Subject: East Timor opposition slams 70-million-dollar infrastucture plan

East Timor opposition slams 70-million-dollar infrastucture plan

Posted : Thu, 24 Sep 2009 11:05:20 GMT

By : Andrew Langley


Dili - East Timor's opposition on Thursday blasted a 70-million-dollar infrastructure package unveiled by Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao's government as a show of incompetence and open invitation for corruption. "It's a very crazy programme; this government has no plan and programme at all," Fretilin Party Secretary-General Mari Alkatiri said after delivering a speech at the democratic governance forum organized by the United Nations on Thursday.

The so-called referendum package, unveiled on the occasion of the 10th anniversary of East Timor's voting for independence from Indonesia, has allocated a budget of 70 million dollars for 774 projects in East Timor's 13 districts.

Projects include fixing roads, building hospitals and schools as well as improving sanitation.

Hundreds of East Timorese entrepreneurs are signing up to participate in the programme which has no established tender process or selection mechanism in place, Alkatiri said.

"I have no doubt that nothing will happen besides corruption," Alkatiri said.

However, Gusmao brushed off the criticism, claiming the programme would accelerate rural development and infrastructure building in the poor nation.

"There is no corruption, this package is to prevent corruption because most of the companies are getting a chance to be involved in public investment," Gusmao said.

East Timor's total budget for 2009 is more than 600 million dollars, but the budget execution has fallen below target, allowing the cabinet to transfer 70 million dollars to the package from other projects.

"This is illegal, they are drawing money from a specific heavy oil project. This really shows lack of competence and lack of planning," Alkatiri said.

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