FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE
May 7, 2008
FRETILIN MPs walk out of parliament in protest
FRETILIN MPs walked out of yesterday afternoon's session (Tuesday 6 May 2008) of Timor Leste's Parliament in protest at attempts to prevent questioning of two government ministers involved in dubious commercial transactions worth many millions of dollars.
FRETILIN said the President of the National Parliament, Fernando Lasama Araujo misused parliament’s standing orders to restrict questioning of the Mr Mariano Sabino, Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries, and Mr Gil Alves, Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry, to one question per party.
FRETILIN parliamentary leader Aniceto Guterres said today he wanted to ask the Minister for Tourism, Commerce and Industry why a multi million dollar contract for rice importation was single sourced instead of through an international tender.
“The de facto Minister for Agriculture and Fisheries needs to confirm or deny reports that he has signed agreements granting foreign companies 300,000 hectares for rubber plantations and another 100,000 hectares for sugar cane for bio fuel, when our people are facing high prices for all food commodities and our country is still importing most of its rice needs,” Guterres said.
Guterres accused parliamentary President Lasama of misusing standing orders to protect the de facto Ministers and the de facto AMP government from being held accountable to the people's representatives on these very serious questions.
“This is contrary to parliamentary rules and the practice in the previous parliament. This is an undemocratic trend and shows how desperate the de facto government’s allies are becoming in the face of a wave of allegations of maladministration and highly questionable deals involving government tenders worth many millions of dollars,” added Guterres.
“These latest cases of maladministration follow revelations that Deputy Prime Minister Jose Luis Guterres, used public funds to increase his wife’s salary as a diplomat in New York, whilst he was Minister for Foreign Affairs and Cooperation. The money was used to purchase a grand piano.
“For over one week we have formally requested the parliament to call the de facto AMP government to attend parliament to respond to our queries about the level of success in spending the budget for the transitional period 1 July to 31 December 2007. But to date we have had no response. Given the restrictions by the President of the Parliament yesterday, we fear that our efforts to hold the government accountable on budget execution will be similarly thwarted,” said Guterres.
Despite the lack of quorum once FRETILIN and ASDT were not present, the parliament continued to proceed, another serious issue with the conduct of the President of the Parliament.
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