes.
Mr. Speaker, I would like also to draw attention to the fact that the 2007 Budget has given further support to the National Youth Employment Programme (NYEP), which is another pragmatic social protection measure for the youth in this country. The NYEP offers a unique opportunity for vulnerable youth to gain skills, work experience as well as establish their own enterprises. This will no doubt contribute to reducing the incidence of poverty in our country.
The enthusiasm that this programme has generated among the youth and the population at large is a testimony to its relevance, its appropriateness and therefore the need to commend Government for its continuous financial allocations in the 2007 Budget.
With these few words, I will urge all hon. Colleagues to support the motion to approve the Financial Policy of the Government for the fiscal year ending 31st December, 2007.
Alhaji Seidu Amadu (NDC -- Yapei/
Kusawgu): Mr. Speaker, I rise to speak in support of the motion to approve the Government's Financial Policy for the fiscal year ending 31st December 2007. Mr. Speaker, I intend to limit my contribution to two main areas concerning the Ministry of Transportation and Ministry of Water Resources, Works and Housing.
Mr. Speaker, the main thrust of government policy in respect of provision of road transport is to provide national accessibility. In other words, every Ghanaian living everywhere is entitled to have access to road communication. Incidentally, Mr. Speaker, if one looks at our budgets over the years, road development has become skewed in this country not because the Government wants it that way but because of certain other factors that nobody can challenge.
Mr. Speaker, if one looks at the cocoa rehabilitation project, the road component of this programme, including the road component of stabex, if you are not a cocoa-growing region, a cocoa-growing district, obviously you would not benefit from such facility.
So one realizes that when it comes to those projects those in the cocoa-growing areas get more. And in this country only six regions produce cocoa, the other four regions, Greater Accra, Northern, Upper West and Upper East Regions are totally out of this. Even those who produce cocoa, including the all-famous Western Region -- There are certain parts of the Western Region that cocoa cannot be grown, the land is not suitable for it. In the Ashanti Region there are certain parts where cocoa is not grown -- Brong Ahafo and Eastern Region, the same thing applies too.
So I would want to plead with the Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning and the relevant Ministry to ensure that when it comes to road development those that benefit from these special projects should be considered alongside those who do not benefit from this special project by way of using more resources from the Consolidated Fund to take care of them.
Mr. Speaker, if we look at our bilateral donor partners like Department for International Development (DFID), Danish International Development Agency (DANIDA), Kreditanstalt fur Wiederaufbau (KFW), Gesellschaft fur Technische Zusammenarbeit (GTZ) and whatever, they all have their interest in this country and specifically want to invest in these areas, with Government being helpless in that regard. So the resources that we control, I want to plead that a lot more of those resources should be used to take care of those other disadvantaged districts and regions.
Mr. Speaker, having said this, I want to get to specific issues.
Mr. Speaker, at page 120 of the Budget Statement, paragraph 539 (iv), there is a Government programme on the provision of weighbridges. Here, we are told that Ghana Highway Authority has installed five weighbridges at the Tema Port and two weighbridges at Takoradi.
Mr. Speaker, in the same Statement, paragraph 605, that is page 139, the Ghana Ports and Harbours Authority (GPHA) is also telling us they have also installed weighbridges at both ports, that is Tema and Takoradi. Mr. Speaker, I want to find out whether the two Ministries are talking about the same project or these are two different projects. If they are the same project, I want to say that they are complete waste of resources because they are a duplication of efforts and financial
loss to the country.