Interview: President Isaias on domestic issues
Asmara, 22 January 2018 – In the second-part of the interview with local media on last Saturday, Presidents Isaias Afwerki stated that the country has achieved substantial progress in the sectors of education, health, water supply, food security as well as in certain areas of physical infrastructure. Bottlenecks in other critical infrastructure and related factors have however negatively affected growth in manufacturing, tourism and fisheries, whose performance remains far below our aspirations and endowments, President Isaias underlined. Government focus in the medium term will accordingly be geared to the revitalization of these sectors to augment their contribution to the country’s economic growth. This will require marshalling the requisite capital investment, technology and human capital – which is being undertaken – as well as sober assessment of the experiences of the past years, President Isaias emphasized.
In responding to the question of GOE priority areas for 2018, President Isaias stated that investment in water infrastructure pursued in the past years will now be supplanted with utilization of the accumulated resources for irrigated agriculture in an incremental manner. The Government will also accord high priority to investments in agro-industries, fisheries and education, President Isaias Afwerki underlined.
In regard to salary increments in the Civil Service, President Isaias stated that the scheme – implemented partially for some categories in 2016/17 – will be implemented this year with retroactivity for 2017. In this respect, President Isaias noted that what is of paramount importance is not increment of nominal salary per se, but the eventual purchasing power of the civil servants. To be meaningful, the scheme must therefore be accompanied by appropriate fiscal and monetary policies for controlling inflation, stabilizing the exchange rate, as well as regulating the balance of payments. In terms of housing, President Isaias stated that housing projects implemented in the past years have lagged far behind the substantial demand in all cities and towns. The Government will thus embark in 2018 on concrete projects to address the housing demand in the coming years in a phased and planned manner.
President Isaias underlined that the illicit migration of Eritrean youth was linked to the subversive agenda of “regime change” pursued by certain quarters. Murky networks, intelligence agencies of certain countries and even some UN institutions have been working in a concerted manner and are implicated in this racket of organized crime. The Government of Eritrea has been urging the UN to undertake an independent investigation of this abominable crime since 2013; and this plea was reiterated last month to the current UN Secretary General, President Isaias stated. The youth – who are victims of this crime – as well as parents and society at large need to be sensitized on the underlying motives and objectives of this subversive campaign, President Isaias stressed.