Subject: LUSA: Dili ´Only` Needs Euros 360 Million Until 2005

12 Dec 01 23:47 East Timor: Dili ´Only` Needs Euros 360 Million Until 2005

East Timor will need about euros 360 million in foreign aid in the coming three years, it was announced Wednesday at the end of a two- day donors conference in Oslo. Earlier Portuguese government estimates had pointed to a figure of more than twice this amount.

East Timor`s Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri told Lusa that the total amount needed from donor nations was USD 330 million (euros 360 million). About USD 150 million would be destined for the state budget, with the remaining USD 180 million being reserved for investment, Alkatiri explained.

If all goes according to plan, the independent Asian nation will begin reaping the benefits of oil and gas revenues from reserves in the Timor Gap by 2005. International aid by that time should not be needed. By then, Timorese leaders hope to have a balanced economy, without any budget deficits, so oil receipts can be channeled into investment, rather than be used to plug budgetary holes.

Alkatiri said that the figures presented by his delegation in the Norwegian capital had "impressed the donors" for being "low". He thought this could have been one of the reasons that led all the representatives of the 23 nations present to guarantee continuing financial support to the territory`s recovery.

Timor`s head of government said he had been surprised how receptive representatives had been to the fact that, as of now, it is the Timorese authorities they must deal with instead of the UN, which had handled all matters since taking over the government of the territory at the end of 1999.

"After the presentations we made, reading the documents and hearing our proposals, they were convinced", said Alkatiri.

The chief UN administrator in East Timor, Sergio Vieira de Mello, highlighted the planning work undertaken by the new all- Timorese government. It was only three months since the elections for the constituent assembly had taken place, he added.

They "are competent and responsible", said the Brazilian diplomat.

CJB -Lusa-

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