Mr Speaker, I also rise to lend my voice to wishing the former President the best of everything on the occasion of his 80th birthday.
Mr Speaker, but I think it is important to straighten the records. The Hon Member who made the Statement said to us that in 2008, the GDP growth rate that former President Kufuor bequeathed to the succeeding administration was 8.4 per cent.
Indeed, Mr Speaker, it was 9.1 per cent and not 8.4 per cent. The GDP growth rate was 9.1 per cent in a non-oil economy.
Mr Speaker, when President Kufuor assumed the reigns of government, the then preceding government under President J. J. Rawlings had indeed conformed to the constitutional imperative in article 38 (2) of the Constitution which provides that:
“The Government shall, within two years after Parliament first meets after the coming into force of this Constitution, draw up a programme for implementation within the following ten years, for the provision of free, compulsory and universal basic education.”
President Rawlings had indeed done the formulation of the programme. The implementation of Free Compulsory, and Universal Basic Education (FCUBE) started in 2001 under President Kufuor. As I said, it was predicated on what President Rawlings had done but the real implementation started in 2001.
Mr Speaker, President Kufuor there- after realised the need to deepen the programme and that is how come he introduced the Capitation Grant.
Then also, following after that, the free buses to ferry school children from their locations to the schools where they were to learn. Again, after that, as a way of deepening FCUBE, he then introduced the school feeding concept.
Mr Speaker, the Ghana Education Trust Fund (GETFund) had been introduced, and the law that established it had been done. President Kufuor used the allocation that went to GETFund to expand the infrastructure of schools in a way that had not been seen before over the preceding 20 years. It was thanks to the vehicle of the GETFund.
Mr Speaker, it was President Kufuor who started identifying and tackling the menace of schools under trees in the year 2007, and continued in the year 2008. Within the two years, they had identified 800 of such schools, and had started construction. It is true that none of them could be finished in the year 2008. In the year 2009, the first ones got completed and were commissioned.
Mr Speaker, we have just heard from my Hon Colleague that President Kufuor opted for human centeredness in his approach to governance. That explains why he introduced the various social interventions and measures like the National Health Insurance Scheme (NHIS)and the Livelihood Empowerment Against Poverty (LEAP) programme.
He was also concerned with physical infrastructure as well. It was under the watch of President Kufuor that the road network of this country increased from 39,000 kilometres to 69,000 kilometres. It is unprecedented anywhere.
That has been further improved by the succeeding Administration, which took it from 69,000 to 74,000 kilometres. [Interruption.] What I said is, indeed, the truth and it is borne by the Ministry of Roads and Transport.
Mr Speaker, the former Minister -- we have had the occasion to debate this matter in this House. I am surprised that today he says that it is not true. Of course, he did not speak to the microphone, so I would not want to go on that trajectory.
Mr Speaker, the former President also initiated measures to boost cocoa production in the country. He met the production of cocoa at 350,000 metric tonnes. The measures that he initiated -- he himself said to us, as a country, that by the year 2011, the country would be able to produce one million metric tonnes of cocoa.
At the time he left, cocoa production had increased from 350,000 to beyond 730,000 metric tonnes, which is more than double the figure that he met. Indeed, lo and behold, in the year 2011, we were then able to increase from 734,000 metric tonnes to one million metric tonnes.
It is a tragedy that we have not been able to maintain the production level at one million metric tonnes, but we have kept declining from one million metric tonnes until we got to about 695,000 metric tonnes in the year 2017.
Let us hope to God that the measures that are being undertaken by the current Hon Minister for Agriculture and, indeed, the Ghana Cocoa Board, would be able to reposition the country and elevate the production of cocoa.
We however, all know that whenever the production of cocoa increased, unfortunately, it adversely affects our farmers because it leads to a glut in the world market and the prices of cocoa decline.
We hope that with the value addition that we would want to do to the cocoa beans in the country, we would, together