22 October 2022

LH Konsidera Proposta Orsamentu Estadu ba 2023 Ignora Realidade Situasaun Finansas Estadu

 Link to this blog in English 

Iha loron 18 Outubru 2022, ONG La’o Hamutuk hato'o submisaun ida  ba Deputadu/a sira iha Parlamentu Nasionál (PN) kona-ba proposta Orsamentu Jeral Estadu (OJE) ba tinan 2023. Ho submisaun ida ne’e, ami hakarak atu kontribui ba avaliasaun no diskusaun kona ba OJE 2023 hodi bele realiza orsamentu ne’ebé sustentável no haktuir nesesidade povu nian.

Debate Parlamentár durante periodu orsamentál kada tinan, tenke sai hanesan oportunidade polítika atu Membru PN, Governu no públiku uza ba avalia, diskute no dezeña planeamentu ne’ebé estratéjiku no nesesáriu hodi hatán ba problema sira ne’ebé Povu no Nasaun enfrenta tinan barak.

Pontu importante sira ne’ebé La’o Hamutuk hato’o liu husi submisaun hanesan tuir mai:

Sustentabilidade

Realidade situasaun finansiamentu estadu iha perigu nia laran, no La’o Hamutuk fó ona avizu iha tinan barak nia laran. Iha proposta OJE 2023, Governu aprezenta senáriu ida hodi prolonga vida util hosi Fundu Petrolíferu ate 2045. Signifika sei iha oportunidade boot ba governu atu diversifika ekonomia hodi adia krize ne’ebé bele mosu bainhira hasoru rai naruk fiskál (fiscal cliff) ne’ebe bainhira Fundu Petrolíferu mamuk ona, bele akontese iha tinan 2034 tuir predisaun Ministeriu Finansas nian. Tuir modelu sustentável liu ida ne’ebé governu aprezenta iha Livru Relatóriu Proposta OJE 2023, atu prolonga Fundu Petrolíferu to’o 2045, presiza redús despeza kada tinan 3% to’o 2034.

Maibé iha tabela balun iha livru OJE hatudu despeza inklui levantamentu Fundu Petrolíferu sei sa’e kada tinan to’o 2027. Nune’e ami hanoin katak maske governu rekoñese nasaun ne’e iha perigu ba monu iha rai naruk fiskal, maibé kontinua la fó importánsia no falta atu responde ba realidade ida ne’e. La iha valór atu diskute de’it modelu sustentável se la implementa.

Ami mós observa katak projesaun jerál ne’ebé Governu konsege fornese la iha konsisténsia, no sujere atu fornese ba PN no públiku projesaun loloos kona ba despeza globál no kustu ba kada program ba tinan haat ba oin, atu ajuda kada Deputadu/a foti desizaun matenek.

Dependénsia ba Petróleu

Iha submisaun ba PN, La’o Hamutuk nota katak agora daudaun Timor-Leste depende de’it ona ba investimentu Fundu Petrolíferu iha merkadu finanseiru internasionál, ne’ebé ita kuaze sofre ka lakon ona biliaun $2 resin iha tinan ne’e. Infelizmente, livru OJE falta atu deskreve ho loos risku sira, no senáriu sira kona ba Fundu Petrolíferu kontinua asume retornu 4.1% ba futuru no falta atu konsidera posibilidade ba retornu investimentu negativu ka ki'ik ba futuru.

Maske iha tinan barak nia laran, Fundu Petrolíferu finansia programa no atividade estadu durante ne’e, maibé infelizmente ita la konsege kaer oportunidade atu harii sistema ekonómiku ida ne’ebé produtivu, sustentável no diversifikadu. Governu kontinua mehi katak reseita indústria mina no gas sei ajuda nasaun ne’e nian ekonomia ba tempu naruk hodi ignora dezenvolve setór produtivu no sustentável. Ho nune’e, ami husu Deputadu/a atu rekoñese katak setór petróleu ho hanoin katak setór ida ne’e sei la resolve problema sira ne’ebé ita hasoru hela no sei falta atu lori benefísiu ba povu.

Transparénsia no Akontabilidade

Transparénsia no akontabilidade tenke kontinua sai prioridade iha governasaun no estadu ida ne’e. Infelizmente, ami observa frakeza balun iha implementasaun transparénsia iha prosesu orsamentál ida ne’e.

Por ezemplu, website hosi Parlamentu Nasionál ne’ebé la funsiona, no kona-ba 'audiénsia públiku‘ ne’ebé iha realidade la loke ba públiku. La’o Hamutuk mós sujere atu mantén pratika di’ak balun ne’ebé liu ona hodi prodús livru proposta OJE iha lingua Tetun no Ingles, la’os Portugés de‘it.

Hanesan sosiedade sivíl, triste tebes katak la hetan oportunidade atu fó testemuña iha audiénsia ne’ebé Komisaun C PN realiza. Ami hanoin katak prosesu orsamentál sai forte liu ho partisipasaun husi sosiedade sivíl, no enkoraja atu PN bele hadi'ak liu tan espasu ba ami no públiku hodi fornese analiza no hariku liu tan idea antes debate ho Governu.

Ministériu Finansas presiza klarifika orsamentu FCLN, no tenke konsidera FCLN re-apropria hosi 2022 ba OJE 2023 atu la halo konfuzaun ba públiku.

Prioridade no Estratéjia

La’o Hamutuk kestiona kapasidade Governu atu realiza medida 275 ho kualidade, konsidera nivel ezekusaun iha pasadu no mós realidade katak tinan oin Membru Governu barak no mós sira nia staff sei ba halo kampaña polítika. Di’ak liu fó prioridade ba programa ne’ebé realistíku tuir kbiit no rekursu umanu ne’ebé iha atu garante duni ezekusaun no kualidade.

Alokasaun ba setór sira ne’ebé liga diretamente ba dezenvolvimentu rekursu umanu (edukasaun, saúde, bee mós no agrikultura) hetan de’it 16% husi OJE tomak. Nune’e ami enkoraja Deputadu/a sira atu diskute ho kle’an ho Governu durante debate orsamentu.

Atu realiza orsamentu ne’ebé efikás, PN bele hametin fali prosesu avaliasaun programa atu asegura iha duni benefísiu ba povu, no atu revee fali alokasaun orsamentu balun ne’ebé seidauk iha evidénsia kona ba benefísiu. 

LH Considers that the Proposed 2023 State Budget Ignores the State’s Actual Financial Situation

 Liga ba artigu ida ne'e iha Tetum 

On 18 October 2022, the NGO La’o Hamutuk sent a submission to the Deputies in National Parliament about the proposed General State Budget for 2023. With this submission, La’o Hamutuk wants to contribute to the debate on the 2023 budget so that it will be more sustainable and responsive to people’s needs.

The annual Parliamentary debate about the budget is an opportunity for Members of Parliament, Government and the public to evaluate, discuss and design plans which are strategic and necessary to address the problems which have confronted our nation for years.

Our submission includes the following main points:

Sustainability

The real situation of state finances is already precarious, as La’o Hamutuk has advised for many years. The Ministry of Finance Report on the proposed 2023 budget presents one scenario to extend the life of the Petroleum Fund until 2045. This would give more time for the government to diversify the economy to delay the crisis which will come when we encounter a fiscal cliff because the Petroleum Fund is used up, which the Ministry of Finance projects will happen in 2034. According to the most sustainable model which maintains the Petroleum Fund until 2045, spending needs to be reduced by 3% every year through 2034. But tables in the budget books show spending, including withdrawals from the Petroleum Fund, increasing every year through 2027 (with no information after that). 

Therefore we think that even though Government knows that we are in danger of falling over a fiscal cliff, it continues not to see it as important, and fails to respond to this reality. There’s no value in discussing a sustainable model if it is not implemented.

We also observe that Government projections are inconsistent and suggest that they provide Parliament and the public with more accurate projections of total spending and the cost of each program for the next four years.

Petroleum Dependency

Timor-Leste now depends mainly on the investment of the Petroleum Fund in international financial markets, where it has lost more than $2 billion already this year. Unfortunately, the budget books fail to describe this risk accurately, and their scenarios about the Petroleum Fund continue to assume future returns of 4.1%/year, while failing to consider the possibility of lower or negative returns. 

Although the Petroleum Fund has financed state programs and activities for many years, unfortunately Timor-Leste's leaders did not use that opportunity to build an economy which is productive, sustainable and diversified. Government continues to dream that revenues from the oil and gas industry will support the economy for the long term, while ignoring the development of sustainable and productive sectors. Therefore, La’o Hamutuk asks the Deputies to recognize that petroleum will not resolve the problems which we confront, and is failing to bring benefits to our people.

Transparency and Accountability

Transparency and accountability should continue to be  priorities for this country. Unfortunately, we see weaknesses in implementing transparency in this budget process.

For example, Parliament’s website does not function, and ‘public’ hearings are not open to the public. We also suggest maintaining past good practices, such as producing budget books in Tetum and English, not only in Portuguese.

As civil society, we were very disappointed not to get the opportunity to testify in a hearing of Parliament Committee C. The budget process is stronger with the participation of civil society, and we encourage Parliament to improve space for us and the public to provide analysis which can further enrich ideas before the debate with the Government.

We also suggest that the Ministry of Finance should clarify the budget of the National Liberation Combatants Fund (FCLN), because the repetition of the appropriation to FCLN in both the 2022 and 2023 budgets causes confusion.

Priority and Strategy

La’o Hamutuk doubts that the Government can carry out the budget's 275 measures with quality, considering past execution levels and that many Government members and staff will be engaged in political campaigns next year. It would be better to prioritize programs which are realistic, according to abilities and human resources, and which can really be delivered with execution and quality.

The sectors directly linked to strengthening human resources – education, health, clean water and agriculture – receive only 16% of the allocations in the entire 2023 budget. Therefore, we encourage the Deputies to discuss this in-depth with the Government during the budget debate.

To create an efficient budget, Parliament should tighten evaluation processes for new programs to ensure that they really benefit the people, and should reassess budget allocations which have not yet proven their benefits.

La’o Hamutuk’s submission made seven specific recommendations to Parliament and Government to improve the 2023 budget and the budgeting process.

Click here for information on the 2023 State Budget, including documents, presentations schedules, analyses and graphics.

16 August 2022

Transparénsia Ezije Informasaun, La’ós De'it Imajen Furak

 Link to this article in English 

Foin lalais iha fulan balu nia laran, Governu Timor-Leste promove ‘e-governasaun’ no ho orgullu fó sai mudansa di’ak iha valor transparénsia. Sira implementa hela meius tékniku nian atu mantén lista eleitor, no sistema “Unique ID” hodi bele verifika identidade sidadaun sira.

Maske nune’e, mudansa ne’ebé akontese foin lalais ne’e hatudu formatu ka imagen sira hetan atensaun barak liu kompara ho asuntu substantivu. Website balun ba ajénsia Governu nian hetan ona dezeñu foun, ne’ebé nia rezultadu hatudu katak transparénsia menus no sai susar liu (ka la posivel duni) atu asesu ba informasaun atuál ka informasaun sira antes. Tuir mai iha ezemplu balun:

Website tomak Ministériu Finansas nian antes muda hotu, no versaun foun https://www.mof.gov.tl/ iha hela durante fulan balun. Website foun ne’e ladún kompletu no susar liu atu uza. Ligasaun hotu ba dokumentu sira iha website uluk taka ona. Ligasaun barak husi website foun lakon ka la funsiona. Labele identifika informasaun foun, no website ne’e uza gráfiku no coding barak ne’ebé halo susar atu halo ligasaun ba webpage espesífiku ka atu download iha website ida. Mákina atu buka informasaun (search engines) hanesan Google labele ajuda hetan matérias sira husi webpage ida ne’e, no la bele buka dokumentu espesífiku iha website ne’e rasik.

TimorGAP, nudár kompañia mina estadu nian ne’ebé simu ona subsídiu públiku ho valor kuaze to’o dolar biliaun ida, foin lalais ne’e implementa dezeñu foun ba ninia website https://www.timorgap.com/. Maioria husi informasaun sira antes ne’e iha, agora lakon, no website foun ne’e disponivel iha lian ingles de’it. Iha website refere laiha informasaun seluk, iha de’it mak informasaun kona ba staff sira no esperansa ba kampu Greater Sunrise - maske kompañia ida ne’e asina tiha ona kontratu atu hala’o esplorasaun ba iha fatin hitu iha rai laran no tasi laran. Informasaun kona ba sira nia relatóriu anuál, finansas, tender, kontratu, konsultasaun públiku, no komunikasaun imprensa sira laiha hotu ona.

Website ofisiál seluk, inklui Primeiru Ministru nian https://www.gpm.gov.tl/tl/ no Autoridade Nasionál Petroleum no Minerais (ANPM) http://www.anpm.tl/ sei kontinua la’o, maibé dala ruma lori fulan balun atu atualiza no publika informasaun sira. ANPM nian laiha lingua Tetum.

Website Parlamentu Nasionál https://www.parlamento.tl normálmente funsiona, maibé la fornese informasaun importante. Presiza tebes atu inklui informasaun sira hanesan ezbosu lei sira, komisaun sira nia relatóriu, no agenda sira tuir mai, aléinde informasaun istória no jerál sira ne’ebé iha ona. 

Nune’e mós ba iha website Ministériu Obras Públika nian https://mop.gov.tl/, ne’ebé la atualiza dezde kedas Agostu 2021, fó sai de’it kona ba reuniaun ofisiál sira, maibé laiha liu kedas informasaun kona ba konsultasaun públiku ka informasaun kona ba projetu espesífiku haktuir ba sira nia mandatu. Ministériu Petróleu no Minerais nia website: http://mpm.gov.tl/ mós fornese informasaun barak kona ba enkontru sira duke substánsia sira.

Jerálmente, pajina online sira iha leten, hanesan mós sira seluk ne’ebé Governu mantén, la fornese informasaun relevante ka liga ba sira nia relatóriu ka dokumentu ruma. Sira nia komunikadu imprensa la ajuda lee na’in sira atu hetan informasaun konkretu ka informasaun espesífiku, hanesan lei sira ka dokumentu sira. Barak liu, Governu hakarak hatudu katak sira okupadu, maibé lakohi fahe sira nia informasaun kona ba programa no projetu sira. Hare ezemplu atuál ne’ebé fó sai husi pajina ofisiál Governu nian iha website:
 
Ajénsia balu fó sai sira nia komunikadu foun ka iha pajina iha Facebook. Maske hirak ne’e util, liu-liu bainhira ita konsidera katak ema barak mak uza liu Facebook iha Timor-Leste, maibé la signifika katak ida ne’e troka fali importánsia husi website ofisiál. Ita labele liga direta saida mak tau ona iha FB liga link ne’ebé la’ós FB, no informasaun sira ne’e mós la’ós permanente, ka estruturadu ho lójiku liu no labele hetan liu husi Search Engines (ez. Google). Hirak ne’e mós inklui dokumentu sira – so de’it imajen. Atu governa nasaun ne’e knaar importante tebes, no fornese informasaun ba sidadaun sira mós esensiál duni, no labele depende ba media sosiál sira de’it. 

Ba notas sira ne’ebé pozitivu liu mak hanesan:

Atu halo informasaun importante sira disponivel liu ba iha públiku, La’o Hamutuk koleta dokumentu barak no matériais barak ne’ebé loloos mantén no públika iha Governu nia website rasik, maibé barak liu mak laiha. Ami fornese kópia barak iha ami nia pajina website (duke tau ligasaun ba iha fatin seluk) atu nune’e sira la lakon bainhira website seluk muda ka la eziste ona. Tuir mai mak ligasaun importante balu iha ami nia website:

Transparency requires information, not just pretty pictures

 Liga ba artigu ida ne'e iha lingua Tetum 

In recent months, Timor-Leste officials have promoted “E-government” and boasted of improved transparency scores. They are instituting technical means for maintaining the electoral rolls, as well as a “Unique ID” system for citizen identification.

However, recent developments indicate that more attention is being given to form than to substance. Several websites for government agencies have been redesigned, resulting in less transparency and making it more difficult (or impossible) to access current and/or historic information. Here are a few examples: 

The entire Ministry of Finance website was deleted, and a new version https://www.mof.gov.tl/ is being assembled over several months. The new one is less complete and more difficult to use. All links to documents on the previous site no longer work. Many links in the new version are either missing or nonfunctional.  Newly released material is not identifiable, and the extensive use of graphics and coding makes it virtually impossible to identify materials, link to a page or download the site with a web spider. Search engines cannot find its material, and the search in the site itself doesn’t work.

TimorGAP, the national oil company which has received nearly a billion dollars in subsidies from public money, also just redesigned its website https://www.timorgap.com/. Most previous information has evaporated, and the new site is in English only. It has no information about anything other than TimorGAP’s staff and its hopes for Greater Sunrise – although the company has signed contracts to explore seven other areas. All information about annual reports, finances, tenders, contracts, public consultations and press releases has been removed.

Other official websites, including those of the Prime Minister https://www.gpm.gov.tl/en/ and the National Petroleum and Minerals Authority (ANPM) http://www.anpm.tl/ still work as well as they have, but it often takes months before current information is posted (example at left).

The National Parliament’s website https://www.parlamento.tl usually functions, but does not contain much useful information. It should have draft laws, committee reports and upcoming agendas, in addition to the historic and general information which is already there.

Similarly, the Ministry of Public Works website https://mop.gov.tl/, which hasn’t been updated since August 2021, has a lot about meetings with officials, but almost nothing about public consultations or specific projects under its mandate. The Ministry of Petroleum and Minerals site http://mpm.gov.tl/en/ also has more about meetings than about substance.

More generally, most of the above sites, as well as others maintained by the government, do not contain or link to relevant reports or documents. Their vacuous press releases do not help the reader find more concrete or specific information, such as laws or other documents. Often, the government appears to want to look busy, but declines to post information about its programs and projects. Here’s a recent example from the main Government website.

Some agencies post news releases or have pages on Facebook. Although this can be useful (especially considering the number of Facebook users in Timor-Leste), it is not a substitute for a website. You cannot link to a FB posting from outside FB, and the postings are not permanent, logically structured or indexed by search engines. They cannot include documents – only images. Governing a nation is too important a responsibility, and providing information to citizens is too essential, to rely solely on a “social network.” 

On a more positive note: 

To make important information more available to the public, La’o Hamutuk collects many documents and materials that should be accessible on government websites, but often aren’t. We put copies on our own site (rather than linking to them elsewhere) so that they don’t disappear when another website is deleted. Here are some key links on our site:

13 July 2022

La’o Hamutuk Congratulates Australia for Ending the Prosecution of Bernard Collaery and Urges them to Continue to Respect Timor-Leste’s Sovereignty

 Liga ba blog ida ne'e iha Tetum ka PDF iha lingua rua 

La’o Hamutuk appreciates the decision of Australia’s Attorney-General to end the prosecution against Bernard Collaery. This overdue decision cannot undo the shameful history of Australia’s bugging Timor-Leste’s Government Palace in 2004, during the negotiations which led to the 2006 CMATS Treaty dividing oil revenues and delaying discussion of the maritime boundary between the two countries. The 2004 spying was done by Australian intelligence agents, one whom, known as “Witness K”, was also prosecuted, along with his attorney Bernard Collaery, when he blew the whistle on the illegal espionage.

To rebuild good neighborly relations between Australia and Timor-Leste, the Australian government should recognize that it has blatantly violated Timor-Leste’s sovereignty, and return to policies of mutual respect between the two nations. Healthy diplomacy needs to address past transgressions, and Australia should return more than $5 billion it took in from oil and gas fields that it now agrees are in Timor-Leste’s territory.

We also think that mutual respect as neighbors means supporting each other as partners, not taking advantage of Timor-Leste’s weaker economy, less experienced administration, and limited human resources to obtain benefits for Australia at the expense of Timor-Leste’s people. This should be reflected by cancelling some future projects, including the planned Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) at Bayu-Undan which would exploit Timor-Leste’s vulnerability to enable the carbon-intensive Barossa project in Australia, further damaging the global and local climate.

In addition, we suggest that Australia should pardon “Witness K”, who was pressured into pleading guilty to a crime he did not commit. “Witness K” used proper channels to report an inappropriate action he was ordered to carry out, and should be unconditionally exonerated. Both he and Bernard Collaery have been good and honorable friends to Timor-Leste, and Australia should compensate them for the harm that unjust prosecution has already inflicted on them.

As a Timorese civil society organization, the Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk) has studied and advocated on the maritime boundary, petroleum development, and other aspects of the relationship between Timor-Leste and Australia for more than two decades, sometimes alone and often in collaboration with the Independent Information Center for the Timor Sea (CIITT), the Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (MKOTT) and the international Timor Sea Justice Campaign (TSJC). 

As we applaud the 2019 Maritime Boundary Treaty and the dropping of the charges against Bernard Collaery, we continue to struggle for a mutually respectful relationship.

Ami Kongratula Austrália ne'ebé Hapara Akuzasaun Kontra Bernard Collaery, no Tenke Kontinua atu Respeita Soberania Timor-Leste

Komunikadu Imprensa

La’o Hamutuk apresia desizaun Prokuradór-Jerál Austrália nian hodi hapara prosesu akuzasaun kontra advogadu Bernard Collaery. Desizaun tarde ida ne’e, labele nega istória fo’er Austrália nian ne’ebé halo espionajen iha Palásiu Governu TL nian iha 2004, durante negosiasaun kona-ba oinsá fahe riku soin petrolíferu iha Tasi Timor, liu-liu iha prosesu hakat ba diskusaun Tratadu CMATS 2006. Espionajen ida ne’e halo husi servisu intelijénsia Austrália nian no ema ida husi sira ne’ebé hala’o espionajen ida ne’e mak fó sai hatene ba Governu Timor-Leste, nune’e ema ne’ebé hanaran “Witness K” ho nian advogadu Bernard Collaery hetan persekusaun legál. 

Atu harii ikus relasaun nudár viziñu di’ak entre Austrália no Timor-Leste, Governu Austrália tenke rekoñese aktu dezrespeitu ba soberania RDTL no kontinua pratika respeita mutua iha aspetu hotu ba soberania rai rua nian. Relasaun diplomátika ho saudavel ida ne’e, presiza rezolve aktu laloos iha pasadu inklui Australia tenke selu fali liu biliaun $5 ne’ebé Australia simu husi rezerva petróleu no gas ida ne’ebé agora konkorda iha territóriu Timor-Leste nian. 

Ami mós hanoin katak atu respeita no kuidadu malu nudár viziñu ne’ebé di’ak tenke haree malu hanesan família no parseiru di’ak, la’ós apreveita vulnerabilidade sistema legal, administrasaun, Governasaun no rekursu umanu hodi maximiza benefísiu ba Austrália no tau ba risku povu Timor-Leste. Ida ne’e presiza refleta iha kansela projetu petrolíferu sira inklui Carbon Capture and Storage (CCS) iha Bayu-Undan ne’ebé sei vunerabliza liu tan Timor-Leste no intensiva projetu Barossa iha Austrália, ida ne’ebé sei estraga liu klima global no lokál. 

Ami mós sujere atu Austrália fó perdaun ba “Witness K”, ema ne’ebé hetan presaun atu aseita sala ba krime ne’ebé nia la halo. “Witness K” uza kanál ne’ebé loos atu denunsia aktu la apropriadu ne’ebé orienta ba nia no tenke liberta nia inkondisionalmente.  Sira na’in rua sai tiha belun boot Povu Timor-Leste nian, no Australia tenke fó kompensasaun ba lakon hotu ne’ebé sira hetan durante persekusaun la justu ida ne’e. 

Nudár organizasaun sosiedade sivíl Timor oan nian, Institutu ba Monitoring no Analiza dezenvolvimentu - La’o Hamutuk durante ne’e halo estudu no advokasia ba fronteira maritima, dezenvolvimentu petróleu, no aspetu seluk husi relasaun entre Timor-Leste no Australia, liu dékada rua, dala ruma mesak, no dala barak servisu hamutuk ho Centru ba Informasaun Independente kona-ba Tasi Timor (CIITT), Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor (MKOTT) no Timor Sea Justice Campaign (TSJC) internasionál.

Ita selebra Tratadu Fronteira Maritima iha 2019 no kansela akuzasaun kontra Bernard Collaery, ba oin ita kontinua luta ba relasaun di’ak no mutua entre nasaun rua.

03 July 2022

Timor-Leste Must Do Better on Public Participation and Transparency to Comply with International Standards

 Liga ba blog ida ne'e iha Tetum

On 30 May 2022, the International Budget Partnership (IBP) released the results of the 2021 Open Budget Survey (OBS), which shows improvements in some indicators since the last survey. The survey evaluates transparency, public participation, and oversight in the state budget processes of 120 countries, including Timor-Leste. The results show an overall improvement of 20% in transparency among the 120 countries. In Timor-Leste, transparency has also improved and is better than the global average. However, the country’s public participation score has declined since the 2015 and 2017 surveys, and are below average. Although the results for oversight show some progress, Timor-Leste still needs to establish a Supreme Audit Institution to oversee budget implementation.

How did Timor-Leste Score in the Open Budget Survey?

In this survey, Timor-Leste’s scores are better than in the previous survey; the nation’s transparency score increased to 52/100 and oversight increased to 56/100. However, the government has yet to demonstrate a genuine commitment to popular participation, and has not shown significant change, improving just one point compared to 2019, to 7/100. The graph at the top shows changes in Timor-Leste’s scores and global averages since 2015.
 
Although we recognize that global conditions, namely the pandemic, have caused urgent necessities, this is not an excuse for the Government to fail to conduct public consultations during budget preparation, oversight, and execution. After data was collected for the 2021 OBS, the Government made some efforts by enacting the Budget Framework Law and, most recently, the Major Planning Options Law for 2023. Despite this, we note that Parliament does not have enough opportunities to study and analyze Government proposals, including laws approved by Parliament without thorough public consultation. 

Based on the new report, Timor-Leste complies with almost all key indicators regarding the publication of important budget documents. Of eight budget documents, this survey found that two — the Pre-Budget Statement and the Mid-Year Report — were late. While the figure at right shows that Timor-Leste occupies an average position, above Malaysia, Vietnam, Cambodia and Myanmar, our nation rates lower than Indonesia, Philippines and Thailand.  

La’o Hamutuk’s principal researcher for this survey notes that while Timor-Leste has improved its transparency score, it still needs to clearly explain data and projections regarding state revenues and spending, reflecting current conditions, including more serious projections about the condition of the Petroleum Fund which will be exhausted in coming years. Although issues regarding the Petroleum Fund aren’t specifically part of this survey, when we talk more generally about transparency it implies that all entities including the Government should demonstrate their commitment to respect and implement transparency, including publishing important information such as the annual report of the Petroleum Fund, which in previous years has been published late and failed to convey consistent information about the value of the Fund’s loan to Timor-Gap. 

Furthermore, the researcher found that it’s important for the Government, through Law 2/2022 on the Budget Framework, to improve budget transparency and create opportunities for public participation.

The principal investigator for this survey, La’o Hamutuk researcher Eliziaria Febe Gomes, notes that “we appreciate that the Government has created some limited space for civil society to participate in consultation and budget development, through the Jornada Orsamentál (Budget Days) meeting. However, it would be better to open up opportunities during budget development at the Ministerial level and also in the Budget Policy Committee (CROP) prior to approval of the budget by the Council of Ministers and submission to Parliament, because the Jornada Orsamentál is not a decision-making forum. Ideally, participation of civil society and public representatives would be maximized from the start of the budget process, through to review. The above graphic shows that Timor-Leste still occupies a below-acceptable position, scoring below Vietnam which has managed to improve its participation score.”

“Timor-Leste has a great opportunity to improve and promote participation, because we have already shown the world our great respect for democratic values, and so there is an opening to promote and include everyone’s opinions and participation at all policy-making levels. In this way, the people would feel a sense a ownership over decisions and they could trust and know that the Government is using their shared wealth to improve their lives.”

Indicators in the 2021 Open Budget Survey

  • Budget transparency is assessed in the OBS based on the public availability and content of eight important budget documents that the Government should publish according to international standards. Specifically, the survey examines whether documents and reports are published online according to schedule, and determines whether they include comprehensive and detailed information.

Despite partisan disputes in 2019, the Parliament approved the Budget. Despite being almost one month late because of a Presidential veto, Timor-Leste improved significantly on transparency, by publishing a Citizen’s Budget and a Year-End Report.
Timor-Leste’s transparency score is 52 out of 100, below the score of 61 which is needed to promote informed public debate. This score puts Timor-Leste in 48th place out of 120 countries.

  • Public participation is assessed based on formal opportunities for organizations and individuals to participate and share their thoughts during the budget process.

The global average score for public participation is very poor, at just 14 out of 100.
Timor-Leste received a score of seven, worse than the most nations in Southeast-Asia.

  • Oversight is assessed on the function of the legislature and the Supreme Audit Institution (SAI) in the budget process.

A score of 61 out of 100 is considered adequate.
Timor-Leste received a score of 56.

Implications of the OBS Results for Timor-Leste

Based on La’o Hamutuk’s experience as a civil society organization that monitors the state budget process, the researcher observes that people in Parliament are often willing to share materials with us informally regarding proposed budget legislation, although we are rarely invited to testify directly. At the same time, we continue to encourage Parliament to officially publish materials in language that is easy to understand and in places that are easily accessible. 

One recent example of these tendencies is the Government’s proposed Rectification of the 2022 Budget in May 2022, which the Government convinced Parliament to handle as an urgent matter and therefore failed to properly inform or open space for the public. This situation demonstrated major shortcomings in participation, because people had no chance to share their opinions or suggestions. Although we appreciate that Parliament Committee C recognized that the Government's justification for urgency consideration was insufficient, the majority of MPs nevertheless voted for it. 

The Open Budget Survey aims to help each nation, including Timor-Leste, to see their citizens as the center of decision making on the budget process, including their role in monitoring how the Government manages their money and whether it is spent prudently and in their interest. Data and information for this survey is collected by independent civil society with a deep understanding of the budget and budget monitoring, without affiliation to any group or party. The results are revised by relevant parties such as the evaluators and Government representatives through the Ministry of Finance who provide commentary prior to publication.

La’o Hamutuk will continue to work with civil society, including sharing current and accurate information, to ensure the Government pays attention to looming problems, especially the fiscal cliff which will come when our nonrenewable oil and gas wealth is exhausted. We also work with the IBP to increase the capacity of local and national civil society to engage in budget analysis and advocacy. 

Download the complete OBS report for Timor-Leste here

La’o Hamutuk publications related to state finances are listed here.