President Sisi's Speech at inauguration of "Story of Homeland" conference
Sunday، 21 January 2018 - 03:51 PM
Ladies and Gentlemen;
Great Sons of Egypt;
We gather here today while we are approaching the end of a term of office or the end of a period as you entrusted me the task of leading this dear country or as I considered it: the mission of rescuing a homeland and preserving its present and future. We have gone through this mission together amid hostile climates that are ravaging the region, a vortex of the fall and collapse of neighboring countries and grave dangers surrounding our country from all directions.
Before reviewing our achievements together, it is incumbent upon us to review the challenges we faced. In order to be able to draw a map for the future, we should learn from our previous lessons and assess our reality based on objectivity and impartiality.
Therefore I believe I have to present to you a review about my term of office that includes all fields of national action. This should be done through holding meetings for discussion and exchanging viewpoints with full transparency and openness. Meetings through which, we shall review details and data within the framework of presenting and analyzing the figures and abstract facts on scientific and technical terms.
We shall narrate together “The Story of a Homeland” between vision and achievement. How were we?! and how did we become?! The account will be that of honesty and nothing else.
I tell you the truth. what the Egyptians have achieved over the previous period is the fruit of a dream that has come to a reality thanks to the determination and challenge of this great people who decided to revolt against those who attempted to shatter their hopes and aspirations and to steal their homeland and identity… so “The Story of a Homeland” is the determination and enthusiasm of a nation.
It is the account of a great people, who were capable in four years, through his solidarity, cohesion and unity to stand firm and defy the challenge itself. A great people, who, through his strength and power, was capable of defeating major hazards. A story of a great people, who refused to succumb to anything but his free will or to succumb to a fate that his pride and honor rejects.
Great Sons of Egypt;
The Egyptians, with their deep awareness and clear vision, were capable of saving their homeland from a dark path; a homeland that is surrounded by signals of internal fighting and a conspiracy that seeks to dismantle the pillars of the state and exhaust its institutions.
The sons of this dear country had stood courageously in the face of terrorism, and made tremendous sacrifices in their battle for bringing back peace and security against the enemies of life and humanity.
In the front lines of this battle were the Egyptian Army and Police personnel; the history will never forget them and will brightly commemorate their sacrifices and heroics in Egypt's annals of struggles.
On the other hand, the Egyptians were engaged in another battle that is no less fierce or noble than that of facing terrorism. It is the battle of building the future, of implanting hope, and of establishing a firm foundation for the future of this generation and the coming ones. Together, we have laid the foundation stone for our purposeful national project… the project of building a modern democratic civil society in a free country, and at the hands of a strong generous people.
Sons and Sisters
The history of nations is neither separable chains, nor alienated islands, but it is rather a connected sequence that blooms with struggle and victories that are born from the womb of steadfastness and suffering. Our nation has always been a great one… a nation that is a maker of pride and glory.
In order to cross to the future, we have to stand firmly so as to learn from our previous lessons and experiences and to truly document our achievements… then to draw the features of the road to the future.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
What we live today is the outcome of what we did yesterday over the past 50 years. Our nation has been subjected to violent and successive blows.
Let me remind you of that moment, which has almost broken our national will, when it faced an evil aggression in June 1967, which we still suffer from its effects and repercussions so far.
Then came “the Crossing” to achieve a victory in October War, which restored the national dignity before the land. It united the entire Arab nation under the flag of victory. No sooner had the region settled down, than the Iran-Iraq war broke out, which lasted for full eight years. In this war, hundreds of thousands of people were killed and tens of billions of dollars from the two peoples' funds were wasted. Also, it affected the neighboring countries, where the resources of their peoples were lost in a futile struggle, which brought only destruction.
Again, no sooner had the nation got out of this war, than it faced an even more violent shock and a deeper wound, when we were all surprised by the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1990. For two decades, Iraq has been ravaged by wars causing the destruction of the people’s wealth, shedding of the blood of millions and unprecedented waste of Arab resources.
Before the clouds of war fade away from our Arab region, the year 2011 had come with events that hurt the region. During this year, the anger hidden inside the peoples outraged in the form of revolutions aspiring to change for the better. However, the forces of evil and darkness made use of these revolutions sometimes in the name of religion and other times in the name of freedom and democracy. Therefore, the powers that have embedded plans and ambitions targeting the Arab wealth and resources found what they were looking for in the uprisings of peoples. Also, the groups that incubate extremism and sponsor terrorism found their way to take over the power and the opportunity to cause collapse of the Arab countries, finish off the capabilities of the nations and disintegrate them.
The losses caused by such events in countries such as Syria, Iraq, Libya and Yemen were huge. Some international estimates have valued the magnitude of these losses at about $ 900 billion in infrastructure; in addition to more than "one million and 400 thousand" dead and more than "15 million refugees". Before these countries, there had been Afghanistan and Somalia that suffered from the scourge of wars as well as internal fighting.
I'm not talking about related conspiracies. But I am just drawing attention that unawariness makes conspiracy and weakness causes aggression. Therefore, dismantling, division and fragmentation are the shovels of demolition, which we give with our own hands as a present to the enemies of the nation to achieve their ambitions.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Since I have started practicing my career, I used to watch the introductions of what was going on in our region and follow closely the implications of what has been taking place in Egypt over the past decades.
At a certain point, I realized that Egypt was the main target and the Grand Prize for those, who harbored evil for this nation.
When Egypt rises and is stable, the entire Arab nation will rise and becomes stronger. And the countries will fade around if it becomes weak. But the awareness of this great people was cautious to what was being hatched for their country. Above all, the will of Allah supported Egypt as well as the Egyptians. His care continued to protect the good earth of Egypt, where Allah revealed His Glory.
Dear Sons of Egypt,
I thought that the end of my professional career in serving the homeland came when I have been amidst representatives and sects of the Egyptian society on the 3rd of July 2013 along with the personnel of the Armed Forces taking the side of our great people.
And I considered that I had reached the maximum of my ambitions, when I took command of the time-honoured Egyptian army.
I witness Allah Almighty that I was not asking for a position or an authority and I was not looking for any other tasks after the end of my mission in the leadership of the Egyptian army, which I am proud to belong to and cherish its national role. However, I did not hesitate to run for the Presidency of the Republic, which you have entrusted me. Thus, I took over the mission and decided to be an Egyptian citizen, who you chose to save a homeland and protect a nation.
Since the first moment, I have chosen the way of openness. In this respect, I frankly told you the size of challenges and risks as well as the real situations on the political, security, economic and social levels.
And I told you very clearly that the rebuilding of the Egyptian state and making a genuine change in the Egyptians’ living and their children, requires from all of us hard work, big sacrifices, sincerity and impartiality so that we all reach the desired goal.
In this respect, I have always told you that I cannot do anything alone. But together we can defeat the most difficult challenges. Together we can make a glory which our country is worthy of and a history which our future generations are proud of. Our way towards this is to unite.
Egypt’s Great People,
Since we started the national action together in June 8th, 2014, the vision was clear in my mind; it was derived from hopes and aspirations of this honored people. My choice was clear as I decided to face problems, and confront challenges in parallel paths in order to find real solutions, not temporary ones that lead to more aggravation after a while. The philosophy of the national action in this vision was based on four targets:
First: Providing job opportunities for millions of the Egyptian youth to curb unemployment rates and absorb the volume of massive flow to the labor market, especially the Egyptian labor returning from the crises areas in the Arab countries. This is made through launching a package of national mega projects. In these projects, relying on the Egyptian raw materials and labor, as well as national companies, was our priority.
Second: presenting Egypt in a new image to the world, as a platform of work and construction in all fields, amid a turbulent area, to make Egypt take its position regionally and internationally, which has actually been achieved.
Third: Establishing a solid base for industrial construction, in order to transform Egypt to an advanced international industrial hub through the construction of infrastructure required for the establishment of this hub. This is achieved through the construction of a huge road network and tunnels that links the eastern and western banks of the Suez Canal, in addition to establishing of power plants, drinking water and sanitation plants, modern airports, developed ports, and specialized industrial zones; paving the way for attracting foreign investment, and improving the level of services provided to the citizens.
Fourth: Saving the Egyptian state from challenges, threats and risks, and strengthening the elements of the state’s comprehensive powers, especially the military capabilities in order to maintain the national security and borders of the state, secure peace, and defend the resources of this homeland, its gains and wealth.
Over the period of taking responsibility, we have achieved an unprecedented boom in economic development indicators, briefed as follows:
First: Increase of the international cash reserve to about $ 37 billion, after it was $ 16 billion in 2014.
Second: Reduction in the trade deficit balance in the past two years, by $ 20 billion, including $ 4 billion increase in the Egyptian exports, and $ 16 billion decrease in imports.
Third: Falling of unemployment rates from 13.4% to 11.9%. This comes in the light of providing intensive employment opportunities in the major national projects, reaching 3.5 million workers.
Fourth: Reduction of the inflation rate from 35% to 22% during the current month, and it is targted to reach 13%.
Fifth: Decline of the budget deficit as a percentage of GDP from 16.7% in 2013 to 10.9% in 2017.
Sixth: Increase in the flow of direct foreign investments by 14% in the fiscal year 2016/2017.
The total volume of investments in development projects since mid 2014, reached about L.E 400 billion, in housing, construction, drinking water, sanitation and urban development projects.
Furthermore, to uproot the phenomenon of slums and unsafe areas and provide adequate housing for Egyptians, the state has embarked on the implementation of an integrated plan for social housing that targets the youths, and the elimination of slums. Some 25 thousand housing units were built to provide adequate housing for residents of the slums and dangerous areas. In addition, 245 thousand social housing units were built for the citizens at a total cost of L.E 32 billion, and 355 thousand units are under construction at a cost of L.E 71 billion.
Moreover, to maximize the state’s conditions, improve the infrastructure and investments, and conduct the transportation of citizens and goods, a huge leap has been achieved in the national road network, where about 7000 km of roads have been built and developed at a total cost that exceeded L.E 85 billion.
On a parallel path, the power outage crisis since 2014 has been faced, and bridging the gap of power generation was on top of the state’s priorities. As a result, 25 thousand megawatts of traditional and renewable energy, equivalent to about 12 times the capacity of the High Dam, were added until June 2018.
An ambitious plan to develop the oil sector has been implemented to meet the state’s needs of fuel, either for the use of citizens or for industrial and investment uses. This is done through signing 62 prospect and exploration agreements, as the additional reserves of natural gas have been doubled by 8 times from 2010 to 2014 and reached 36.8 trillion cubic feet. Projects for promotion of the natural gas fields have been implemented with a total investments of $ 12.6 billion, bringing its production to 5 million cubic feet per day, at an increase of 130% from 2010 to 2014.
Brothers and Sisters,
Our present and its challenges did not divert us from working within the framework of the vision of building and shaping the future, in order to pave the way for a better life for our sons and grandsons.
Egypt’s vision 2030 was the national vision that covers all the fields of national work. We started to implement this vision with determination for the coming generation, who will hold the country’s responsibility, and continue its steps and phases to raise the construction of our new Egypt.
This vision concentrated on increasing the urban area to face the growing population that represents a big challenge. The Egyptian population now exceeded 100 million and it is estimated to reach 150 million in 2030. So, it was necessary to begin immediately in building a number of new developed cities that meet needs of living.
We started according to a drawn plan to establish the new capital and 13 other cities in North Delta, East of the Canal in Sinai, North Coast and Upper Egypt. These cities provide appropriate housing, job opportunities, developed facilities and services for tens of millions of the Egyptians during the coming years.
Alongside with establishing the new cities, we started a giant project which is the reclamation and cultivation of one million and a half feddans. This is in the framework of an ambitious plan to reclaim 4 million feddans, which is nearly equivalent to half of the cultivated area in Egypt’s land since the ancient times. This is in addition to another project to establish one hundred thousand greenhouses, equivalent to one million feddans in terms of production.
In addition, we started to establish giant projects of fish farming north of Delta and east of the Suez Canal besides huge projects for animal production and poultry.
Our aim is to provide the food needs for citizens and the coming newborns in a country that depends on imports in a big part of its food. Moreover, we aimed to increase the supply of crops, vegetables, fruits, meat and fish, not only to tame but also to decrease the prices. This is in addition to providing millions of job opportunities in the agricultural and industrial communities that are established around the projects of reclamation, fish farming and livestock.
At the same time, we gave big attention to small and medium enterprises, and we took wide steps in establishing specialized industrial cities like the Leather City in Al-Robbiky and Damietta Furniture City among others.
We also allocated L.E 200 billion soft loans for youths from banks with low interest rate that does not exceed 5% to provide them with the necessary finance to establish small productive projects that open livelihoods and provide many job opportunities for others.
Brothers and Sisters,
In less than four years we have achieved and about to finish the establishment of about 11,000 projects at a rate of three projects per day. It is an unprecedented record by any developing country. The projects’ costs reached about L.E 2 trillion. The projects have played a pivotal role in the disappearance of the “death boats” phenomena that lead to the death of hundreds of youths in water while illegally immigrating via the Mediterranean.
The main project was duplicating of the Suez Canal and its new four tunnels that amazed the world twice:
* First: when the Egyptians mobilized in 8 days and subscribed with L.E 64 billion for this giant project.
* Second: when the Egyptians with their strong arms, have ended the digging of the new canal and opened it for the international navigation services during only 12 months in an unprecedented record made by the Egyptians only.
This achievement was the base for another giant project, which was launching the Suez Canal Corridor development project. It is considered the biggest in the Middle East for developed industries and logistic services. It is a major investment of the position, place and human capabilities in achieving a progress for our homeland.
My understanding and trust in the Egyptian youths has no limit, as I gave them the top priority in the State’s agenda and met their needs on all levels. Holding of national conferences for youths at the end of the Youth Years 2016 was a shifting point in the relation between the state and its youth, where the direct contact and effective dialogue have been achieved, so the results were great. The conferences reached many outputs and recommendations, which were implemented with full determination and will. One of its greatest achievements is the release of the young people, who were sentenced by final judgements. Also, the establishment of a national academy for qualifying and training them as well as establishing the higher authority for developing Upper Egypt.
The state has provided a breather for the youths, to practice sport and art activities through a comprehensive plan in order to develop the youth centers all over Egypt and establish a number of comprehensive sport cities.
Due to my major belief in the necessity of training and qualifying youth, the presidential programme was launched to train them on leadership and training and preparing the leaders in the state’s administrative machinery. These two programs were the nucleus for establishing the national academy for qualifying and training youths. This ambitious project, which we aim through it to establish a qualified national youth base in twinship with the greatest academies all over the world in all fields and sectors according to the latest international standards.
Moreover, the Egyptian woman, the conscience of the nation, was paid a major attention and interest. This is her right due to her great role in undertaking her national responsibilities courageously, so this role is always appreciated and respected.
Also, the ratio of women represented in the parliament has reached 15% for the first time in Egypt’s history and her representation in the government reached 20%.
The government presented a number of draft laws to the parliament to protect women’s rights and maintain their dignity, so the laws were passed. The low-brackets income and rural women development project, cottage families projects and grooming societal leaders, cadres projects were launched.
Ladies and Gentlemen;
The Great Egyptian People;
No doubt that brains are the Locomotives that lead the nations and investment in the human element is the real one; therefore, fields of education, scientific research and culture have occupied an advanced priority in the agenda of the national work.
Number of classes and laboratories have increased reaching more than 41 thousand classes as well as 5 thousand laboratories within the different basic educational stages. Since a teacher is the basic pillar and the most fundamental element in developing the education process, we were keen on launching the program of “Teachers Are First”, which aims to qualify the teachers and equip them with the latest means and methods. Actually, 10 thousand teachers were graduated as the first batch of such program.
Moreover, the government has offered the third bracket which is estimated at 125% of the basic salary. The Egyptian Information Bank was also launched. It is considered the biggest digital library that includes the most prominent scientific Series, books, articles and researches all over the world. Its services are available for all citizens for free especially the youths and researchers.
In addition, 9 governmental and private universities have been established during the period from 2014 until now. The number of faculties have mounted from 392 to 450. The number of university hospitals have risen from 88 to 109 at a growth rate of 23%.
Since the scientific research is one of the most important pillars of the development process, we are committed to work for developing and financing it, as the number of research projects have increased at a rate of 232%. The number of scientific researches which was internationally published have gone up by 29% and the number of the students sent abroad have risen to reach about 72% at a cost of LE 700 million.
The Great People of Egypt,
Fourty two months ago, I swore to take full care of the interests of the people. I have committed myself to be frank and honest with you.
I did not hide the difficulty of the economic situation that threatens the present of the country as well as the future of the coming generations.
I frankly pointed out that the economic reform is a step that has been delayed for 40 years. This resulted in the fact that the country was about to fall into an abyss of economic collapse. I told you that reform was a necessity for salvation and that its urgent measures were considered an indispensible treatment so as to avoid an inevitable fate threatening the country and the people more than any other dangers.
Without reform, the state will not be able, in the near future, to provide salaries and pensions. Moreover, it will not be able to spend on public services such as health and education, or facilities such as housing, drinking water and sanitation, under a growing deficit in the public budget that leads to exacerbation of the public debt and inability to repay debt installments, which eventually lead to bankruptcy.
I did not hesitate to take the reform decision despite all the estimates that recommended postponing it to the future or to the era of a new president in order to preserve the popularity that has been gained in the Egyptian street.
The decision was taken because I believe that the future of the people is prior to the interests of a person.
I am not the one who accepts to deceive the masses in order to receive applause for an individual at the expense of a better morrow for a nation.
The decision was taken for the sake of this great people, our children and grandchildren.
The most appropriate timing was chosen after the appropriate conditions and circumstances had been created.
I depended, in taking the decision, on the consciousness of the Egyptian people, their understanding of the interest of their country, and their trust in the sincerity of their leadership.
I have been keen on making sure that the reform steps would be accompanied by a package of unprecedented protective measures to lessen the burden of the Egyptian families as much as the budget of the country can afford.
We increased salaries last July through a special allowance, an allowance for the prices rise, and the periodic allowance. The cost reached LE14 billion. Thus, the allocation of salaries in the general budget increased from LE 80 billion in 2011 to LE 230 billion this year, at a percentage of about 300 %.
We have increased pensions by 15% so that the minimum reached 630 pounds starting from last July. Last year, the minimum was increased from LE 375 to LE 500.
As for the pension of Takaful and Karama (Solidarity & Dignity), the minimum pension at the beginning of the current fiscal year was increased at a percentage of 30%, to reach LE 450 for the elderly or the handicapped; LE 350 to LE 600 for the women who sustain children enrolled in regular education, according to the number of children and educational stages. Orphans were included in this pension. The number of beneficiaries has increased to cover more than 2.5 million Egyptian families, along with 750,000 beneficiaries of social solidarity pensions.
Total allocations of solidarity pensions increased from LE 6 billion 3 years ago to LE 17.250 billion to cover 10% of the poorest families.
At the same time, the allocation of per capita subsidy for the beneficiary family, starting from last July, increased from LE 21 to LE50. The per capita subsidy 4 years ago did not exceed LE 15.
Since the beginning of the current fiscal year, the tax exemption limit was raised to LE 7200 per year, which means a further increase in per capita income.
We also launched an ambitious national project to improve the livings of the Egyptians. The project succeeded in providing pure drinking water to 96% of the Egyptian households throughout the country.
The drainage service was extended to cover 16% of the villages. The percentage did not exceed 10% 42 months ago. The project comes within a plan that targets to provide this service to 40% of the villages of Egypt.
Since I assumed office, I have been keen on giving due attention to eliminating the hepatitis virus C; an epidemic, which threatens the lives of the people and destroys the health of millions of youths. Thanks to Allah, we succeeded, after exerting hard and cooperative effort, in combating the epidemic and providing treatment to 1.4 million patients, at a cost of LE 3.7 billion. Besides, recovery rate increased to 97% and patient treatment waiting lists came to an end starting from mid-2016.
Moreover, a medical survey was conducted for 5 million citizens and medication was provided for patients within a plan to reach 50 million Egyptian citizens by 2020, the year during which we hope that Egypt will manage to completely put an end to this epidemic.
Brothers and Sisters
Despite all these efforts, I really feel the suffering of low-income and middle class categories and the daily burdens they endure; I assure all of you that I would spare no effort to try as much as possible to alleviate this suffering and improve their living conditions.
We went into great strides with the reform process that began to bear fruits and produce tangible results; this is confirmed by a number of good economic indicators and a lot of positive reports released by international institutions that highlight a decrease in unemployment and inflation rates and an increase in growth rates that is expected to rise to 5% by the end of the current fiscal year.
Brothers and Sisters,
The Great Egyptian People,
Nearly four years ago, Egypt was indulged in its heavy burdens and preoccupied more with its domestic affairs and internal situation that kept it far from its Arab nation. Egypt was quite isolated from its African continent and its membership was suspended by the African Union that Egypt co-founded. Egypt’s status declined in the whole world, not to mention the international isolation imposed on it subsequent to the June Revolution. Now, Egypt has made a strong comeback; it regained its status and restored its influence on both the Arab and African arenas. Once again, Egypt has become the beating heart of its Arab nation and the steadfast defender of its rights that can never be compromised, bargained or abandoned. Once again, Egypt is working relentlessly and struggling sincerely to help preserve the territorial integrity of its sisterly Arab states and help these countries navigate safe amidst the crises that tore apart their security and undermined their stability in addition to the remarkable efforts Egypt exerted to realize national reconciliation and mend fences among different factions in an attempt to help these states regain their aspired roles.
Egypt regained its status in the world and extended bridges of cooperation with the super and most influential powers. From east to west and north to south, Egypt established well-balanced relations based on close dialogue, on-going consultations, mutual respect and common interests.
Now, I am so proud to say that the Egyptian vision is well listened to in all forums, and its brave and sincere stances are well respected and appreciated by all. I am so proud to say that Egypt’s status remains high, its banners remain fluttering and its dignity remains safeguarded. I am so proud to say that under all circumstances, Egypt’s national decision remained independent, derived only by the will of the Egyptian people to realize the welfare of this homeland and safeguard the interests of this nation.
Brothers and Sisters,
By holding sessions marked by transparency and openness over the next two days, my goal is not merely reviewing what has been accomplished by a president who is about to end his presidential term but mainly providing a panoramic presentation of tangible achievements that have been realized on every inch of our homeland thanks to the strenuous efforts and major sacrifices of a great people over nearly four years.
I was so keen to unveil all facts, data and figures to the Egyptian people. Although disclosure of some of these facts and figures is deemed inappropriate from the perspective of the national security considerations, yet, my unshakeable belief is that the people’s awareness of either what took place or what is still underway in their country with all related perspectives and dimensions is the strongest pillar of the national security.
Let us together take the upcoming sessions of transparency and truth as a chance to listen to the story of a homeland that speaks about itself and the story of a people who truly desired to live, and so fate responded to their call.
Long Live Egypt… Long Live Egypt… Long Live Egypt
May Allah’s Peace and Mercy Be Upon You