Mr. Speaker, macro stability in this
country now is taken for granted. I remember the period before 2000, one of the favourite pasttimes of trotro and taxi passengers and indeed drivers in general was to look at the notice boards of the forex bureaus, because it was fasci-nating to observe how the cedi was changing by the hour.
Today, nobody looks at the notice boards any more. In fact, according to my friend, the notice boards are not even there any more [Interruptions.] So this is a very tangible evidence of the kinds of progress that we have made in the last couple of years.
Mr. Speaker, we are getting kudos; we are getting praises; we are getting acknowledgement from all over the world for the efforts that we have made. And we are not only getting praises, Mr. Speaker, there are also tangible benefits that are coming our way as a result of the good work that we have done.
Talk about the (B+) credit rating, talk about best reforming country in Africa, talk about the multilateral debt relief, talk about the quantum jump in remittances from Ghanaians abroad, talk about the special invitations we get to all the G8 summits to present our case and to present the case of Africa, talk about the Millennium Challenge Account, talk about the Euro Bond issue and the oversubscription -- All of these are tangible benefits that we are getting as a result of the hard work that we have done and the results that we are getting in the last couple of years.
Mr. Speaker, as if all these were not enough, Allah himself has bestowed favour on us and now after years of toil, we have discovered oil in commercial and
significant quantities. [Hear! Hear!] So it looks like the very heavens themselves are smiling on us and we should be grateful, we should pat ourselves on the shoulders and together move forward to achieve more.
But Mr. Speaker, of course, there are others who would say that all these benefits and all this progress do not reflect in our pockets. We hear people say that all the time.
Mr. Speaker, of course, there are difficulties; and we admit there are still difficulties. We are a poor country so we would face difficulties. We know that in proportional terms, population growth is still way ahead of the economic growth. We know that we still have to bring inflation down to single digit. We know that there are still deficits in the provision of education, in the provision of infrastructure, in housing, in water and electricity.
We know that the minimum wage, as we have it now, is not exactly a living wage but Mr. Speaker, whilst we acknowledge these difficulties, when we do an objective assessment, all of us will agree that in relative terms, compared to the period before 2001, our domestic and social economic conditions have seen dramatic and significant progress. The gains in the macro economy and the general good governance reflects in our pockets in many ways that they must acknowledge.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at direct government spending on poverty, it is 26 per cent of total expenditure. Twenty-six per cent of total expenditure go into direct poverty spending spread over education, health, agriculture, water, housing, feeder roads, energy, rural housing and social welfare. Twenty-six per cent of total
government spending going directly into poverty alleviation is a very good result; it is a very good proportion and we should acknowledge that.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at the Ghana Living Standards Survey (GLSS) published by the Ghana Statistical Service that measures our progress in welfare and poverty reduction over a ten-year period from 1995 - 2005, you would find that on the balance, they have done well.
If you look at the result, Mr. Speaker, and you look at the proportion of the Ghanaian population in poverty, the survey says that the proportion of Ghanaians in poverty was 40 per cent in the year 1998 to 1999. Just six years later, in 2005, the proportion of Ghanaians living in poverty has fallen from 40 per cent to 29 per cent in six years.
Mr. Speaker, if you take the rural poor, in 1998-99, the proportion of rural people living in poverty was 50 per cent. As we speak, in 2005-2006, the proportion of rural people living in poverty has reduced from 50 per cent to 39 per cent. Even the proportion of Ghanaians in extreme poverty was 27 per cent in 1998 - 99. Today, seven years later, the proportion of Ghanaians living in extreme poverty has reduced from 27 per cent to 18 per cent.
Mr. Speaker, we have become the African country that is on course in achieving the Millennium Development Goal of halving extreme poverty by 2015. We have done it in 2005 -- ten clear years before the target date.
Mr. Speaker, if you look at gross enrolment ratio at the primary basic school, in the year 2000, gross enrolment ratio was 75 per cent. As we speak, gross enrolment ratio in primary school is 94 per cent over a five-year period. Pupil-teacher