Subject: East Timor's President urges for review of Western aid
also Australian foreign aid to East Timor 'wasted'
East Timor's President urges for review of Western aid policies
Last Updated: 21 hours 11 minutes ago
East Timor's president, Jose Ramos Horta has urged western countries including Australia to review their foreign aid policies.
Mr Horta has claimed most of the $US3 billion in aid pledged to East Timor, never made it to the people.
In a guest lecture at the University of New South Wales, Mr Horta said much of the money was spent on consultants, study missions, reports and recommendations.
Mr Horta says poverty actually increased in East Timor after the foreign aid was provided.
"Where they spent alot of it, they claim to have spent on training, capacity building schemes. Yes, we needed that and there has been some positive use to that," he said.
"But if that money was really used for capacity building in a proper way, every Timorese would have a PhD by now.
Australian foreign aid to East Timor 'wasted'
Updated July 29, 2009 12:06:01
The spotlight is again on foreign aid from Australia after comments by East Timor's president Jose Ramos Horta that foreign aid was being spent on East Timor but not in East Timor.
It was only in April that the Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd made similar claims about aid to Papua New Guinea, saying too much Australian aid was being spent on consultants' fees.
Presenter: Claudette Werden
Speakers: Dr Jose Ramos Horta, East Timorese president; Dr Tim Anderson, AID/WATCH, Australia; Mark Purcell, The Australian Council for International Development; Paul Barker, Institute of National Affairs (independent think tank), Papua New Guinea
* Listen: <http://www.abc.net.au/ra/connectasia/stories/m1770428.asx>Windows Media
WERDEN: East Timor's president Jose Ramos Horta is urging western countries, including Australia, to review foreign aid policies, because he claims that the A$3 billion that have been pledged to East Timor since independence have never made it to the people or been used to relieve poverty.
HORTA: Where they spent a lot of it, they claim to have spent on training, capacity building schemes. Yes, we needed that and there has been some positive use to that, but if that money was really used for capacity building in a proper way, every Timorese would have a PHD by now.
WERDEN: The Australian government has responded to president Ramos Horta's concerns - and essentially, it agrees.
GOVERNMENT STATEMENT: The government shares president Ramos Horta's desire for well targeted and effective assistance to improve East Timor's capacity to build the institutions of state, deliver basic services and reduce poverty.
WERDEN : AID/WATCH is an independent watchdog that has been vocal on the issue of boomerang aid - where aid money to foreign countries ends up funding Australian companies, consultants, and goods and services, rather than the people it's meant for. AID/WATCH spokesman, Tim Anderson, says aid programmes - including those of the World Bank and the Asian Development Bank - are expensive and wasteful.
ANDERSON: Very little education and training happens under our aid programmes, even though billions of dollars are spent, there are a lot of short term workshops, there's a very small number of scholarships, we are not even the top three of training partners with Timor Leste at the moment, . Indonesia, the Philippines and Cuba for example are far bigger providers of training to East Timor than Australia is. An AUSAID scholarship for example for a young student from Timor Leste, there's 20 of them per year, that's the government's current quota on it. It isn't resources that stops us training large numbers of people from Timor, Papua New Guinea, or Solomons, and it's not a lack of goodwill, it's something about our system and the way we do aid programmes.
PURCELL: You can make criticisms and I think it's right and appropriate for the president of East Timor to keep everyone on their toes, but I think people are working very hard and very seriously to actually improve the lives of people in East Timor.
WERDEN: Mark Purcell from The Australian Council for International Development, the umbrella organisation for Australia's non profit aid and development agencies. He says community organisations have strong standards surrounding aid delivery and the Australian government is moving in the same direction.
PURCELL: I think, in terms of where the Australian aid programme goes overall, I think, there will be changes around more focus on rural areas in the future, I think, there has been a focus within Dili in particular and that's because that's where the government is and there are particular needs there, but the president's comments around villages having great needs and a greater focus on working in villages and rural areas is being listened to and I would expect the Australian government would have a greater focus in those areas in the future.
WERDEN: In April of this year, the Australian prime minister Kevin Rudd claimed that aid money to Papua New Guinea had been misspent on consultants, rather than it going to teachers and health services. Paul Barker from PNG's Institute of National Affairs says its not just about money but better screening of staff.
BARKER: Sometimes they off load consultants into PNG that would be unacceptable in South East Asia and sometimes it has to be said that donor organisations are not that good at screening, their own staff haven't got the skills or the experience themselves to know a good consultant from a less good consultant if perhaps they say one.
WERDEN: But Mr Barker believes Mr Rudd's comments were a timely impetus for change.
BARKER: I think, there's an awareness within AUSAID and within some of the other donors that they have to cooperate better, I think there's increasing pressure on them to do so.
WERDEN: Do you thing those things have changed since prime minister Rudd made his comments or were they always going down that track?
BARKER: That probably enhanced the program. I think, this awareness was building up and I think that gave a little shock treatment, if you like, to encourage change to move along a little bit faster.