My fellow citizens

Tomorrow, April 4, 2020, we celebrate the 60th anniversary of our country's accession to international sovereignty.

To each and every one of you, I extend my warm congratulations.

I greet our veterans with respect and affection. Your immense sacrifices, dear veterans, will forever remain engraved in our hearts and our collective memory.

May your example inspire our youth and sow in every child of our country the seed of patriotism that nourishes the destiny of great nations.

To you, officers, non-commissioned officers and non-commissioned members, I renew my confidence in your missions in the service of the Nation and peace in the world, often far from your families. These missions are not without risk.

I salute the memory of our fallen soldiers and wish the wounded a speedy recovery.

To the families of the deceased and the wounded, I want to assure them that the State will always remain at their side.

My fellow citizens

This year we celebrate sixty years of newfound freedom and constantly revitalized fraternity.

We owe this peaceful and friendly journey to our common desire for common life, sheltered from the turbulence that tears people apart and crumples their destiny.

This legacy of the elders commits us to hold fast the torch of freedom, peace and national unity, so that it may continue to illuminate our path and that of future generations.

A great civil and military parade was to mark the brilliance of our 60 years of independence.

But the exceptional circumstances related to the severe COVID-19 pandemic do not allow such an event.

Instead of the parade, I will preside tomorrow, at the Palace of the Republic, a ceremony of raising colors, sober and symbolic.

All other events initially planned are cancelled throughout the national territory.

In the context of the fight against COVID-19, the theme of this year's Independence Day is "The Role of the Defence and Security Forces in Managing Pandemics and Other Disasters". This is a reminder that our Defence and Security Forces, faithful to the Army-Nation concept, are body and soul with the Nation, and feel its every pulsation.

Thus, beyond the operations related to the state of emergency, the Army also supports our valiant health personnel, whose availability, dedication, courage, competence and above all professionalism I salute.

This COVID-19 pandemic, unprecedented in its brutality, its magnitude and its paralyzing effects, provides sufficient information on the new threats to the nation-state.

Our Defence and Security Forces must therefore adapt more to dealing with these perils, both strategically and operationally.

I will continue to strengthen the capabilities of our Armed Forces to this end.

Faced with this unprecedented pandemic that we are experiencing, I am reassured that all our forces, all our intelligences are united in the same momentum of struggle.

The broad consultations I held last week show that our Nation's strengths remain strong.

Let us not let our guard down.

Let us remain mobilized in the observance of the rules of individual and collective hygiene. Let us respect the measures enacted by the state of emergency.

Let's limit our travel.

Let's stay home.

Let us take this disease very seriously

Let us avoid stigmatization, for a disease that is certainly very contagious, but not at all shameful.

Report any suspected case to the health services for early management.

It is by observing these rules that we will avoid a general spread of the virus that our health structures will not be able to contain.

My fellow citizens

Like everywhere else, our economy is bearing the brunt of the impact of COVID-19.

Sectors such as tourism, hotels, restaurants, transport, trade, culture, buildings and public works, among others, are severely affected.

Our sustained economic growth over several years is brutally slowed down and will fall from 6.8% to less than 3%.

But tonight, my thoughts are especially with all those who are suffering from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis.

I am thinking of the millions of fathers, mothers and breadwinners of families threatened with precariousness.

I think of our diaspora, so generous to the Nation and now tested.

I am thinking of the many companies and their employees, all victims of this unforeseen crisis. I want to tell everyone that the state will not abandon you.

Faced with the urgency, and pending a comprehensive assessment of the effects of the crisis on the national economy, I have set up an Economic and Social Resilience Program, in order to strengthen our health system and support our households, our diaspora, our companies and their employees.

This program is divided into four axes.

First, support to the health sector to the tune of €64.4 billion, to cover all expenses related to the COVID-19 response.

Secondly, strengthening the social resilience of populations.

The State will cover the following expenses:

– 15.5 billion, for the payment of electricity bills of households subscribing to the social bracket, for a bimesttre; approximately 975,522 households;

– 3 billion, for the coverage of the water bills of 670,000 households subscribing to the social bracket, for a bimestre;

– 69 billion, instead of the 50 billion initially planned, for the purchase of food for the benefit of one million eligible households;

– 12.5 billion, to help the diaspora.

Third, the state will safeguard macroeconomic and financial stability to support the private sector and maintain jobs through a liquidity injection program with fiscal and customs measures.

Thus, 302 billion will be devoted to the payment due to the suppliers of the State.

Payment rules and priorities contributing to the objective of economic stability will be published and known to all companies.

The latter will undertake to maintain wages.

An envelope of 100 billion will be specifically dedicated to direct support for the sectors of the economy hardest hit by the crisis, including transport, hotels but also agriculture.

Similarly, in relation to the financial sector, the State will set up a financing mechanism to the tune of 200 billion, accessible to affected companies, according to a simplified procedure.

The State will reimburse VAT credits within a shorter period of time to deliver cash to companies.

Tax rebates and suspensions will be granted to companies that undertake to keep their workers in business for the duration of the crisis, or to pay more than 70% of the salary of employees made redundant during this period.

This liquidity facility concerns deductions from wages and social contributions paid by private sector enterprises to the Social Security Fund and IPRES.

For the implementation of this measure, the administration will set, in full transparency, the rules concerning the commitments of the State and the responsibility of companies.

Small and Medium-sized Enterprises with a turnover of less than or equal to 100 million CFA francs, and companies operating in the sectors most impacted by the pandemic, including tourism, catering, hotels, transport, education, culture and the press, will benefit from a deferred payment of taxes until 15 July 2020.

As part of the investment support, there will be an extension of the general deadline for payment of suspended VAT collected by customs and tax services from 12 to 24 months; which represents a payment deferral of 15 billion over the year 2020. A partial remission of the tax debt recorded on 31 December 2019, due by companies and individuals, will be granted for a total amount of 200 billion.

Similarly, the State will suspend the recovery of the tax and customs debt of the companies most affected by COVID-19.

In return, they will have to undertake to maintain the salaries of their employees or to pay more than 70% of the salary of employees made redundant. Companies and individuals who support the FORCE COVID-19 in the form of donations paid into the account opened at the Treasury, will be able to deduct these donations from their future tax result.

I also ordered a reorganization of the budget through cuts to operating and capital expenditure deferred; which corresponds to a saving of 159 billion CFA francs.

In addition, the government will secure $178 billion to partially cover crisis-induced budget revenue losses.

Fourthly, the Economic and Social Resilience Programme will ensure the country's steady supply of hydrocarbons, medical products, pharmaceuticals and basic necessities.

The government will pay particular attention to combating any artificial shortages and undue price increases.

All expenses related to the implementation of the Economic and Social Resilience Program will be covered by the COVID-19 Response Fund, FORCE-COVID-19, with

a trillion FCFA, financed by the State and voluntary donations.

On behalf of the Nation, I thank those who have already contributed to FORCE-COVID-19: private sector, individuals and development partners. I invite all those of good will to join in this outpouring of national solidarity.

In order to ensure the best conditions for inclusion and transparency, force-COVID-19 will be supervised by a Steering Committee that will include representatives of the State, the National Assembly, all sensitivities combined, and civil society.

Moreover, this crisis must also make us think more about our limitations and vulnerabilities.

We have made great strides in agricultural production to ensure our food sovereignty.

But we still need to produce more, and consume better Senegalese to be less dependent on external markets. I am particularly keen on the accelerated implementation of the Rice Self-Sufficiency Programme.

My fellow citizens

In a global context marked by new cross-border threats such as COVID-19, the vulnerability of the nation-state makes our country's attachment to Pan-Africanism even more relevant.

Because African unity is a top imperative for us, I will relentlessly pursue my efforts at the sub-regional and continental level for a common front of Africa in global governance and addressing the impact of COVID-19. When a crisis hits all economies, the weakest are obviously the most affected.

I therefore reiterate my appeal to bilateral and multilateral partners to support our efforts by cancelling public debt and rearranging private debt according to mechanisms to be agreed.

Moreover, the turmoil that is shaking the world has finally revealed the fragility of all countries and their common vulnerabilities. So, it's time to rethink the order of priorities.

It is time to work together for a new world order that puts people and humanity at the heart of international relations.

Together, my fellow citizens, let's hold on. Together, let's stand up and fight.

Together, let us stay the course on the objective of emergence, through the cult of work, discipline and civics. In the long time of a Nation's life, the 60th anniversary of our independence is less a culmination than a symbolic step; a stop to reinvigorate our solidarity and resolute march towards a better future. We are in the prime of the age that opens the age of the beautiful season. And history teaches us that it is by undergoing the test of fire that iron gains in brilliance.

The same is true of the Nation for the safeguarding of its freedom.

Freedom is an everyday struggle.

And it is to the test of this struggle that a people tests its ability to overcome adversity to remain free and realize its destiny.

United and united, I have faith in our determination to raise our capacities to the height of our ambitions to accomplish our great purpose.

Long live Senegal at peace, ever more united, freer and more prosperous! Good evening and Happy Independence Day.