|Subject: ABC: Prime minister rejects
criticism of his government
EAST TIMOR: Prime minister rejects criticism of his government 16/05/2003 15:54:23 | Asia Pacific Programs
As popular discontent continues to fester over unmet economic expectations in East Timor, Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has rejected criticism that his Fretilin government is too centralised and intolerant of opposing views. At the same time, he's also taken a swipe at Canberra, accusing some of wanting to make the world's newest nation a mere extension of Australia. His comments come as the government steps up moves to convince those outside the capital that it hasn't lost contact with its grassroots.
ALKATIRI: People often don't understand the situation in Timor, we won the election, and we are very tolerant and excessively tolerant in this country. With the majority we have in the parliament we can do everything we want. We are open, we are trying to work together with the people, with everybody. What these people in Australia most are trying to have in East Timor is a country completely an extension of Australia. I hope, I think that I hope that it's not the policy of the government. But there are some people trying to do it.
KEADY: Yesterday a man got up in the open government and he said the problem was that he felt there was a schism, the Prime Minister comes with his ideas, the President will come with his ideas. There is a concern that there might be a schism between the President and the Prime Minister. Do you believe that that will work against the government?
ALKATIRI: I don't think so, I think that the institutions in Timor L'este is improving their quality of working and governments, parliaments and presidents of the republic are now trying to understand a bit better the constitution, and once we understand the constitution, we really can know clearly what our competencies are and there's no problem. My relationship with the President now is the best and I do believe that the misunderstanding belongs to the past.
KEADY: The international community has criticised this government for being slow on investment, for being obstructionist regarding the need to get this country moving. Are you limiting the amount of investment, western investment in this country?
ALKATIRI: Not at all, this is a country that is starting from scratch. It means that we need before opening the doors for the investments, we need to create a condition the whole environments, for us and for the investors to know clearly what is our rights and their rights are, what our obligations and their obligations are. This is the reason why the investment law by itself means nothing. We are working now very hard on a package starting from the company laws, investment law, insurance law, bankruptcy law, the whole package will create a good environment for the investors, we need investors.
KEADY: This is my last question, how would you describe your relationship with the financial institutions? As I understand it there has been pressure on the government to take out a loan, the government has refused to do that. Do you believe the relationship with those financial institutions is a strong one?
ALKATIRI: Yes, the relationship particularly with World Bank and IMF are very good, and in relation to loans, I would like to make it clear that I'm not ideologically against loans. What I'm looking for is to improve the capacity of, to strengthen first the institution and improve the capacity of the civil servants and above all the management capacity of the civil servants. Of course in two, three, four, five years from now if we need to embark onto loans, concessional loans, we will do it. But when we feel that we are capable of managing the loans.
16/05/2003 15:54:23 | Asia Pacific Programs
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