SPEECH ON THE STATE OF THE NATION DELIVERED BY PRESIDENT JOSÉ EDUARDO DOS SANTOS IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY AT THE START OF THE PARLIAMENTARY YEAR

EMBASSY OF THE REPUBLIC OF ANGOLA
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SPEECH ON THE STATE OF THE NATION
DELIVERED BY PRESIDENT JOSÉ EDUARDO DOS SANTOS
IN THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY
AT THE START OF THE PARLIAMENTARY YEAR
Luanda, 15 October 2010


President José Eduardo dos Santos

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Dear deputies,
Ministers,
Illustrious guests,
Ladies and gentlemen,

 

Introduction

Making a speech on the state of the nation at this formal ceremony to open the parliamentary year in the National Assembly is a privilege and a duty that I have the pleasure to perform, in keeping with the constitution.

I shall seek to outline the constraints we experienced in 2009 because of the international financial crisis and speak of the policies adopted and steps taken to face up to it, so as to normalise the situation and promote sustained development, with a view to achieving a better distribution of wealth, improve the quality of life and progressively meet the psychological and material needs of citizens.

I shall also deal with general factors aimed at presenting the Republic of Angola in the concert of nations as a country seeking to become modern, strong and capable.

We are an independent nation that, in the course of the thirty-five years of its existence, has shown that it is has been able gradually to fulfil its people’s dreams and their deepest wishes with determination, courage and the desire to win.

Even at the most difficult times the Angolan people did not let themselves give way to discouragement, despair or pessimism. It was, on the contrary, precisely at those times that they stood tall, their heads held high, gaining strength and advancing firmly and united to victory. It was with this attitude that we won independence, democracy and peace. It was with this attitude that we consolidated national unity and started to rebuild the country.

In the here and now we face other challenges such as achieving development and wellbeing, controlling illegal immigration and our borders and so forth.

Despite the predictable obstacles, there is no doubt that we will also win this time. Nothing is impossible in the life of a people when they decide to fight with faith, realism and abnegation. Believing in ourselves and our abilities, we have already blazed half the trail to success!

The rest of our journey depends on our political foresight, well defined objectives, planned action, organised work and the methods to be used to carry out our tasks. It also depends on the human, financial and material resources we have or can create.

All of this, combined with a responsible attitude to work and discipline, honesty, transparency and good governance, can lead us to full success and satisfaction in achieving our dreams.

 

State of the Nation

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Deputies,

I shall now go on from my introduction to the themes already mentioned.

The country is in a phase of material and spiritual reconstruction after a long period of war.

The destruction, in 2002, included thousands of schools, hospital centres and medical posts, while road travel was seriously affected everywhere in the country by the mining of highways and paths. More than 70 percent of the country’s road network was in an advanced state of deterioration and more than two-thirds of the 4,000 existing bridges and pontoons were partially or wholly destroyed.

The country’s main railways – the Luanda, Benguela and Namibe lines – were inoperative because of mining, the destruction of rails and the vandalising of stations. There were hundreds of minefields in the country.

That same year, the water harnessing and treatment stations in Luanda, Malanje, Uíje, Huambo, Bié and other places had also been totally destroyed or seriously sabotaged. With regard to electric power, many hydroelectric dams, sub-stations and power lines in the provinces of Luanda, Bengo, Benguela, Huambo, Huíla, Uíje, Bié, Kwanza Sul and Kwanza Norte, etc., had been destroyed, looted or sabotaged.

Many cities and towns, including provincial capitals, still bore the marks of the sieges and bombardments to which they were subjected, with buildings and essential facilities totally destroyed or inoperative.

Since 2002, it is an undeniable fact that our country has made noteworthy progress in rebuilding facilities and reorganising the economy. Angola’s economic growth rate has been one of the highest in the world since we achieved peace.

Between 2002 and 2008, gross domestic product (GDP) was multiplied by 2.6 and the average annual growth rate was 14.6 percent.

Even taking inflation into account, the indicators on the general living conditions of the population grew by about three months, corresponding to an average annual increase of 20 percent.

It is important to note that the growth of non-oil GDP was shown to be more dynamic than that of oil GDP during the said period. Indeed, the average growth rate of non-oil GDP was 13.3 percent, compared with 10.9 percent for oil GDP. This shows the success of the policy of diversifying the economy, which is indispensable to ensuring job creation and territorially balanced development.

The exceptional economic performance in these eight years of peace has also had a positive effect on the balance of payments and public finances.

Owing to the substantial growth of the oil industry, the balance of payments current account showed a surplus every year between 2002 and 2008. In the latter year, the balance was about 533,000 million kwanzas, the equivalent of $7,000 million, representing 20.8 percent of GDP.

The stability of the kwanza in relation to the US dollar was one of the notable features of monetary policy during this period. The annual inflation rate fell from 105.6 percent in 2002 to 13.17 percent in 2008. Net international reserves attained the sum of $18,110, 900 million dollars on 31 December 2008.

It was an unexpected global factor that put a brake on this growth rate of the national economy. I am referring to the international financial crisis, which severely affected our country.

The oil industry, the main source of revenue, suffered a two-fold impact from the crisis, with negative consequences. The demand for crude oil on the international market decreased and the price of this commodity fell by about 50 percent.

If the fall in demand was not fully apparent in 2008 statistics it was solely because of the exceptional performance of the oil industry in the first half of the year, the average output that year having been 1,906,000 barrels a day.

The same can be said of the average price of our oil, which remained $93.69 a barrel in 2008. This average price was higher than those in 2007 and 2006, which were, respectively, $72.36 and $61.37. However, in September 2008 the price of crude oil was already less than $100 and it continued to fall, reaching an average price of about $30 a barrel in December that year. Even maintaining output at near capacity limits was not sufficient to ensure the foreign exchange revenues of the previous year.

The impact of the fall in oil earnings on the country’s tax revenue was enormous, since two-thirds of that revenue came from the oil industry.

The crisis also affected the diamond industry, though to a lesser extent. The fall in demand and in the prices of diamonds led companies to reduce their operations and, therefore, there was increased unemployment.

Added to this gloomy scenario, on the domestic market there was at the time a pronounced speculative trend of acquiring foreign currency and a related general increase in prices. For this and other reasons, the country’s net international reserves fell sharply in the first months of 2009 and prompt action had to be taken to prevent the unjustified demand for foreign currency from creating an even more serious foreign exchange crisis.

The government started by taking fiscal measures, sharply and selectively reducing public expenditure to counter the sudden and violent fall in tax revenue and then, more incisively, coordinating its action with that of the National Bank of Angola, in order that it might improve its management of monetary policy and reduce the excess liquidity in the economy.

Within this context, the government started to finance part of public expenditure with funds obtained from the sale of government bonds and national treasury bills.

When the required domestic measures had been taken and made part of a consistent stabilisation programme, a stand-by agreement was signed with the International Monetary Fund in the third quarter of 2009. This agreement was used to secure more financial resources for our balance of payments and it also meant international recognition of the correctness and timeliness of the adjustments made by the government in the course of the year, which made it possible to protect our net international reserves and to ensure the country’s macroeconomic stability.

The positive assessment of our economic policy was followed, in the first quarter of this year, by the positive rating of Angola’s economy by the three main international agencies specialised in this area. A positive rating within the context of countries with the same economic features as Angola not only enhances the country’s prestige, but shows that we were, and still are, on the right path to overcoming the negative effects of the international crisis on our economy.

In this connection, the accumulated debt, which is also a consequence of the crisis, started to be paid in April this year. I am referring to debts incurred on the domestic market in the 2008-2009 financial year. Repayment disbursements were speeded up in the last six months of the year. We have so far paid creditors 256,500 million kwanzas, the equivalent of $2,700 million. These debts have now been regulated, since one part was paid immediately and the other will be paid in phases by the first quarter of 2011, as agreed with the parties concerned.

The timeliness and effectiveness of the measures can be judged by their positive effects on Angola’s economy. The Angolan economy is continuing to grow, though at a slower pace. GDP growth in 2009 was 2.4 percent. The inflation rate rose by only 1 percent, despite the considerable depreciation of the kwanza that year. Net international reserves were stabilised at the end of 2009 and recovered rapidly in 2010.

After the depreciation sustained in 2009, the kwanza started to gain in value in the first quarter of this year and stabilised at a level of 90 kwanzas to the dollar on the primary market.

Meanwhile, the country’s net international reserves attained the sum of more than $12,635 million at the end of the last six months.

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Deputies,

The government’s main purpose is the constant improvement of the Angolan people’s quality of life.

The government is determined to achieve a systematic increase in the funds available for social programmes, so as to exceed the current minimum target of 30 percent of resources provided for in the general state budget.

It must be acknowledged in this respect that there have been important progress and many improvements in recent years, as shown by the main findings of the recent integrated survey of the wellbeing of the population.

I shall mention only a few examples.

With regard to health, life expectancy rose from 44 years in 2000 to 47 in 2008. The infant mortality rate has decreased about 60 percent in eight years, falling from 150 in every thousand live births to 116, while the mortality rate of children under five fell from 250 to 194 in every thousand live births. During the same period, the percentage of births assisted by trained professionals increased from 22 to 49 percent and the maternal mortality rate was reduced by at least a half.

Furthermore, the rate of immunisation of children aged between 12 and 23 months rose from 41 percent in 2000 to 79 percent in 2008 and the incidence of fevers or malaria fell from 15 percent in 2006 to 10.7 percent in 2008.

Notwithstanding these results, even greater protection is required for children and the elderly, who are the most vulnerable and therefore those who will warrant more attention from society, while improving the control of the major endemic diseases like malaria, HIV/Aids, tuberculosis and sleeping sickness.

These and other important public health problems are challenges to which the country must continue to give priority because, in order to achieve the government’s health targets by 2012, there is an essential need to rehabilitate and expand the various levels of health care and to determine provincial health development plans, public investment and human resources correctly. It is also important to improve professional skills and diagnosis and treatment, with emphasis on ensuring humane services and careful management of available resources.

In the area of education, the total number of pupils enrolled in basic and secondary schooling rose from about two million in 2001 to approximately six million in 2009, an increase of about 180 percent. In order to meet the needs of this increase, the number of classrooms grew by 16 percent and the number of teachers by 36 percent.

The number of pupils in higher education increased by 42 percent, rising to 60,850 in the past two years, while the number of higher education institutions increased from 28 to 33. The number of teachers in state higher education increased significantly from 1,500 in 2008 to 1,900 in 2009.

The area in which the situation is very bad is housing. More than 70 percent of Angolan families do not have decent homes. We will have to make a great effort, a gigantic effort, I should say, to remedy this situation.

The programme of public investment in transport, in both the rehabilitation of highways, bridges and railways and the building of new undertakings, made possible the rapid resettlement of more than three million people displaced from their home areas and improved the movement of people and goods everywhere in the country.

It also made possible a significant increase in the volume of freight of different kinds transported. The volume of freight by all means of transport tripled between 2002 and 2009. The volume of goods handled in ports grew by 29 percent in the period 2007-2009 alone.

The total volume of electricity generated also increased significantly as a result of public investments made after peace was achieved. Generation by various means was 1,425 gigawatts an hour in 2000. The total had attained 4,914 gigawatts an hour in 2009, having increased about three and a half times.

The amount of treated water supplied rose from 430,000 cubic metres in 2006 to 705,000 cubic metres in 2009, an 81 percent increase.

As regards telecommunications, there is a marked increase every year in the number of people using telephone services. The total number of mobile phone users grew by 19.7 percent in 2009. Today an estimated 47 percent of Angolans have mobile phones.

There has also been a significant increase in the number of internet subscribers. The number tripled between 2007 and 2009, rising from 100,000 to more than 300,000.

Apart from all this, in 2009 we were able to create more than 385,000 jobs in the areas of electric power, trade, agriculture, fisheries, transport, public works, geology and mining, health, industry, the hotel industry and tourism.

All these figures clearly demonstrate that we acted at the right time and took appropriate measures. Many countries have not yet overcome the crisis and few have suffered the same collateral effects as occurred in our country. Thanks to the measures taken and the stabilisation of the price of crude oil on the international market, it has been possible to resume economic activity and the upward trend of rapid economic growth.

We can therefore conclude that we are continuing to keep our country on the right path and to meet the needs of citizens, carrying out the programme for which voters showed their preference in the elections two years ago.

I hope the favourable indicators I have just referred to will be taken into account when the time comes to make an up-to-date and honest assessment of the government’s performance, because they are in themselves sufficient to dispel the criticisms and campaigns orchestrated both at home and abroad aimed at denigrating the government’s leaders.

 

The future – economic and social prospects

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Dear deputies,

The estimated growth of the world economy in 2010 is 6.3 percent and 4.7 percent for sub-Saharan Africa.

We expect about 4.5 percent growth in Angola, but with a tangible prospect that this will increase to about 8 percent in 2011, owing to the efforts to be made next year to resume public and private investment. The already assured growth next year is essentially based on the diversification of economic activity, in accordance with the government’s strategic guidelines. In this connection, 5.7 percent growth is forecast for non-oil GDP, headed by the areas of agriculture, electric power, processing industry and mercantile services.

The year 2010 has also been essential to guaranteeing the preconditions for sustained development, even if the world oil market does not attain the vigour it had before the 2008-2009 crisis.

The government has indeed obtained a significant improvement in fiscal accounts and the balance forecast in the revised 2010 general state budget is about 1.5 percent of GDP.

These results will strengthen the recovery of state savings and ensure the expansion of the public investment programme in 2011 without jeopardising the sustainability of the public debt.

Priority investment will be in completing projects still in progress and in the maintenance, preservation and proper use of those that are already functioning. Investment in economic facilities will make it possible to create the conditions for private investment which, in turn, will further the diversification of the economy.

Within this context, the institutions concerned should pay special attention to the average monthly variation in the rate of inflation in the first eight months of this year, which was a moderate 1 percent.

During the same period, the effect of the foreign exchange market on inflation was moderate, with a fluctuation of less than 1 percent.

These figures, combined with the prudent carrying out of economic policy in coming months, will enable us to ensure that the inflation rate is quite close to the planned average.

Meanwhile, the traditional pattern of inflation in the country was moderated during the year, though there is a seasonal tendency for it to rise in the last months of every year, owing to structural demand factors and, above all, to the speculative activities of some opportunist economic operators.

However, the government is completing a study on the real causes of inflation in Angola, in order to decide if it is imported or if it is a result of financing the deficit caused by public expenditure. Its effects make themselves felt in current high interest rates when there is a need for measures to stimulate investment and credit.

At the same time, the government has started a programme to reorganise public finance, with the help of reputable foreign consultancies, the main aim being to strengthen the institutional relationship between the National Bank of Angola and the Ministries of Finance, Planning and Administration, Employment and Social Security, and also to reinforce compliance with universally accepted procedures and good practices, so as to guarantee efficient and effective public expenditure and increase revenue levels.

Indeed, we want levels of inflation that do not raise interest rates, making credit more expensive, as I just said. To achieve this requires not just general macroeconomic policy measures. The government will also have to take new direct action in respect of the causes of the continued high prices in our country as compared with the average prices in other developing countries.

An objective, comprehensive and detailed study has been made on the formation of the prices of goods and services in our country, on which basis measures - notably the establishment of an institution to monitor prices and competition - will soon be announced.

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Deputies,

Fighting hunger and working to reduce and eradicate poverty are, because of their impact on people’s lives, two of the greatest challenges facing the Angolan state, since they are crucial to building a more prosperous society based on social justice.

These two problems are being tackled in a twofold perspective, within both the framework of carrying out macroeconomic policy and that of greater administrative decentralisation specifically related to places where there is most poverty.

The government is therefore implementing integrated municipal rural development and programmes to fight hunger and poverty that presuppose more community participation, local monitoring, activities carried out by the community itself and decisions taken in councils representing different local interests.

The integrated programmes to fight hunger and poverty include action in the areas of health and education, basic facilities, rural trade, water and power, local production and vocational training.

The government has approved a credit line in kwanzas equivalent to $350 million and funds to promote micro-credit to which small and medium farmers have access, to support especially family agriculture and the neediest peasant population.

National business will also benefit from specific measures aimed at developing and promoting private Angolan companies and new incentives to set up big Angolan companies.

The government has adopted a consistent policy of promoting private Angolan companies, so that nationals become increasingly involved in productive activities, as is already successfully happening in the oil and diamonds industries.

All these measures are aimed at the competitive involvement of Angola’s economy internationally, since the fact of globalisation requires a growth strategy supported not only by diversification, but by some selectivity in terms of sectors, in which the state should play a leading role.

This is why efforts are being made to improve institutional coordination, mainly in production distribution and trade, so that programmes and projects attain the targets set.

This new way of thinking will also help to identify the goods that most affect the balance of trade and that, when produced in large quantities, will make it possible gradually to replace or reduce imports.

We are fully aware that only in this way can we increase the domestic supply of goods and services, employment and family incomes.

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Deputies,

There is a growing need for electric power and water, both for domestic consumption and for agriculture, industry and services. The government has therefore approved investment programmes in both these sectors that should be put into effect by 2012, therefore after this legislative term. We are convinced that successive governments will continue to seek sustained development and water and power are vital to achieving this. The programmes will make it possible, in respect of power, to install a generating capacity of 7,000 megawatts by 2016, allowing for per capita consumption of 4,000 kilowatts, which is eight times more than current capacity.

As regards water, the projects will provide for 100 percent access to clean water in urban areas and 80 percent in rural and peri-urban areas.

In order to put these projects into effect, the government has established a fund to finance energy, water and transport infrastructure by means of reserves from revenue from the sale of 100,000 barrels of oil a day, as a way of converting the wealth earned from non-renewable resources into a source of renewable resources.

In turn, the prospect of completing the rehabilitation of the Benguela Railway, the expansion of the ports of Moçâmedes and Lobito, as well as the future construction of the port of Dande and the continuing programme to rehabilitate and build the highway network, will make it possible in the next few years for the country to be transformed into a logistical hub of considerable importance in Southern Africa.

Our development also includes the use of natural gas, known as LNG, in Soyo, which is expected to start to come on stream in the second half of 2011. This project will give the country the opportunity to create new industries, notably the production of fertilisers, making it possible to boost agricultural productivity and, consequently, increase the supply of fresh and dry produce of vegetable origin.

The LNG project is complying with the most modern requirements of respect for the environment, as part of a general policy making it compulsory for all current and future projects to abide by international standards of protection of the environment, as should notably apply to the preservation and protection of the Maiombe equatorial forest in Cabinda Province.

 

Strengthened institutions

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Dear deputies,
Ladies and gentlemen,

It should also be stressed, in truth, that it was not only economic and financial measures that enabled us to cope with the crisis. The new political and institutional model that came into being as a result of the approval of the new Constitution of the Republic also contributed.

The Constitution, together with the current peace and stability in the country, put an end to the political transition and provided appropriate political, legal and constitutional conditions for implementing a programme of institutionalising a social state based on the rule of law.

As is generally known, consolidating democracy and constitutional transition is a slow process that must necessarily go through many phases and stages.

Started in the early nineties with the choice of a market economy and the adoption of a Constitution enshrining the opening to a multiparty system and the holding of pluralist democratic elections, this process continued, making it possible to strengthen democratic institutions and, especially, leading to the adoption of the Constitution in February 2010 by this multiparty parliament elected by the Angolan people. We have therefore completed an important and historic phase.

Yet I know that what we long for is to build a democratic, prosperous and modern nation. The precondition for achieving that goal is maintaining peace and national unity, having strong and capable state institutions (a good parliament, a good government and good legal authorities that all operate in compliance with the Constitution and the law), organising a democratic, pluralist and participative society and endowing the country with an efficient system of defence and security to guarantee the security of citizens and national security for development.

We have therefore started on a new road to progress and the most urgent task now is to ensure that the government, legislature and legal system are in keeping with the Constitution and, at the same time, to strengthen the capacity of public institutions, so as to meet the requirements of the fundamental tasks of the state and the new challenges and targets that stem from the norms provided for in the Constitution.

Therefore, the mainstays of strengthening state institutions should be a new organisational and structural culture, on the one hand, and, on the other, management based on goals and the assessment of results.

Thanks to the new political structures, we can already impart greater dynamism and rapidity to government activity in a more coordinated and efficient manner.

The government started immediately to adapt prevailing norms to the Constitution, promoting and approving laws on public procurement, public probity, the public heritage, money laundering, as well as the new law on the central bank and the presidential decree regulating the public investment programme.

These are legal documents that, in addition to strengthening democracy and transparent public management, have important lateral effects on fiscal equilibrium and monetary and foreign exchange stability.

Apart from this, their modernising effects will help to increase the confidence of investors in our country.

Next year we must also make sure that we adapt the electoral legislation for the holding of elections in 2012, that is, the electoral law, the law on election observers, the electoral code of conduct, the voter registration law, the law on political parties, the law on the financing of political parties and so forth. This will lead to greater democratisation of society, with the regular election of the nation’s representatives at every level, including local government when the conditions have been created, thereby ensuring the real and effective participation of citizens in the country’s political and social life.

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Distinguished deputies,

We acknowledge that there are shortcomings in our legal system, with norms that are out of keeping with current reality and with the building of a state based on the rule of law which, as we know, can only exist if it is based on justice.

Within the framework of state reform, the government plans initiatives, within no more than a year, to speed up the passing of laws and regulations to govern the organisation and functioning of higher courts, magistrate’s courts and so on and to increase the numbers of judges in these courts, as provided for in the Constitution, and to ensure the administrative and financial independence of courts.

There is a further series of adjustments and reforms in the legal system that must continue to be carried out, namely, reviewing the penal code, which has already been dragging on for years, reviewing the code of criminal procedures and all the criminal procedure legislation and reviewing the civil code.

With regard to international and multilateral relations, Angola pursues a good neighbourly foreign policy based on respect for the sovereign equality and territorial integrity of states and mutually advantageous cooperation.

Its stance on the most varied issues on the international agenda is guided by consistent positions and compliance with the basic principles that govern the functioning of the international community, to ensure perfect harmony between those principles and those that safeguard national interests in a globalised and ever more complex world.

In foreign affairs, therefore, Angola will continue to develop and strengthen relations of friendship and cooperation with reciprocal advantages for all parties involved.

At the same time, Angola will continue to maintain its inescapable calling of being a factor for peace, stability and development not only in the regions to which it belongs, like the Southern African Development Community, the Economic Community of Central African States and the Gulf of Guinea, but also in support of countries with which we have deep historical ties of friendship, as is now happening with Guinea Bissau.

Angola currently chairs the Community of Portuguese Language Countries and is taking part in the efforts made by that organisation, together with the Economic Community of West African States and with the support of the international community, especially the African Union and the United Nations, in the process of stabilising that sister country.

At the same time, the establishment of strategic partnerships with the Federal Republic of Brazil, the Portuguese Republic, the United States of America and, in future, the People’s Republic of China, is in keeping with our times and has to do not only with the urgent need for national reconstruction, but with the broader prospect of national development and projecting Angola internationally.

We shall continue to develop friendly relations with all countries in the world, based on mutual respect and equality.

With regard to civic, moral and environmental education, it can be seen that in a period of serious international crisis Angola was able to reconcile in a creative manner its international obligations in respect of peace, security and stability with the needs stemming from its national reconstruction and laying the material foundations for a process of sustained and rapid development.

From a brief review of the security situation in our country, it can be concluded that, although there are still a few threats and risks, it is generally stable and under control.

The appropriate institutions in the defence and security system have been working normally and carrying out their operational tasks, though with serious constraints stemming from organisational problems and shortages of personnel and technical and material resources.

Among the threats and risks to our country are inter-state and intra-state conflicts in Central Africa and the Great Lakes region, especially the DR Congo, where, owing to the proximity to our borders, the persisting conflict could easily affect or have consequences in our country.

Furthermore, external support for forces that still seek to destabilise the existing climate of peace, especially in Cabinda Province, disrupts and jeopardises the government’s continued efforts to carry out the unfinished tasks of the Memorandum of Understanding on Peace and Reconciliation, which will lead to the complete cessation of hostilities in that part of our national territory.

There are other risks in the networks of illegal immigration, drug trafficking and even international terrorism, which are always ready to take advantage of the slightest weaknesses to gain ground and expand their deals and crimes.

Violent crime, especially in Luanda, Benguela and Huila provinces, is also cause for concern for the government, which, through the national police, has been taking steps to reduce and control it.

With a view to the continued achievement of the goals of national security, it is therefore important to continue to implement the Angolan Armed Forces rebuilding plan, update the country’s military defence plan, develop the institutional capacity of the Ministry of the Interior, carry on with the development and modernisation of the national police, continue the process of reintegrating demobilised soldiers and complete the restoration of peace in Cabinda Province.

In this process, special attention should be paid to ex-servicemen, because the heroic efforts they made in the country’s difficult periods has made them entitled to the gratitude of all the people of Angola.

Last but not least, we should pay very special attention to the civic and moral education of our people, since the success of our programmes and projecting our image in the world largely depends on this.

The civil, moral and environmental education of citizens and peoples should make them understand the need to respect their fellow citizens and the property of others, to live harmoniously in society, to take care of public property and the environment and consciously contribute to public welfare.

Responsibility for this rests largely with the media which, apart from their role of informing, should also distinguish themselves by promoting our cultural identity and the ethical principles and moral and civic values that are already part of the acquired heritage of humanity.

Mr President of the National Assembly,
Deputies,

In short, the major strategic priorities for the next years, aimed at ensuring continued sustained development, are as follows:

  1. Preserving national unity and cohesion and consolidating democracy and institutions;
  2. Guaranteeing the prerequisites for development through financial stability and the transformation and diversification of the economic structure;
  3. Improving the quality of life and, consequently, improving the human development indices of Angolans;
  4. Giving incentives to the private sector, especially the Angolan business community;
  5. Strengthening Angola’s competitive involvement internationally.

In order to achieve these major priorities, we must, however, consider other big issues. What resources and sources of funds should we rely on? What is the quantity and quality of personnel we should train? What labour force will we need?

These issues are also being considered and dealt with and they are some of the great challenges that the Angolan nation must overcome in the next few years and I think Angolan nation will overcome and win.

Thank you very much for your attention.