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2007 Parliamentary Elections
"Defending Timor-Leste's independence"
18 June 2007
Opposition's decentralisation policy a recipe for waste and corruption
Opposition party policies to decentralise government are a recipe for
wastage, inefficiency and corruption, Timor-Leste's (East Timor's)
majority party FRETILIN said today.
Minister for State Administration Ana Pessoa, a FRETILIN parliamentary
candidate said opposition policies reveal a poor understanding of the
complex institutional issues involved in devolving power and financial
responsibility to local governments.
"To decentralize power it is first necessary to ensure that local
governments have the proper institutions and people with the right
technical skills. These elements must be in place to avoid wastage,
inefficiency and corruption," Ms Pessoa said.
She said the FRETILIN government completed a three-year study of
options for decentralization. Based on the findings of the study, the
FRETILIN government plans to create municipalities as the basis of
local government reform.
"Our study on decentralisation was completed after broad based
consultation with local communities, including suco (administrative
level) chiefs, suco councils and public servants," she said.
"After reviewing the study, the FRETILIN government decided to run
pilot programs in four districts: Bobonaro west of Dili, Lautem east
of Dili, Aileu south of Dili and Manatuto east of Dili.
"We will learn practical lessons about decentralisation through these
pilot programs. We can then proceed to set up municipalities
throughout Timor-Leste, each with its own capital as the
administrative centre. The aim is to create between 30 and 35
municipalities throughout the country by 2015."
Ms Pessoa, a former provincial judge in Mozambique and experienced
civil law jurist, added the FRETILIN government has already started
devolving responsibility on a small scale. She pointed to the
Community Development Fund launched by the Ministry of Agriculture in
May this year. Under this program each of Timor-Leste's 442 sucos
receives $10,000 USD from the government to spend on community
projects. She said local communities were also taking responsibility
for various small-scale water and power projects around the country.
Ms Pessoa said: "The devolving of real power to local government is a
new experience for our people. Decentralisation needs to be phased in
over the coming years so that mistakes are minimized and real benefits
flow to the grassroots."
For more information, please contact:
Ana Pessoa (+670) 723 0014