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Head of State chairs extraordinary session of Gafsa governorate regional council

Posted by African Press International on July 18, 2008

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Head of State chairing extraordinary session

President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali chaired, on Wednesday morning, an extraordinary session of the Gafsa governorate’s regional council, at the opening of which he made the following address:

“In the name of God, the Merciful, the Compassionate

Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am chairing, today, this extraordinary session of the Gafsa governorate’s regional council, as part of the constant keenness to boost regional development and the continuous attachment to strengthen development and progress nationwide. It is a pleasure for me to extend to you, on this occasion, my regards, as well as to all the citizens of this governorate which is well known for its historical and civilisational heritage, for the riches of its natural resources, and its economic peculiarities, as well as the for its inhabitants’ vitality, patriotism and loyalty.

All these are so many advantages which entitle it to become an active and privileged development pole.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

In some delegations of the mineral basin, some events occurred as a result of some irregular practices committed by the executives of the Gafsa phosphate company, in their recruitment operations, arousing disillusionment and disappointment among the youths concerned by these operations.

While having taken the required steps to normalise, on due time, the situation, we do stress the fact that we are categorically opposed to any exploitation of these events or others, to harm the public security and damage the State’s or the private individuals’ properties, for our country is a country of the law, the country of justice, equity and human rights.

I do stress the fact, in these circumstances, that we have not yet solved the problem of employment, neither have we coped with all the applications of the higher-education graduates.

Nevertheless, we have managed, with our limited means, to bring down the unemployment rate, increase investments, step up the pace of job creations, and preserve, under all conditions, the tradition of dialogue and consensus which characterises our relations with the various concerned parties, at both the political and social levels.

We will carry on striving, with the same determination, to achieve balance, complementarity and mutual aid among the individuals, classes and regions.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Since the Change, the governorate has made the most of a permanent solicitude which materialised in multiplying by three the volume of investments, during the period ranging between the Seventh and Tenth Plans, to reach a total of more than 2,100 million dinars, which contributed to the modernisation of the various sectors and the achievement of a variety of gains in all fields.

In the agricultural field, public investments amounted to 272 million dinars which helped, in particular, to mobilise and make use of 77% of the region’s available water resources, by means of building three dams, digging 350 deep wells, a number of surface wells, the development of 9,000 hectares of irrigated areas, launching of the integrated development project in the mineral basin, which cost stood at about 46 million dinars, and the rehabilitation of several palm groves, extending over an area of 3,500 hectares, for a total investment of 12 million dinars.

In the same manner, the region’s infrastructure equipments have recorded continuous progress, thanks to a total volume of investments standing at about 200 million dinars, which includes, among other things, the building of the Gafsa-Ksar international airport, the development of 260- kilometre-long main road network, the construction of three bridges, the drawing and asphalting of 500 kilometres of byway tracks and the development of 15 hectares of industrial areas.

The education, training and higher-education sectors have, for their part, benefitted from a special care, through the creation of 56 primary schools, 38 secondary and high schools, which contributed to the improvement of the region’s schooling rate, raising it to more than 96% for the 6-to-14- year-old age bracket.

This, in addition to the promotion of the vocational training system, through the re-structuring of some of its branches and increasing its hosting capacity, as well as the creation of the Gafsa University which comprises today eight institutions attended presently by 12,000 students.

In the cultural field, the Gafsa culture complex was built, in the whole region eight public libraries were created. The achievements also include the edification of a museum, three open-air theatres, two regional music conservatoires and a centre for dramatic arts.

The interest taken in children, youth and sports also went on with the same intensity, as shown by the creation of a set of integrated youth centres, the building of November 7 sports complex in Gafsa, the turfing of five stadiums and the construction of a sports hall, a regional athletics centre, in addition to the launching of a nucleus of the higher sports and physical education institute and the setting up of a sports training centre and regional sports medicine centre.

In the field of public health, we focused attention on the increase of the number of hospitals, basic healthcare centres, emergency medicine departments and medical equipments, which contributed to the improvement of the indicator of the number of doctors per inhabitants, the ratio being, today, of one doctor per 1,623 inhabitants.

We have also managed to achieve several other gains in improving the citizens’ living conditions, the rural electrification rate having reached 99.6%, while the rate of drinking-water supply in rural areas rose to 99.5%, and that of the connection to the sanitation network to 63% in the urban area.

These accomplishments were strengthened by a set of additional projects that we decided to implement for the benefit of the region, at a total cost of 92 million dinars. In order to stimulate investment and promote private initiative, we incorporate all the delegations of the Gafsa governorate in the list of the regional development priority zones, which allowed them, in this way, to obtain the maximum of advantages, including the allowances to investment standing at 30% of the project cost for the new promoters.

Additionally, we have included several delegations on the list of the regions benefiting from encouragements granted to Saharan tourism. Specific advantages were granted, exclusively, to the delegations of the mining basin, in matters of industrial investment, hosting of tourist animation, in addition to the privileges of a fund for the reorientation and development of the mining basin, and the possibility to make the most of the interventions of the investment and development companies of the south and the midwest.

Concurrently, opportunities were made available to the region’s promoters by the Small- and Medium-Sized Enterprises Financing Bank and the Tunisian Solidarity Bank, in addition to other bodies that we ordered to set up in this field, including an enterprise nursery, a business centre and single window and a distance-employment centre.

These are so many initiatives with which we bolstered by the projects established for the benefit of the governorate of Gafsa, as part of the 11th Plan, to diversify its economic platform, boost job creation and energise the region’s competitiveness and continuously improve the people’s quality of life.

The volume of investments scheduled for the benefit of the region, as part of the 11th Plan, are about 851 million dinars, including 481 million dinars in public investments.

In order to mobilise more water resources for the region, an integrated plan was established in the agricultural field, thanks to the building of the Oued El Kebir dam, the creation and the strengthening of 844 hectares of irrigated zones, the refitting and development of several other irrigated areas, fitting of the wadis banks over an area of 15,000 hectares and setting up of 60 water sewage units and 100 installations for repairing rivers.

In this connection, we ordered to boost the agricultural activity in the mining basin delegations, by launching a second project of integrated agricultural development, worth a total amount of 25 million dinars, to strengthen the first project implemented during the 10th Plan, in such a manner as to extend the irrigated zones up to 3,460 hectares, develop the area devoted to olive growing, arboriculture, stock breeding and improve grazing by raising up to a total of 6,000 hectares, fight desertification through the edification of 200 kilometres of enclosures (“tabias”), achieve nine exploring wells and three wells of open drilling, equip four wells and electrify 40 surface wells.

Furthermore, we order to conduct a study on the integrated agricultural development project in the northern part of the governorate, for the benefit of 28 rural zones whose total population is about 168,000 citizens. In the industrial and technological development field, we took great care in including in the 11th National Development Plan a large number of projects that would further attract investments and create enterprises, improve the potential of production and satisfy the maximum number of job applicants, thanks to the extension of the Gafsa-based industrial zone up to 12 hectares and the creation of a new industrial area in Metlaoui, covering a 10-hectare area, at a total amount of 3.7 million dinars.

In order to give concrete shape to our keenness to offer greater investment opportunities to the Tunisian and foreign capitals, we order to establish an integrated industrial and technological complex, in each of delegation of the mining basin, over a area of 25 hectares for each complex.

Each of these complexes will be endowed with administrative spaces, a distance-employment centre, a call centre, industrial workshops, over a area of 6000 square metres, and a handicrafts village. Each complex will be, additionally, connected to the optical fibre network. Besides, we ordered to connect the Gafsa governorate to the natural gas network, at an average amount of more than 31 million dinars, and create an industrial zone in El Guettar and a handicrafts zone at Belkhir, for a total cost of 1.3 million dinars.

With a view to boosting employability in the region, we also order to reduce by 75% taxation enforced in matters of exploitation of State-owned stone quarries, provided that the first-transformation works be undertaken on the spot.

In order to diversify the region’s development sources, multiply them and increase the job-creation capacity, we order to allocate 300 million dinars to the of Mining Centres Re- orientation and Development Fund and to the Gafsa Phosphate Company, to help them to take part in the capital of the companies to be created, at a first stage, to hire more job seekers.

Cement works, offering 300 jobs, is to be set up ar a cost of 300 million dinars, as well as a higher phosphate triacid production company that will recruit some 400 workers, at a cost of 600 millions dinars. Not to mention the planned partnership between a group of Tunisian and foreign businessmen for the launching of projects in the sectors of agriculture, quarries products, manufactured industries and services.

In order to achieve balance between the various parts of the governorate, we order to develop four integrated development projects in the mining basin delegations, at an amount of 20 million dinars. In this connection, I avail myself with this opportunity to thank the owners of the industrial complex who showed readiness to invest in the Gafsa region, to implant firms there, in several branches of specialisation, and generate more 3,000 jobs.

While taking this laudable investment initiative, they did demonstrate in an eloquent manner the complementarity of the roles that exists between the public and the private sectors, and evidence the patriotic spirit that drives the Tunisian businessmen through their participation in the development work and its enrichment all over the country. Let me express to them my encouragements and appreciation.

Since we have constantly focused our attention on the promotion of employment, the diversification of these mechanisms and the creation of a greater number of labour days, in all regions, as part of the various intervention opportunities, we have devoted to this region an annual amount of 22 million dinars as part of intervention in favour of about 15,000 citizens.

In order to strengthen interventions in this region, we order to allocate an additional appropriation of 6 million dinars for the benefit of 5,000 job seekers, by means of increasing the number of labour days granted to the region and made available for the National Employment Fund’s interventions.

We also order to work out a training and upgrading programme for the benefit of the job applicants who could be hired by enterprises and as part of the scheduled projects.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We took great care, as part of the 11th Development Plan, to further integrate the region in its geographic and economic environment, through the strengthening basic infrastructure and linking the production sites with the large urban poles.

Thus, the Plan scheduled the re-fitting of 53 kilometres of roads, the improvement of 43 other kilometres, the building of a dam on Wadi el Kbir and the asphalting of 180 kilometres of rural tracks. In this connection, we order the fitting-out and reinforcement of the Moularès-Redeyef regional road, at a cost of 5.8 million dinars, as well as the construction of Gouifla- Borj Mzinda-M’dhilla track, at an investment of 1.5 million dinars.

In the tourism field, we order to include the region’s archaeological and ecological sites, as well as the civilisational and cultural heritage ones, in the tourist circuits, in such a way as to boost local development of the enclosed areas.

In this regard, we direct to adopt the projects providing for the inclusion of the Berber zones of Sened in the tourist circuit, to develop and promote the track connecting El Guettar Al Ahmar to Mtlaoui, and ensure maintenance of its equipments, while asphalting the track linking the Djebel Labiod transmission station and Sened Mountain, and creating a handicraft village in the El Guettar. The solicitude lavished on our human resources always tops our concerns.

We have also included in the 11th Plan the promotion of health services in the region, through the building of regional unit for the treatment of cancer and hematology diseases, and a regional service for treating cardio-vascular diseases, in addition to the re-fitting and creating new wards.

During the 11th Plan, we will carry on strengthening the education system, by means of creating an engineering studies preparatory institute, by structuring the professional training centre of Gafsa-Ksar and building three secondary schools and two high schools.

In order to grant greater interest to the youth sports sector in the region, preparations are under way for the maintenance of some youth centres and their equiping. In this regard, we instructed to build in Metlaoui a sports complex, at a cost of 1,250,000 dinars, to create a youth complex in Om El Khir, at a cost of 400,000 dinars, and replace four buses for the benefit of the region’s youths.

We order, also, to speed up completion of the extension works of the terraces of the Gafsa-based November 7 Sports Complex, and undertake the turfing of the Gafsa Gammoudi Stadium and the Redeyef stadium, and the re-turfing and electrification of the Metlaoui stadium.

In the cultural field, culture houses, show halls, specialisation clubs and public libraries will be created, as part of the 11th Development Plan. As to the improvement of the citizens’ living conditions, the 11th Plan provides for the extension of Gafsa and Redeyef sanitation stations, the renovation of some sanitation networks, as well as the construction of 15 drinking-water supplying projects in the rural areas, and the protection of the cities of Gafsa and Lala against floods. In order to strengthen the already adopted programmes, we direct to connect 2,400 families from northern Gafsa to the drinking-water network, at an amount worth 2.3 million dinars.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are concerned to forge ahead on the path of boosting a just and balanced development process in the country’s various regions, and the continuous improvement of the Tunisian citizens’ living standards, in all fields, by relying on our country’s means and potentialities, and also on our people’s determination to overcome hardships, to take up the challenges and win the stakes.

I am deeply convinced that the citizens of this region, like their fellow citizens in the other governorates, are aware of the immense efforts we are exerting for their benefit so that the development work, on the regional and local levels, be an essential factor of progress and enrichment of the national development work, and so that all Tunisians, nationwide, enjoy a decent life.

Thank you for your attention.”

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Korir\API\ETAP

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