Subject: AFP: Australian businesses told to help East Timor with jobs

MELBOURNE, Australia, April 11 (AFP) - Australian businesses were urged on Tuesday to take a leading role in rebuilding the devastated East Timor, in particular through projects that employed East Timorese.

Representatives from various international organizations told a business seminar that creating employment in public and private sector projects was vital in helping the impoverished new nation recover from the devastation that occurred after last year's independence vote.

Asian Development Bank representative Sirpa Jarvenpaa said creating employment in East Timor was the major priority and would be essential in preventing further unrest.

"I think employment is the number one priority because the communities don't have cash; they don't have resources to obtain the necessary items, particularly in the remote areas," she said.

Joao Goncalves of the National Council of Timorese Resistance said he believed the future economic viability of the fledgling nation depended heavily on private sector investment.

He appealed to Australian businesses to take a leading role in investment and the training of unskilled East Timorese.

A total of 520 million US dollars has been pledged to East Timor in international aid for rebuilding and humanitarian needs.

Fernanda Borges of the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) urged Australian firms going into East Timor to "incorporate East Timorese in their businesses at every level."

World Bank representative Graham Barrett said Australian firms were well placed to meet many of the urgent needs in East Timor.

"We regard it as significant, because Australia is very close to East Timor and it has many of the areas of expertise and equipment that are necessary for the reconstruction of East Timor," he said.

"It's literally like a desert island there in both physical and human terms and people need all the help they can get."

The seminar was organised by the Australian government's aid arm, Austrade, the Department of Industry, Science and Resources and Westpac Bank. It will be repeated in Sydney and Brisbane later this week.


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