African Business: What steps has the government taken to promote a stable business environment in Guinea Bissau?
Raimundo Pereira: When this government took office in 2008, our objective was political stability and sustaining democracy while promoting ourselves internationally and to international institutions, including the World Bank and IMF, to find foreign direct investment. There has been progress: GDP rose 3% in 2009 and we are aiming for over 5% by 2013. These figures are conservative, we can do much better if we increase the exploitation of phosphate and bauxite. We also want to boost the agricultural and tourism sectors.
Our growth has begun. We have the confidence of the international community, the IMF and the World Bank. We have benefitted from a loan from the IMF and from 95% debt write-offs.
How are you building democracy?
In 1993, we held one of the first fully-democratic elections in Africa - we were the example. Our democracy is built on the fact that all parties have the right to access all organs of information, television, radio and media.
We have lots of private radio and newspapers. There is no censorship; the press is free and access to news and radio is very free.
The law guarantees access and the regulator, the National Council for Social Communications (CNCS), is empowered to investigates if a political party is denied access.
How will you redefine the role of the military in the future?
We have laid the foundations to prevent instability. There is a mutual agreement between the government and the army that the military stays in their place and everybody fulfils their roles. We are working for democratic stability and all parties are working to combat poverty. Our objective is to make the security forces (army and police forces) function in the same model: there is a retirement age and a pension fund. The process has been supported by the EU, ECOWAS and Angola; the government has made its contribution."
In September, Prime Minister Carlos Gomes Junior asked for help to control the illegal drugs trade. What is the current status?
With the government in place, the drug trade has already diminished. Our focus is to consolidate the police resources to control it.
We are training special forces with the help of our partners. We don't hear people talking about drugs any more. We want international cooperation because criminal activities are an international problem and it is not just Guinea-Bissau...