Subject: KY: E. Timor party leader accuses aid groups of profiteering

E. Timor party leader accuses aid groups of profiteering SYDNEY, Jan. 6 Kyodo

Some international nongovernmental aid organizations are profiteering in East Timor by importing alcohol and other products and selling them to local residents at inflated prices, Timorese Socialist Party leader Avelino da Silva said Thursday.

Da Silva, who is in Sydney attending a left-wing political conference, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio that East Timorese workers are also being exploited with poor rates of pay.

Australian entrepreneurs have opened hotels and other businesses in Dili without seeking permission and some nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) are importing beer into East Timor, said da Silva, who is a member of the territory's National Consultative Council.

'Time will prove which NGOs are getting rich in East Timor, which NGOs are doing business in East Timor, ' he said.

'(They) came with the flag of humanitarians, but behind it (they are) doing business.'

On Wednesday, 300 protesters picketed the offices of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor demanding better pay and measures to create jobs and bring inflation under control.

Da Silva said many East Timorese are paid just 20,000 rupiah (2.70 U.S. dollars) by foreign organizations for a day's work, which he said was not enough to live on.

'Twenty thousand rupiah...one kilo of rice is 15,000 rupiah, one kilo of meat is 45,000, one kilo of sugar is 10,000. How can people survive with 20,000 per day?'

The Australian Council for Overseas Aid (ACFOA), the coordinating body for Australian NGOs, rejected da Silva's claims, saying humanitarian organizations have saved many lives in East Timor and are not responsible for the poor living conditions there.

ACFOA Director Janet Hunt said there are 'gross inequities' emerging in the territory as private companies move in to do business. She emphasized, however, that NGOS should not be blamed for the current poor standard of living in the territory.

'The East Timorese have some genuine concerns about gross inequities emerging in the country as many private companies move in to exploit the money-making opportunities,' she said.

'There are not enough jobs for the East Timorese people, and most are extremely poor, but suggesting that nongovernment aid groups are not doing the right thing seems a bit harsh,' she said.

Hunt said Australian NGOs paid their East Timorese staff according to employment guidelines developed in collaboration with East Timorese leaders.


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