Thank you, Hon
Dr. Opoku M. Prempeh (NPP --
Manhyia): Thank you, Madam Speaker. I will thank the Hon Member for Anlo for making such a good contribution,
and my own brother, the Hon Member of Parliament for Asawase. I think he knows I support what he is saying.
Madam Speaker, in 1990, the level of poverty in Ghana was around 50 per cent. In 2001, it was around 48 per cent. In 2005, it was estimated to be around 25 per cent. That has been because of targeted government effect and directed government effort at reducing poverty, not lip-service, Madam Speaker.
By 2005 Ghana had already reduced her poverty level from 1990, specifically by the introduction of specific programmes aimed at the poor like the Livelihood Empowerment Project, like the School Feeding Programme that has brought about primary school gender parity -- for the first time in this country.
Madam Speaker, on the National Health Insurance Scheme system that my Brother from Asawase was saying, I agree with him on a lot of points but he must agree that in our quest to develop, some will get there before others. That should not be a bad thing. So if our mothers are getting free maternal health -- we both share the same hospital in Manhyia, which is now overflowing with pregnant women -- thank God that the Government will have resources to even improve the facilities in Manhyia for our mothers to have free maternal health care there.
It is not the best to be attended to by the traditional birth attendants. But when I was born, I was circumscised by a wanzam who lived in his community. It does not mean that the wanzam is the best thing that should ever happen in this country.
Madam Speaker, under the National Health Insurance Scheme, those over the age of 70 years and under l8 years are being treated free. Thank God for
that, but my problem is that we have a new Government that should extend the frontiers of the health delivery system in our country. As he said, if you have your card and there is no hospital facility, what is the worth of the card?
So, when I looked in the Government's Budget, this year's Budget and I found that from Bolgatanga right down to Weija, they are supposed to provide hospitals and up till this time, we have not heard even of a sod-cutting ceremony, then I get worried. When the economy has grown from 3.75 per cent in 2001 to 7.3 per cent in 2008, definitely, poverty is being reduced. When we then come to find that the estimates for this year is 5.9 and the World Bank is even saying that it is going to be 4.5, you and I must get worried. Are we moving forward or are we coming backwards -- [Hear! Hear!] That is what we have to think about.
Madam Speaker, I thank my Hon Friend for making such a contribution. Free school uniforms, yes, is a way of reducing poverty but extending school feeding to all schools probably will reduce poverty more than free school uniforms. That is what we have to think about in this country and that is why Parliament must assert itself; the Executive only should not determine the direction of develop-ment in this country. Parliament should be the focus of the development direction in this country.
Madam Speaker, I wish and pray that Ghana as we are trying to develop, our crises of leadership that we are finding would be limited. If for the next two, three years, the Government cannot employ people because of multilateral agency donor conditions, then we cannot be reducing poverty in this country.
For the next two years, as the Hon Member said, we have to think about how we are going to reduce poverty. If cocoa farmers in Ghana have to smuggle cocoa across the borders, as my Brother from
Juabeso Bia knows very well because the Government is not giving them a good producer price, we cannot be reducing poverty -- [Interruptions] -- Let me finish, my Brother, I will let him come.