FRENTE REVOLUCIONÁRIA DO TIMOR-LESTE INDEPENDENTE
July 22, 2007
FRETILIN condemns secret plan to create monopoly for vital supplies in Timor-Leste
Aniceto Guterres, FRETILIN leader in parliament yesterday condemned the proposal by the Gusmao AMP government to create an Economic Stabilisation Fund using US$240 million of money from the Petroleum Fund. “It is a secret plan to create a monopoly in the supply of vital fuel and building materials, as well as vital rice and other foodstuffs, in the hands of one or two businesses linked to the ruling party and ministers in the government,” said Guterres.
“Information we have indicates this is part of a secret plan to deliver all these vital contracts into the hands of a few well-connected businessmen at the expense of others who would otherwise be able to compete to bring down prices, but cannot do so with the bulk the government is purchasing,” said Guterres.
Business people, including foreign investors, have complained to the FRETILIN leadership that everything is being channeled through one or two companies.
“When FRETILIN raised this both in the parliament and in the media, we provoked a vitriolic response from the Prime Minister but no real explanation. Even members of his own CNRT party say this deal must be explained thoroughly,” said Guterres.
“We are debating the revised budget now, which would increase the money the government will have by 122 per cent, from US$349 million to US$773.3 million. It will also involve taking money out of the Petroleum Fund beyond its Estimated Sustainable Income. Yet the government has presented inadequate justification to either the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council, an independent body nominated to oversee the fund and its sustainability, or to the parliamentary committee for economy, finance and anti corruption.
“Both these bodies say the government should not be authorized by parliament to withdraw the non-sustainable amount until the government provides such a justification,” added Guterres.
“We are not against helping our people against the shocks of the international food and fuel crisis. We are against using the crisis to create a fund lacking in financial controls and monitoring, without any proper planning, which is merely a Trojan Horse for collusion, corruption and nepotism,” closed Guterres.
The Economic Stabilisation Fund would give the government US$240 million to buy food, fuel and building materials that it would then sell to the public at a subsidised price. This is the concept that recently provoked public controversy because rice prices were neither stabilised nor lowered substantively by this mode of government intervention, especially in the districts where prices of rice and other foodstocks are exorbitantly high.
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