Thank you very much.
Maj. (Dr) (Alhaji) Mustapha Ahmed (retd) (NDC -- Ayawaso North): Thank you very much, Mr Speaker, for the opportunity to contribute to the Motion, that this august House approves the financial policy of the Government for the year ending 31st December, 2013.
Mr Speaker, national budgets are very important, especially as they provide an opportunity for us to take stock as a nation, where we are, where we want to be and how to get there.
Mr Speaker, this discussion, therefore, must be done very broadly and dispassionately across all the divides.
Mr Speaker, it is important to acknowledge the platform that has been provided by the Institute for Financial and Economic Journalists and the Media in broadening the discussion on the budget of 2013. Mr Speaker, this platform is provided right here in Parliament and several stakeholders are invited everyday to appear on it to discuss the budget and I wish to commend the Institute and the media for this rare opportunity they have given to Ghanaians to engage in the budget discussions and the debate.
Mr Speaker, it is in this light that I wish to associate myself with my Colleagues who spoke previously and expressed delight that our good Friends and Hon Members of the Minority have decided to participate in the discussions and debate of the first budget of His Excellency the President, John Dramani Mahama, President of the Republic of Ghana who was duly elected and sworn in on the 7th of January, 2013.
Mr Speaker, while commending my Colleagues for this bold decision to return to our fold in the performance of their legitimate duty, I wish to urge them to continue to exhibit this resoluteness in resisting any influence both intra and extraneous in future and continue to perform their duties to mother Ghana.
Mr Speaker, there are different ways of measuring success and in taking stock of where we are, it is important to examine them. A key measure of the success, Mr Speaker, is the fact that, in spite of the global economy experiencing turbulence over the past few years, the fragile, weak and uneven recovery of the eurozone economy and the uncertainty surrounding the fiscal issues in the United States, the Ghanaian economy has continued to witness a robust growth in 2012 despite all these uncertainties.
Mr Speaker, the Hon Minister for Finance, in presenting the budget, must be commended for his forthrightness in stating the bare truths about our economy. Mr Speaker, Ghana's GDP, as has been mentioned, grew from GH¢30 billion in 2008 to the current GH¢71.8 billion.
This historic GDP growth confirms that the NDC policy of unrelenting effort at accelerating economic development and growth is real and this development has resulted in the strong and resilient economy that has culminated in raising the status of Ghana to a lower middle income country. Mr Speaker, this is also in line with the “Better Ghana Agenda.”
Mr Speaker, output from all sectors as stated in the budget, not just oil and gas, has grown in leaps and bounds. I would like to re-emphasise that for the first time in several decades in the history of this country, single digit inflation has been sustained for over two years. Mr Speaker, I would also like to talk about the fact that the fiscal performance has been very, very good and needs to be commended.
The good performance of domestic revenue was mainly due to the fact that, strong and a number of innovative reform initiatives were introduced in the period under review.
Mr Speaker, I wish to turn my attention to the housing sector. The Government continued with the policy of granting tax breaks for estate developers who partner with Government to provide affordable houses to Ghanaians and for new companies that list on the Stock Exchange.
Mr Speaker, all these measures demonstrate the commitment of Government to providing the platform for our private sector to really fit into the adage, that the private sector is the engine of growth of our economy. Mr Speaker, the housing profile, which was completed and commissioned in 2011, is an important document and achievement.
Mr Speaker, this would provide a key input in finalising the Ghana Housing Policy, which is expected to outline the framework for tackling the hydra-headed housing issue confronting us as a nation. We also have witnessed the collaboration with UN Habitat and some non- government organisations (NGOs) in Ghana in executing the Slum Upgrade Pilot Project at Ashaiman.
Mr Speaker, this shows the commitment of Government taking steps to ensure that a solution is found to the menace of the huge housing deficit and social housing problems that confront us as a nation. Mr Speaker, it is also heart- warming that the Hon Minister has indicated how we can achieve and sustain a robust and strong tax revenue performance in 2013.
This, he has enumerated through the maintenance of single digit inflation rate, ensuring that the exchange rate is stable, ensuring that we maintain annual high economic growth rate and then an overall GDP growth of at least, 8 per cent, which would be supported by strong infrastruc- tural development.
Mr Speaker, I would like to conclude, that sufficient commitment has been shown and would continue to be shown by the Government in her effort to improve the wellbeing of the Ghanaian worker. Such improvement is demonstrated by the implementation of the Single Spine Salary and the improvement in the basic minimum