Mr. Speaker, I am raising this because the kind of debt that Government is inheriting imposes fundamental economic difficulties when it comes to servicing the debt. I will just share one example. For instance, you borrow US$750 million Euro bond at US$8.5 million per annum, and Government will be required to pay not less than US$60 million to service that debt. Whether this Government has the resources or not, it must look for the money. That is why I am saying that we should not do politics with the economy of Ghana.
Mr. Speaker, may I refer you to page 4 now of His Excellency's Address and in particular to state how encouraged I was when I heard His Excellency make a commitment to the building of viable institutions. And Mr. Speaker, with your permission, may I quote pages 3 and 4 of His Excellency's Address.
“Our 1992 Constitution established a number of institutions to foster effective balance of powers, provide ample expression for the repre- sentatives of people, guarantee access to Justice, Human Rights, Independence of the media and the right of the citizens to be empowered with knowledge about civic education.”
He was talking about institutions such as Commission on Human Rights and
Administrative Justice (CHRAJ) and National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE). Mr. Speaker, may I further refer you back to 2001 what His Excellency Mr. J. A. Kufuor said about institutions so that I can build my point on it. And with your permission I am quoting from page 4, what Mr. J. A. Kufuor, then President said.
“The greatest challenge that faces our young democracy is the fragility of the institutions that are needed to uphold the constitutional structure.”
Eight years down the line, this statement of His Excellency President Mills indicates that those institutions are not yet in the state that we all desire of them. [Interruptions.] And that it is important that we commend him because our democracy will not succeed if we do not strengthen our state institutions and make them much more accountable to the people of Ghana.
It is also significant that His Excellency recognized that we have to deepen -- I am aware that under the previous Administration, in nominal terms there were improvements in allocation to these institutions. But what President Mills promises is to do a peer review of the institutions so that they themselves define for us what they consider as their problems, then Government will confront it head on in order that we will have very viable and efficient institutions to deliver to safeguard our democratic evolution. Mr. Speaker, this deserves commendation.
May I finally also refer you to His Excellency's statement on page 4 on his quest to fight corruption. Mr. Speaker, I was very, very encouraged because I have looked through 2001 and 2002 State of the Nation Addresses, there was always promise to put into law the Freedom of Information Bill.
His Excellency did not mince words in assuring this House that as part of his commitment which is captured in Agenda for a Better Ghana, the manifesto of the National Democratic Congress (NDC) which, we are told we can debate, a major thematic area of Prof. Mills's pledge was to run an open and a transparent Government.
In order to give meaning to it, Government is committed to the passage of the Freedom of Information Bill into law and apart from it, Government is further committed to a review of the current assets declaration regime in order to allow for monitoring. So that declarations that are made can be compared against assets acquired in the period, so that those who may acquire assets that are not commensurate to their earnings can be called to answer. It is a commitment that Government made that it will do.
Government is also committed to a review of the Whistle Blower Act, particularly, the sanctions and the rewards under it and the moral authority of involving chiefs as persons to which people can give information. That is also part of the quest of Government to strengthen and deepen the fight against corruption. Mr. Speaker, what corruption hates is darkness and Government is committed to making corruption a high risk activity by considering this legislation.
May I continue with some specifics on the Ministry of Communications that Government in the course of the year, as the President indicated, will expand access to fixed and mobile telephony in every part of our country. [Hear! Hear!] Indeed, for us, it is not the pleasurable use of mobile phones; it is not about its social benefits; it is about its economic productive gains.
We can use ICT as a platform to reduce the cost of doing business. If you look at tele-density which you have achieved around 50 per cent today, Mr. Speaker, it is largely an urban phenomenal. Many of our rural communities are yet to benefit from access to this telephony and it is a commitment that governments make.
May I finally end with a pledge on Aveyime Rice Project and to remind our Colleagues on the other side that a few years ago, it was unacceptable to have an import purse of hundred million US dollars spent on rice importation. At the time of leaving office this was around the region of US$400. Quite clearly, this cannot be acceptable. It is our commitment as part of His Excellency's commitment to use the private sector; we will modernize agriculture, encourage the growth of indigenous businesses and encourage the production of locally produced rice.
I thank you for the opportunity, Mr. Speaker.