Subject: XG: Development Partners Meet Welcoming Remarks by Pres Gusmao


Welcoming Remarks by H.E. Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão President of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste

On the occasion of Timor-Leste Development Partners Meeting

Dili, 18th May, 2004

Excellency, President of Parliament Excellency, Prime Minister Excellency, SRSG Excellency, President of the Court of Appeal Vice-President Kassum Members of the Diplomatic Corps Members of Parliament and Government Heads of Delegations of Development Partners

Ladies and gentlemen,

Another year has gone by and the Mid-Year and Annual Conferences with Donors have become an inevitable ritual, simply emphasizing our status as the poorest country in Southeast Asia.

We hope one day to reach a time of ‘fat cows’, where Timor-Leste can also take part in the panel of donors to humbly offer its contribution, small as it may be, to alleviate the suffering of fellow human beings, same as us, who are struggling for survival in their daily lives.

There, I am certain, the Timorese will not make a propaganda of their generosity, because they will know to speak of humanism and solidarity, as the sentiments that should prevail in this uneven world, of rich and poor, in the new Millennium which so thrills us in our speeches. There also, I am certain that the support we offer to those who are in greater need than us, will not be due to the argument that the poverty of others, places the security of Timor-Leste in danger, but because the smiles of the children of these countries will be the joy and comfort of our own children and will give meaning to our own wealth.

I recognize that we are in eternal debt to all donor countries, in an equal way, because for us, the act of giving a crumb from the only bread one has is worth more than giving 100 loaves of bread because one has 1000 in the oven. Forgive me for speaking this way, but we ourselves do not want to continue to act the eternal role of beggar; one more on the list of countries classified as unviable.

However, I believe that it is the status of being the youngest country, which you helped to raise from the ashes and establish itself on solid foundations of democracy, which brings you once again to Dili.

Thus, on behalf of the people of Timor-Leste, I wish to thank from the bottom of my heart, the presence of all the donor countries, International Institutions such as the World Bank, IMF, Asian Development Bank and the UN Agencies, whose equal and unconditional generosity have become vital to the building process of this State.

This being the weight of responsibility which nourishes our fighting spirit, in the new combat that we are engaged in to continue to build and strengthen our State, allow me to share with you my thoughts, as President of the Republic, in relation to one more year, the second of governing this country.

Ladies and gentlemen,

On 19th January 2004, in the meeting with the Diplomatic Corps, I raised the question of State Institutions, and urged that in 2004, we can take more vigorous steps to establish those not yet set up, and to strengthen the existing ones.

I called attention for greater technical assistance to Parliament, so as to enable it to completely carry out its obligations, as the Legislative Organ of the Nation.

I also referred to Justice, which will definitively depend on the principle of the supremacy of Law and consequently, on the credibility of the democratic process.

I alerted to the need for us to avoid looking only and exclusively towards the training of people, which without doubt is crucial, but we also need to pay attention to the minimal conditions required for them to work better, in order for us to also demand greater engagement and productivity. From accommodations to the District courts and to transport, from an improvement in working conditions of the Dili Court, to the urgent need for an interpreting and translation service, and to an increase in administrative personnel competent in installing highly needed equipment for efficiency of services; these efforts that support an over all system for building capacity in the Public Ministry should not be spared, so as to enable this State institution to inspire trust in the justice system, whether in relation to foreigners or even and above all to the internal level.

I now want to call attention to the discrepancy, which exists in salaries, when compared with positions of less degree of responsibility in other State institutions. And this does not help. And I repeat today what I stated on 19th January: It cannot be by the simple reason that the judges and other agents of the Public Ministry are still trainees, because we demand them to make decisions that are not of a trainee character or, in other words, that their decisions do not have a provisionary character, thereby subjected to revision, when the same are considered definite or permanent.

From the study conducted by the Government and World Bank, we all accept that the Government is the more consolidated institution in this country, while the others such as the Parliament, Justice and the Presidency, as is obvious, are the ones, which still need greater attention and support.

We understand that in democratic societies such as the one that we want to establish in Timor-Leste, there is a vital need to strengthen the institutional mechanisms of check and balance.

But if we look excessively or merely towards the rendering of services, which is without doubt important, I fear that we will continue to complain at the end of the next fiscal year that some State Institutions, foreseen in the Constitution, continued or became weaker, thereby not helping to create and sustain the dynamism which it intended to give to the process of building the Democratic State.

Sometimes, we become confused without knowing if we are demanding too much from ourselves or if we are demanding too little, when we think that capacity-building in Timor-Leste has to obey a more or less vertiginous rhythm, so that we do not continue to be a burden on donor countries. And this confusion arises precisely when we become aware that other countries, which have been independent for 30 years or more, need just as much or even more than us, capacity-building of their human resources, for the courts, for the administration, for security and so on.

And therefore, allow me to make an appeal here for you to continue supporting us in the areas that our budget cannot hold. I would say, for instance, international judges for the Courts, Constitutionalists for the Court of Appeal and for the Presidency of the Republic, Legal Advisors for the National Parliament, etc.

Ladies and gentlemen,

We all feel satisfied that the budget for the fiscal year of 2004 has been considered to be ‘a strong pro-poor focus budget’, with a reasonable execution of 64% until 31st March, 2004. However, the only 41% of budget execution in capital and development projects indicate either a lack of planning for execution or more likely, an absence of capacity to execute, taking into consideration that the expenditures for service delivery have already been undertaken.

We draw your attention to the fact that, already without the support of JEG, the maintenance of roads, will not only demand funding, but also ask greater capacity from our Government to handle.

We congratulate the Government for the efforts introduced in the understanding and assimilation of the need for transparency and accountability. The two workshops, promoted for this effect, were of great pedagogical use and we hope that mechanisms, which permit severe measures to combat indiscipline and corruption, can guide society to acquire greater confidence in the policies undertaken. The establishment of the Office of the Provedor will no doubt, stimulate the conscience of transparency and accountability in our acts.

I even believe that in defense of the interests of the State and of the values of the democratic process, to which we are all committed, there is a need for all of us, starting from the President of the Republic, to declare assets and incomes which each one possesses or is a beneficiary of. This would be a very positive sign, so that there is transparency in our acts and trust in the process.

Great appreciation goes to the Government for adopting a conservative principle in relation to the draft budget for the 2005 Fiscal Year, estimated to be USD 75,097,000, in a reduction of USD 4 million in relation to USD 79,113,000 of 2004 Fiscal Year. It is very good that there is this spirit of restraint of public expenditure and that it be a ‘pro-poor oriented budget’. However, I do not believe that if we give due attention to the State institutions, which will secure the Rule of Law and the democratic process in Timor-Leste, we are designing ‘a more or very strong pro-rich focus budget’. Because the question here is: is the strengthening of State institutions important or not? Is it or is it not important to have Justice functioning with the conditions and obligations demanded of the sector?

The Government deserves congratulations for the initiatives taken to reduce the deficit projected for the fiscal years of 2005-2007, in the amount of USD 126 million to USD 30 million, for the fiscal years of 2005-2008. The efforts dispensed in the good administration of taxes and in the efficient control of customs contributed towards a galloping increase in domestic revenue, thereby demonstrating a commitment from the Government for good management of resources.

And this was important for us to be able to think of our capacity to manage, even considering what may come from Bayu-Undang. However, firstly, we have to remember that one of the factors that we need to take into account was the very exceptional situation of the increase in revenue from the collection of taxes, because a majority of it was in respect to delayed taxes. And this alerts to the fact that, in the next fiscal year or fiscal years, the collection of revenue will merely follow a more normal course. Secondly, it has to be said that the uncertainties of estimates, in terms of revenue, common for the petroleum sector, suggests that there is still a need for donors to extend the TSP for the fiscal years of 2006 and 2007, with the same level of contribution which you generously offer presently.

Ladies and gentlemen,

With the end of TFET, we lament the delay (incomprehensible for us) in the implementation of some projects from this fund.

The decrease of 2% in the GDP in 2003, provoking the fall in 5% per capita in the GNI, demands that the Government should present a ‘pro-poor focus development program’ in the next and following years, from the adoption of pertinent legislation to a greater impetus in job creation.

In the prevision of the end of TFET, it was good to know that the Government is preparing Programs of Sectorial Investment for fourteen areas. As President of the Republic, I must welcome the inclusion of the following areas: development of the private sector, local governance, civil society and peace and reconciliation.

I take this opportunity to also remind the donors that in the next Fiscal Year, elections for community leaders will be held, and for this, your help is needed.

But I should again emphasize that it was very important to secure those areas I previously mentioned, in conjunction with those for the socio-economic development, as they are recognizably complimentary of the others.

As is also complimentary to the overall plan for the stability of the process, the issue of the Veterans. As we all know, with the support of the World Bank, UNDP and USAID, we established two Commissions, one for the Former Combatants and the other for the Veterans of FALINTIL. The total number collected is over 36,000, with a major percentage being the Former Combatants.

The report is being prepared and when ready, it will be sent to the National Parliament and to the Government, with possible recommendations in relation to the policy to be made. But, taking into account that the resistance in Timor-Leste had its own particularities, different from other wars, there is the need to proceed with the same processes of collecting data, for the components which did not belong to the Armed Forces, being the civil elements, who died during the war and the members of the Clandestine Organization, alive or deceased.

I cannot say that the key question to resolving these problems lies in the conferring of recognition. Decorations will be important but they will not be everything. It will be up to the Government to clearly examine the perspectives so that the people do not feel marginalized from the development process.

However, coming back to the issue of recognition, we have to acknowledge that we will need the support of the donors for this to occur. Meanwhile, I hope that with the experience acquired from the work of the two Commissions, we can warrant the same attention and availability of the World Bank, UNDP and USAID to begin again, in the next months of July or August, the work on the survey of data on the civil elements and clandestine organization.

Ladies and gentlemen,

I know that you accompany, step by step, the general situation of the country; its needs, its shortages, its difficulties and all the good and mistakes we have made.

I believe that you are imbued with the spirit to understand the concerns of our people in relation to this difficult and perhaps slow process of building the State.

I wish to take this opportunity to affirm here that we have a people who possess extraordinary character, a fighting people who know how to be tolerant, and a demanding people who also know to be reasonable. And it is these people to whom we pledged to serve, and this demands from us greater responsibility and commitment each time. And it is these people who deserve your continued and valuable support.

Thank you for your attention.

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