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Sisi underlines $146 billion worth of national projects

Ahram Online , Friday 3 Jun 2016
Sisi
Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi (Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi said on Friday that the state is currently managing eight national projects, which are being executed by more than 1,000 companies and nearby 2 million Egyptian workers, although he warned that development in the education and health sector is unlikely for some time.

"The cost of those projects is more than EGP 1.3 trillion ($146 billion) so that's why we're being very cautious and getting in to details, to avoid any corruption," El-Sisi said in a television interview with presenter Osama Kamal which tackled several topics, including internal development, the media and freedom, and international relations.

"The military is participating in these national projects through its own engineering authority, but only for the sake of monitoring the performance and to make sure that the expenditure of those projects is wisely spent."

"It will take between 12 and 13 years in order to achieve what we have in mind for the education sector, which is nearby the same case with the health sector as well," El-Sisi said.

Egypt's spending on healthcare and education would account for 5.7 percent and 11.1 percent of total government spending respectively.

The past years have witnessed frequent calls to increase spending on both sectors; the doctors syndicate has lobbied for the allocation for health care to be raised to 15 percent of the state budget.

El-Sisi explained in the interview, which lasted for more than an hour and a half and marked the beginning of his third year in office, that the state is currently trying to make all data registered through national ID cards, in order to fight corruption.

However, he stressed that there will be no "pressure imposed by the state on the monitoring bodies."

"We are building state institutions and we will never accept any attack on them," El-Sisi added.

The Red Sea islands issue

"Each state body respects the role of the other one. For instance, the Red Sea agreement with Saudi Arabia is now being studied by the parliament, which will form committees to decide whether to ratify it or not, with no pressure at all from any entity," El-Sisi said.

In April, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia governments sealed a deal to redraw maritime borders to recognise that the two Red Sea islands of Tiran and Sanafir are under Saudi sovereignty.

The deal, which was made last month when Saudi Arabia's King Salman visited Cairo, caused widespread controversy in Egypt, with dozens of protesters taking to street to oppose the deal. Many activists are facing trials for "illegally protesting" the deal.

"The state is not against the right to protest at all," El-Sisi said.

"But this should happen in a legal way and I want to make it clear that 90 percent of people being imprisoned or in custody are for criminal charges and we are currently studying the cases of the few remaining percentage and soon I will release a fourth batch of prisoners as I did three times before," he added.

Youth, media and social media

"I also wanted to say that I never get upset by any youth voices which disagree with me, as long as the disagreement is for the sake of the country," the president said.

"I think the Egyptian youth are fully aware about what is happening around them, but I also need to warn them about social media websites," El-Sisi said.

El-Sisi said that that sometimes the information being circulated on social media can mislead the youth about public issues.

"I also wanted to say that the media need to be controlled; not for the sake of seizing public opinion, which is something that will never happen again, but in order to regulate its role and know what to say and what not to say," he added. 

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