Statement by the Leader of the FRETILIN Parliamentary Group, Aniceto Guterres, on the debate and Vote on General Budget of the State for the period 1 July to 31 December 2007, on 8 October 2007.
People of Timor-Leste
The debate in the specificity which we have all witnessed in this national Parliament over the last days in this National Parliament has continued to arouse concerns in our FRETILIN Group with respect to the proposed General Budget of the State for the period 1 July to 31 December 2007, and with respect to which all of us parliamentarians are about to undertake a final and global vote on.
I would like to restate to everyone that the concerns expressed by us in our FRETILIN Groups political declaration yesterday (7 October 2007) remain valid to us and are maintained by us, with the exception of our statements relating to the issue of the veterans and the illegality of the Secretary of State for the Autonomous Region of Oecusse.
Still a big concern for us is the budget allocation for the establishment of a Task Force to Combat Poverty in the Office of The President of the Republic, a budget for which there has been neither any explanation nor justification given to us. None of us know for what purpose it is proposed to spend this money. Is it perhaps simply for distribution to the poor? If so, is this the effective means of combating poverty? Or will it simply create dependency which will forever impede people from rising out of poverty? Perhaps it will be for holding Open Presidency meetings over the next two months?
The government as the executive has the primary responsibility to combat poverty through its development program. Although the President of the Republic has a political responsibility to involve himself with this issue as with many others, because we have not been provided with any justification on the proposal, we can only say that it seems to us to simply be a proposal for a slush fund for arbitrary expenditure. This would result in the Presidency acting in a manner which would not be in keeping with the principles of transparency and accountability.
We were extremely saddened by the parliaments decision to authorise the government to transfer USD$40 million from the Petroleum Fund, disregarding the procedures established in the Petroleum Fund law to obtain prior approval from the Independent Petroleum Fund Consultative Council. This has resulted in a negative precedent for Timor-Leste which had previously been widely internationally recognised for its strong commitment to the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability in the management of the peoples petroleum revenues.
This has also illustrated that this de facto government has no commitment to reform or change as they had previously widely proclaimed during the lection campaign.
We all acknowledge that the issue of the internally displaced persons in our country is an extremely urgent and important issue for us all. In the past all political parties who are now represented in this parliament promised to resolve the issue of the displaced persons in the short term and criticised the previous FRETILIN for not having done so. They thought they could perform miracles. Now they are telling us we have to be realistic, and have allocated a meagre USD$2 million towards assistance for displaced persons, for such things as purchasing of new tents for them. It is clear that people who have already been living under tents for a long time now will have to continue to live under tents.
Our proposals for additional funding to provide assistance for and attempt to resolve the issue urgently was defeated by the de facto government and their proxies in the parliament.
On one hand they are saying that there is an existing lack of capacity to execute such a large amount on displaced persons in such a short period of time, but on the other hand we see them proposing to spend a very large amount of money on goods and services, even though they do not have a plan for its execution. From this we can clearly already see that they lack honesty, they do not have a moral conscience, they have already lost their sensitivity to these people who are undergoing hardship in our country. They have shown they do not serious on the issue of the displaced persons because they have failed to give them due importance in this budget.
Due to all of these concerns the FRETILIN Parliamentary Group opposes this law on the General Budget of the State.
Lastly, we hold grave concerns as to how they will execute such a large budget in such a short period of time involving an unduly large amount of money, even though it will simply involve spending. The FRETILIN Parliamentary group strongly doubts this Governments capacity to execute this budget. As this de facto Government says it can execute all of it, and are rejecting the need to reduce the large amount allocated to goods and services, we will expect there to be no carryovers, as they demonised the previous FRETILIN government for having previously done. Otherwise, we will expect that we will all turn out to in fact be devils and in doing so illustrating this de facto governments in capacity to govern, and that in accordance with what His Excellency Mr. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão said: Whoever steals even a quarter (25 cents), out! Whoever cannot do his job, out! Whoever does not know how to govern, out!!
FRETILIN will expect this de facto government to comply with its promise in this regard, in January 2008.
Aniceto Guterres, Leader of FRETILIN Parliamentary Group.
8 October 2007