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The President's new year greetings for 2013: the reforms ahead
The speech Gabonese President Ali Bongo Ondimba delivered on 31 December was an opportunity to discuss some of the major measures that will be implemented in 2013. Focus.


The President's greetings to the nation are a moment citizens always look forward to. And the speech delivered by President Ali Bongo Ondimba on the last day of the year did not disappoint the Gabonese people. For, although he was delighted to mention the events that marked 2012, including the Africa Cup of Nations, the Head of State concentrated on laying down the goals for the coming months. Right from the outset, he stated: “My responsibility as President of the Republic obliges me to plot the course to achieve our ambitions, indicate the path to be followed and keep a watch over the key balances of our Nation. "
The restructuring of the CNAMGS will soon be complete
This is one of the reforms that has attracted the attention of the Gabonese people. The President did in fact indicate that the New Year would allow the “transfer of skills from the CNSS to the CNAMGS regarding health and maternity services". The transfer which "will complete the implementation of the universal health cover system in our country" will therefore give rise to the setting up of a private sector Health Insurance Fund. Following the Fund for the economically vulnerable and Civil Servants, this new Fund will complete the missions of the CNAMGS (National Health Insurance and Social Security Fund).
In this reform, the President also emphasised that he wished to create “an independent social security body in charge of managing pensions and family services for civil servants, to be part of the overall reform. This should lead to better legibility and consistency of the Gabonese social security system“.
Continuing the major work projects to boost employment
Ali Bongo Ondimba also spoke of the major work projects in progress which are intended to lead the country towards emergence by 2025. On the positive side, “the 6,000 new jobs that have been created in the public works sector and which are currently fittingly filled by young compatriots”, explains the President. The latter was also delighted at “the initial results achieved in the timber sector, which, in 2011 and 2012 underwent considerable growth in the number of transformation plants created and in the number of jobs generated."
The forthcoming arrival of the minimum retirement package
During his speech, the Head of State did not forget to mention the most vulnerable sections of the population, and in particular senior citizens. For those who can no longer meet their own needs, he decided to lend a helping hand. “I am instructing the Prime Minister, Head of the government, to oversee the setting up of a "minimum retirement package“, within the limits of the current budget, to manifest the Nation's solidarity towards senior citizens, by 30 June 2013. To these elders who have forged the basis of our country and laid the foundations of its future, I express our affectionate and respectful recognition."
Ali Bongo Ondimba also had a thought for all the women of Gabon, who “are the pillar of our society. They are the ones who live and sometimes face up to the difficulties of the household and provide solutions with faith and courage."
Imminent creation of a CEMAC commission
Lastly, the Head of State took advantage of the televised speech to express the importance he gives to his current role as President of the CEMAC (Commission of the Economic and Monetary Community of Central Africa). In order to reflect on the broad policy orientations to be conducted in Central Africa, Ali Bongo Ondimba wishes to bring together, “a deliberation commission comprising the political parties of the majority and the opposition". It will be set up in the near future and "should, within a period of no more than thirty days, present the results of its deliberations." 
Here, in any case, is an initiative that bears witness to the open-mindedness that should make 2013 a year full of success.
Also worthy of note: biometrics and the national corps of Volunteers for Emergence
Among the other announcements the President made, there was, of course, the organisation of the use of biometrics for the next local elections. The system should be operational very soon. “The aim will be, around the Prime Minister, Head of the government, to examine and propose, no later than 15 February, the conditions for the effective implementation of biometrics, in strict compliance with the legislative and regulatory provisions in force.” Furthermore, Ali Bongo Ondimba has launched an initiative which should strengthen the bonds of fraternity between the nation and its people. “I am considering the introduction of a national corps of Volunteers for Emergence starting in 2014. This civil corps shall be duty bound to be the crucible in which our young people shall learn to forge a link with a compassionate Nation." Over the next few months, the President is expected to define more clearly the contours of this original idea.
Two important appointments on the calendar
The President closed his speech with the announcement of two major events that will mark the year 2013. “The first will be a date that I hope will be the most open, lively and most characteristic of our democratic maturity: the local elections. 2013 will also mark the centenary of the arrival of Doctor Albert Schweitzer, a medical doctor, theologian and musicologist from Alsace, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952.“ Two dates that we will very soon be hearing more about.
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