Thursday,23 November, 2017
Current issue | Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)
Thursday,23 November, 2017
Issue 1246, (14 - 20 May 2015)

Ahram Weekly

Presidential tête-à-tête

President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi spoke to the nation via television on Tuesday evening, covering topics of national interests, Reem Leila reports

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Al-Ahram Weekly

On Tuesday 12 May, President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi gave his third monthly speech to the public. For nearly an hour, the president discussed issues of national and international significance, speaking frankly about terrorism and the country’s administrative authority.

Al-Sisi opened his speech paying homage to workers again on the occasion of Labour Day. He went on to delineate the country’s need for greater technology in administration, “neutralising the human factor” so as to control corruption. “Eliminating corruption will take time,” he said, pointing out that the government’s monitoring agencies have already been working. “We are not starting from scratch, we are building on what has been  accomplished.”

With the benefit of new legislation, the judicial system backed by  security should combat corruption.

“During the last month 334 cases of corruption and profiteering have been investigated by the authorities.

We have retrieved over LE3.5 billion,” Al-Sisi said. He cited, in particular, the example of land restoration: in the space of a month, he said, 135 square metres of land had been illegally acquired. The authorities have been working on returning this land to public ownership.

Regarding terrorism, Al-Sisi was confident of the efforts being exerted to combat the phenomenon.

“During the past month,” he said, “over 600 terrorists were arrested, 62 of them with bombs ready to use against Egypt and Egyptians... Over 150 terrorist hotspots were eliminated.”

Al-Sisi said that 90 per cent of the illegal tunnels connecting Sinai and Gaza have been destroyed. “This is the one of the first steps on the way to regaining Sinai which terrorism and terrorists want to take away from us,” he said.

The president expressed his conviction that comprehensive development in Sinai will help to eradicate terrorism there. Though the immediate situation requires attention to regional security, development is equally important. “In my next monthly speech,” Al-Sisi announced, “I will tell you about the projects intended to establish stability and security in the area. Projects will depend on eradicating poverty, eliminating illiteracy and reforming religious discourse.”

In this context, Al-Sisi blamed Al-Azhar scholars, men of religion and intellectuals for their insufficient efforts to reform religious dialogue. “We need to move swiftly and effectively to combat terrorism,” he said.

The president focussed on the new branch of Suez Canal, which is proceeding apace. “We have finished 100 per cent of the dry digging and 65 per cent of the dredging work of the canal. The new branch will be inaugurated on 6 August and will be ready to receive the huge ships that pass through.”

Investment and land reclammation had their share of the speech too. Al-Sisi confirmed that in the next four months the digging of 1,000 out of a total of 4,000 wells will be complete, enabling the reclammation of the one million feddans in Al-Farafra. “There will be ample development and a holistic urban community,” he said. “We all know about the European countryside, there will also be an Egyptian countryside that resembles it.”

Al-Sisi also addressed the irritating problem of power cuts. “By the beginning of August there will be new power plants producing 3,600 Megawatts. By the end of the year, an extra 3,000 Megawatts will be added to that...” He went on to explain that three other plants are planned, producing 4,000 Megawatts each and thereby ending power shortages for good.

In the last ten months, Al-Sisi said, 56 agreements were signed in the field of oil and natural gas have been conducted, with $30 billion worth of investment.

The president also pointed out that he has instructed the government to deliver natural gas to 800,000 rather than 400,000 houses this year. Next year, the government will work towards providing natural gas to another 1,200,000. “This will reduce corruption in the distribution of butane cylinders among people,” he said. “The government sells each cylinder to the public for LE8 but corrupt employees demand ever higher prices.”

Al-Sisi also spoke of attracting investors, an objective that will be facilitated once the country’s road network is complete. “This August we will complete 3,200km which make up 45 per cent of the whole national road network project,” he said. “In the same month we will also complete the regional ring road, which is 400km long and connects over 20 governorates. It was planned that this project would accomplished in five years, but we will complete it this August so as to encourage investors.”

Al-Sisi also talked about developing 100 villages chosen from among 1,200 of the poorest in the country.

The project will take place over the next four months, costing LE500 million. “Next month,” Al-Sisi added, “we will distribute 10,000 cattle heads among the poorest families of the poorest villages; this, in addition to furnishing their houses.” 

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