President Sisi answered citizen’s questions about his first four years in office during the session entitled “Ask the President” at Tale of Homeland Conference on 19 January 2018- press photo President Sisi answered citizen’s questions about his first four years in office during the session entitled “Ask the President” at Tale of Homeland Conference on 19 January 2018- press photo

Comprehensive look at three-day ‘Tale of Homeland’ conference

Fri, Jan. 19, 2018
CAIRO – 19 January 2018: President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi concluded on Friday the three-day conference titled "Tale of a Homeland" which launched to review the achievements made during his four-year tenure. Egypt Today presents a wrap-up of the main themes tackled during Sisi’s conference.

Inauguration: Sisi’s gratitude for Egyptian’s efforts in facing challenges

At the beginning of the conference, Sisi expressed his appreciation to Egyptians, asking them to stay proud and positive because they were lending a hand in building the country for the sake of future generations, and that is not deemed suffering. He also said that what Egypt accomplished during the past years is the results of a dream that Egyptians insisted on bringing to reality.

He counted then a number of challenges that Egyptians managed to meet during his first presidential term. “The great people of Egypt stood in the face of terrorism and sacrificed a lot in their battle to bring back security and stability against enemies of life and humanity,” Sisi stressed. “In the front rows of this battle were men of the Egyptian Army and the Egyptian Police; history will never forget them and will commemorate them with letters of light in Egypt’s record of struggles.”

He added that Egyptians faced another battle, which is the battle of rebuilding the country, renewing hope and establishing solid basis, on which future generations will rely on. He also pointed out that with the help of Egyptians; his government was able to set the cornerstone of a democratic state.

Sisi highlights main ‘achievements’

The President said an Electricity Transmission Network is currently being established with a total cost of LE60 billion to LE70 billion. Moreover, about 62 agreements were signed to contribute to the development of the oil sector, not to mention that reserves of natural gas discoveries doubled by about eight times from 2010 to 2014 to reach 36.8 trillion sqm.

He also added that projects to develop natural gas fields were carried out with total investments of $12.6 billion to increase its outcome to reach 5 million sqm per day, amounting around 130% increase during 2010-2014.

The president clarified that Egypt’s urban areas got increased to face the increasing population, which now reached around 100 million citizens, and is expected to reach 150 million citizens in 2030.

Sisi also pointed out that he spared no effort to create job opportunities for the youth in order to decrease unemployment rates. He also said his fourth goal was to boost the military abilities of the Armed Forces in order to preserve national security.

Second Day: Economic, industrial projects during Sisi’s presidency

The second day of the conference includes two sessions; “Infrastructure and National Mega projects session”, and “Economy and social justice”.

In the first session titled “Infrastructure and National Mega projects session,” al-Sisi asserted that the Egyptian government has steadily worked towards developing infrastructure in the last few years, underscoring the fact that diversifying energy resources is a key for sustainable development.

“With all due respect to the 2011 revolution, it caused the country to face difficulties, from which we still suffer and will continue to for many years to come,” Sisi stated, adding that “The state needs $900 billion to develop its infrastructure.”

“Soon, Egypt will be able to produce enough natural gas for self-sufficiency,” Sisi said, adding that the government has been working to provide houses with natural gas to quell the gas crisis. He clarified that the government has been working on the development of a nationwide electricity network at a cost of more than LE 70 billion.

Sisi continued that in the past few years the government managed to reduce the petroleum arrears to foreign companies from $6 billion to $2 billion.

Egypt’s road network is in need for fast and active development, so the government is building new roads, including the Regional Ring Road, which is scheduled to be opened on June 30, Sisi said.

As for the railway network, President Sisi noted that upgrading is a must for this sector in order to reduce the number of transportation accidents, adding that the maintenance for line one of the Cairo metro system costs LE 20 billion.

President Sisi also talked about other megaprojects including the construction of more seawater desalination plants, which are vital to meet the growing need for water.

Not only Sisi talked about a number of major energy and network transportation project, but also addressed the Suez Industrial Zone and the Nuclear Power Plant in Dabba on the Mediterranean governorate of Marsa Matrouh.

The second session titled “Economy and social justice”, Sisi said that he cannot deceive Egyptians or say make false statements. He explained that the goal of the conferences he has held in the past was to raise awareness of the public, as the authorities cannot overcome the challenges by themselves.

Sisi said that the donations received by Egypt’s “Tahya Misr” (Long Live Egypt) Fund, which was launched in 2014 to overcome economic challenges, had not exceeded LE 7 billion ($395 million), while the target was LE 200 billion ($11.3 billion).

Regarding the provision of services and infrastructure nationwide, Sisi said that a state budget of $1 trillion was needed, in order to serve a population of 100 million citizens. Sisi explained that the current state budget ranged from LE 1 to LE 2 trillion ($56 - $113 billion) only, and that not all the money is already available.

President al-Sisi also revealed the challenge of educational reform, saying that to reform the educational system, serves 22 million people, LE 220 billion ($12.4 billion) is needed.

Regarding the increase of salaries, al-Sisi said that the state borrowed LE 150 ($8.4 million) to increase the salaries, as part of social justice demands. The salaries increase led to a parallel increase in the public debt.

During the session, al-Sisi lauded the brother countries’ donations to the Central Bank of Egypt (CBE), and their efforts to supply the country with gasoline and solar tanks, throughout a year. “Without [their] support after July 2013, we would not have survived in light of the terrorist attacks in Egypt,” al-Sisi said.

Third Day: answering citizens’ questions about1st term

At the first session titled “Foreign policy and terrorism combat”, Sisi stated that the revolutions Egypt has gone though impeded the performance of the state’s institutions, the state needs 10 to 15 years to restore its stability after the two revolutions in 2011 and 2013. The revolutions ‘broke’ a lot of boundaries in dealing with the governmental institutions, and these boundaries have to be rebuilt.

Sisi also stated that when the state’s institutions cannot perform well, it is easy to bypass them, saying, “if anyone has the ability to smuggle weapons and explosives to countries such as Germany and the USA, of course none of their institutions are well developed. Preserving the Egyptian state’s security is one of the most important strategies.”

On the rumors spread about the parliament’s election and performance, Sisi asserted that the Egyptian parliament election was free and fair, noting that this parliament had the responsibility of setting and reforming the articles of the law according to the new constitutions and this demanded great efforts and therefore “it is inappropriate to criticize the parliament in a non-objective manner.”

Sisi said that the July revolution expressed the free will of the Egyptian people, appreciating Saudi Arabia’s stance on supporting the Egyptians’ will. He said that Egypt is seeking to restore relations with European countries.

During his speech, Sisi revealed the terrific consequences of terrorism in Egypt since 2014, stating that between 12,000 and 13,000 thousand Egyptian citizens were injured as result of terrorist attacks.

He called on all Egyptians to help in building the country’s institutions, and urged them to participate in the upcoming presidential elections.

Sisi stated on Friday his intention to use brutal force in confronting terrorism in Sinai during the upcoming period, stressing that the country has spent LE 250 trillion ($14 trillion) for the development of Sinai, affirming that the country is implementing safety measures in the airport in Arish to be able to return to work without posing a threat to the state, saying, "We will not allow to say that Egypt cannot handle the airport.”

During the second session, the president called on People must vote for whomever they see most eligible. “I will not let the corrupt take the reins of the country," he said.

President Sisi stressed the importance of having a diverse political life, adding that human rights cannot only be reduced to politics and that they are a national concern and must be totally considered and promoted.

“The Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology is hostile to life and prosperity, and they give me no chance for any possible reconciliation,” Sisi added.

On education, Sisi stressed the significance of education for sustainable development, underscoring the role of the newly-established National Youth Academy to train youth with leadership skills so that they can take on leadership roles.

As for terrorism, President Sisi said that the Egyptian state has had a comprehensive strategy to combat terrorism on all the forefronts, including education and culture, and he said he could not inform people of everything on-going in this regard so as not to harm their morality.

“Egypt can never go to war with its sibling countries; the region has had enough of them,” Sisi added.

“The then-ultimate goal of the national project of the new Suez Canal was to bring people together again and to revive their patriotism and resilience,” President Sisi said in response to a question about the magnitude of its significance and its economic impact.

“We were keen to have the project fully funded by Egyptians and to make Egyptian companies get in the grooves of giant projects,” Sisi added.

Additional reporting by: Dunya Hassannin

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