26 April 2016

Health and safety for all workers, not only those in mining & petroleum

Informasaun kompletu iha Tetum iha ne'e.
See La'o Hamutuk's web page for the full submission in Tetum

On 4 March 2016, Timor-Leste's State Secretariat for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) circulated a draft Decree-Law on Employment in the Extractive Activities for public comment. The proposed law would create a specific legal regime for workers in the petroleum and mining industries, supplementing or replacing the Labor Law 4/2012 which applies to workers throughout the formal economy. SEPFOPE held a workshop on 10 March to discuss the draft with stakeholders.

Although labor rights are not a fundamental part of La'o Hamutuk's work, SEPFOPE's consultation was well-conducted (it is exceptional for a Government agency to ask for input, providing translations of a draft law with enough time for comment before sending it to the Council of Ministers). Therefore, La'o Hamutuk decided to apply our knowledge about extractive industries, especially oil and gas, to write a submission (Tetum) to this consultation process.

The main points of our submission, which also suggests a number of specific changes to the draft, are:

This Decree-Law should follow principles of equality for every worker, rather than creating a privileged class of workers in one sector. It should conform with international human rights covenants.

We agree with many provisions in the draft Decree-Law, and they should be incorporated into the Labor Law and applied to all workers in Timor-Leste. These include:
  • Health and safety insurance
  • Pension fund, which should be expanded to include workers in the informal sector through a Government-managed pension scheme funded by taxes on companies.
  • Minimum wage should be the same for all sectors.
  • Protection of women against abuse or discrimination, and recognition of their childbearing responsibilities
  • If bonuses (in addition to the 13th month salary applicable to all workers) are legally mandated, they should apply to all employed workers.
  • Occupational safety and environmental protection should apply to all sectors, and whistle-blowers should be protected. However, particularly hazardous work, such as some mining jobs, may require special rules.
The law should define minimum standards while recognizing the right of workers to organize and to secure greater benefits through collective bargaining and contract negotiation.

Penalties for employers who violate this law should be severe enough to encourage compliance.

Education at all levels should be improved to prepare Timorese workers for higher-skill, higher-paid jobs in extractive and other industries.

20 April 2016

Private investment is a road, not a destination

Many in Timor-Leste see private investment – people or companies putting their money into projects with the intention of earning a return in the future -- as the key to Timor-Leste’s future economic development. They expect Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), where the money comes from other countries, to accelerate economic development in Timor-Leste, resulting in jobs and other benefits for our people. Unfortunately, this does not happen automatically, but needs careful planning, guidance and regulation.

Because Timor-Leste has not yet attracted many significant foreign investors, the Ministry of State Coordinating Economic Affairs (MECAE) is revising Timor-Leste’s Private Investment Policy and Law (replacing the 2011 law currently in effect), citing the need to comply with ASEAN and United Nations Convention on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) guidelines. La’o Hamutuk wrote a submission to MECAE on the draft Private Investment Law and another submission on the summary of the draft Private Investment Policy – and here we summarize some of our main points.

Private investment is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and the policy and law should describe how private investment can promote human development in Timor-Leste, rather than assuming that this will happen automatically. Conversely, the policy should analyze potential negative impacts from private investment which Timor-Leste could avoid. In many developing countries, foreign investments – particularly in extractive industries, palm oil plantations and logging – damage local livelihoods, destroy the environment, take land away from citizens and from food production, increase corruption and deplete natural resources.

La’o Hamutuk is disappointed that the draft investment policy only mentions export-oriented agriculture as having potential for investment, while ignoring the wide variety of food crops grown by most people. We should prioritize investment in organic agriculture and food processing for domestic consumption which would improve productivity, employment, incomes and nutrition. Manufacturing and tourism are other key sectors outlined in the Strategic Development Plan which should be invested in to diversify Timor-Leste’s economy and reduce dependency on imports.

Timor-Leste does not need to adopt ASEAN’s Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) before we join ASEAN; instead, we should keep space to negotiate exceptions or delays to ASEAN investment and importation rules, as most members do. (Current regrets over signing CMATS in 2006, when our leaders agreed to delay maritime boundaries for fifty years, is a lesson in the importance of not giving up bargaining power.) Also, if Timor-Leste follows ACIA’s mandate and gives investors from ASEAN ‘national treatment’, Timorese investors would have to compete with large companies from Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia, which could effectively exclude local businesses.

MECAE wants to enact these rules by this September; we think this is too rushed. Other legislation, such as tax reform and land laws should come first, because they are fundamental both to people’s lives and to economic development, including investment. This draft investment policy needs significant improvement, which will take deeper discussion and thought than the current schedule envisions.

La’o Hamutuk has doubts about some assumptions about ‘free enterprise’ and ‘market principles’ which appear to underlie this law and policy. Although private investment is one aspect of economic development, an “open economic model, based on market principles and led by the private sector”  is not necessarily the most effective way to improve the lives of our people. Private investment is just one avenue among many -- instead of regurgitating free market dogma, our laws and policies should consider all viable alternatives that can foster economic development.

Both the policy and law envision special favors to attract investors and expedite investment applications. However, improved bureaucratic efficiency and rule of law would benefit all of Timor-Leste’s citizens, as well as increasing investor confidence. Everyone has the right to fair and equal treatment -- giving privileges to investors just because they have money undermines this principle and opens a door to corruption.

Finally, we recommend that policy makers evaluate the actual factors that have deterred people and companies from investing in Timor-Leste. Low-hanging fruit like slashing business taxes (2008) and simplifying business registration (2013) were unsuccessful in attracting investors. We believe Timor-Leste needs to confront more challenging obstacles – human resources, land titles, contract enforcement, and reliable, sustainable infrastructure. Overcoming these problems will not only attract investment, but will also improve all citizens’ lives. If we don't do this and simply make special rules to bypass broken or inefficient processes, less scrupulous investors who seek to exploit our resources and limited experience may come, while legitimate investors will not want to do business in an environment of patronage and favoritism.

Private investment policy can bring benefits for Timor-Leste’s people, but if managed poorly it also can create damage and increase inequality. La’o Hamutuk appreciates MECAE’s willingness to take this issue to public consultation, and we encourage citizens and civil society organizations to engage in the process as the Private Investment Law moves through the Council of Ministers, Parliament and the Presidency.

Investimentu Privadu – dalan, la’ós objetivu

Investimentu privadu signifika ema ka kompañia ruma tau sira nia osan iha projetu ho intensaun atu manán lukru iha futuru. Ema barak iha Timor-Leste hanoin katak investimentu privadu xave ba Timor-Leste nia dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku iha futuru. Sira hein katak Foreign Direct Investment (Investimentu Direta husi Li’ur - FDI), bainhira osan mai husi rai seluk, bele halo lalais liu dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku iha Timor-Leste, atu aumenta empregu no fó benefísiu seluk ba ita nia povu. Infelizmente, buat hirak ne’e sei la akontese automatikamente – maibé tenke halo planu, jestaun no regulasaun ne’ebé ho kuidadu.

Tanba Timor-Leste seidauk atrai investimentu boot barak, Ministériu Estadu, Kordenador ba Asuntu Ekonómiku (MECAE) halo hela revizaun ba Timor-Leste nia Polítika Investimentu Privadu no Lei Investimentu Privadu (atu muda lei ne’ebé estabelese iha 2011), ho razaun seluk katak Timor-Leste tenke tuir matadalan husi ASEAN (ACIA) no ONU (UNCTAD). La’o Hamutuk hakerek ona submisaun ba MECAE kona-ba ezbosu Lei Investimentu Privadu no mós hakerek submisaun ida tan kona-ba rezumu ezbosu Polítika Investimentu Privadu – iha artigu ne’e ami sumaríza ideia balun husi submisaun rua ne’e.

Investimentu privadu la’ós meta ida, maibé dalan ida atu atinje buat ruma, tanba ne’e polítika no lei tenke deskreve oinsá investimentu privadu bele promove dezenvolvimentu umanu iha Timor-Leste – la bele asume de’it katak ida ne’e sei akontese automatikamente. Polítika investimentu mós tenke analiza posibilidade ba impaktu negativu husi investimentu privadu ne’ebé Timor-Leste bele prevene no hasees. Iha nasaun barak seidauk dezenvolvidu, investimentu estranjeiru – liu-liu iha indústria estratíva, plantasaun palma mina (minyak kelapa sawit), no indústria tesi ai (industri penebangan) – estraga komunidade nia moris no meiu ambiente, foti rai husi produsaun ai-han, hamosu korrupsaun no uza lalais rekursu naturais.

La’o Hamutuk sente triste katak ezbosu polítika investimentu mensiona de’it agrikultura ba esportasaun nudár setór ho poténsia ba investimentu, maibé polítika ne’e ignora tipu ai-han barak ne’ebé maioria Timor-Leste nia povu kuda. Ita tenke prioritíza agrikultura orgánika no prosesamentu ai-han atu han iha Timor-Leste laran – nune’e bele hadi’ak produsaun, kampu servisu, rendimentu no nutrisaun. Fábriku (ka indústria prosesamentu) no turizmu mós hanesan setór xave seluk ne’ebé diskute iha Planu Estratéjiku Dezenvolvimentu, no ita tenke investe iha setór rua ne’e atu diversifíka Timor-Leste nia ekonomia no hamenus dependénsia ba importasaun.

Timor-Leste la presiza adopta ASEAN nia Konkordánsia Komprensívu Investimentu (ACIA) molok ita tama iha ASEAN; tuir lo-loos, ita tenke mantén ita nia abilidade atu negosia esepsaun ka adia ba ASEAN nia regra investimentu no importasaun, hanesan maioria membru ASEAN sira halo nafatin. (Agora ita arrepende tanba bainhira ita asina CMATS iha 2006, bainhira ita nia polítika na’in sira konkorda katak ita simu Australia nia pedidu atu adia diskusaun  kona-ba fronteira maritima ba tinan 50 oin mai – ita bele aprende husi esperiénsia ida ne’e katak importante atu la bele limita ita nia abilidade atu halo negosiasaun). Ida seluk, karik Timor-Leste tuir ACIA nia mandatu no fó ‘tratamentu nasionál’ ba investidór sira husi ASEAN, ita sei obriga investidór Timor-oan sira tenke kompete ho kompañia boot sira husi Singapura, Malaysia ka Indonézia ne’ebé iha rekursu finansas no umanus ne’ebé forte liu, no ida ne’e bele esklui negósiu lokál sira.

MECAE hakarak implementa polítika no lei ne’e molok Setembru agora, maibé ami hanoin ita la presiza la’o lalais hanesan ne’e. Ita tenke finalíza lejizlasaun seluk hanesan reforma fiskal no lei ba rai uluk, tanba lei sira ne’e báziku tebes ba ema nia moris no dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku, inklui investimentu. Ami mós hanoin katak Governu tenke hadi’ak buat barak iha polítika investimentu ne’e, no atu halo ida ne’e tenke halo diskusaun kle’an liu tan ho tempu ne’ebé nato’on duké oráriu ne’ebé iha agora.

La’o Hamutuk mós duvida kona-ba asumsaun balun ne’ebé inklui iha lei no polítika sira ne’e liga ho ideia ‘negósiu livre’ no ‘prinsípiu merkadu’. Maske investimentu privadu mak aspeitu ida ba dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku, “modelu ekonómiku ne’ebé nakloke, bazeia ba prinsípiu merkadu no lidera husi setór privadu” la’ós dalan úniku ka efetivu liu atu hadi’ak liu tan ita nia povu nia moris. Investimentu privadu hanesan dalan ida maibé iha dalan barak – ita nia polítika no lei la bele tuir no repete de’it ideolojia ‘merkadu livre’, no tenke konsidera alternativa viavel hotu ne’ebé bele promove dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku.

Polítika no lei hotu hanoin atu fó prémiu ka favor espesiál atu atrai investidór sira no trata aplikasaun investimentu lalais liu. Maibé, bainhira Governu hadi’ak efisiénsia burokrasia no regra, sidadaun Timor-Leste hotu sei hetan benefísiu, no mós sei aumenta investidór sira nia fiar. Ema hotu-hotu iha direitu atu hetan tratamentu ne’ebé justu no iguál -- se ita fó priviléjiu ba investidór sira tanba sira iha osan, ita sei estraga prinsípiu ne’e no loke odamatan ba korrupsaun.

Ikus liu, ami rekomenda ba polítika na’in sira atu avalia fatór loos ne’ebé prevene ema no kompañia investe sira nia osan iha Timor-Leste. Ita hadi’ak ona buat simplés sira hanesan ko’a taxa negósiu (2008) no simplifika prosesu registrasaun negósiu (2013) maibé seidauk konsege atu atrai investidór sira. Ami fiar katak Timor-Leste tenke rekoñese no hadi’ak obstákulu sira ne’ebé difisil liu: rekursu umanus, títulu rai, implementasaun kontratu tuir lei, no infrastrutura ne’ebé sustentável no bele garante servisu ho kualidade. Karik ita resolve problema hirak ne’e, ita bele hadi’ak liu tan sidadaun hotu nia moris, la’ós de’it atu atrai investimentu. Karik ita la resolve problema sira ne’e, no kria de’it regra espesiál atu evita prosesu ne’ebé aat ka la efisiente, investidór ho vontade aat hakarak esplora ita nia rekursu ka esperiénsia ne’ebé limitadu bele mai, no iha tempu hanesan investidór lejítimu sei lakohi halo komérsiu iha fatin ne’ebé iha pratika korrupsaun hanesan nepotizmu, ka fahe priviléjiu ho ema ne’ebé besik liu poder na’in.

Investimentu privadu bele lori benefísiu ba povu Timor-Leste, maibé karik ita nia jestaun fraku investimentu mós estraga ita no hasa’e dezigualdade. La’o Hamutuk apresia MECAE nia vontade atu lori asuntu ida ne’e ba konsultasaun públiku, no ami enkoraja sidadaun no organizasaun sosiedade sivíl atu partisipa iha prosesu bainhira Lei Investimentu Privadu tama liu Konsellu Ministru, Parlamentu no Gabinete Prezidénsia.

La’o Hamutuk nia submisaun kona-ba Polítika Investimentu no Lei Investimentu Privadu diskute tópiku seluk, inklui:
  • FDI iha nasaun seidauk dezenvolvidu: vantajen no dezvantajen
  • Oinsá mak Timor-Leste bele hetan benefísiu husi investimentu estranjeiru?
  • Obrigasaun tuir Konstituisaun no tratadu internasionál
  • Investidór tenke tuir lei hanesan ema hotu-hotu
  • Aranjamentu espesiál no mekanizmu ba rezolusaun dispute
  • Polítika investimentu haluha traballadór informal sira
  • Lei Investimentu la bele loke dalan ba korrupsaun

22 March 2016

Deklarasaun husi MKOTT ba Governu Australia no Timor-Leste

Link to this blog in English
Ohin, loron 22 Marsu, ema rihun balun halo manifestasaun pasifiku iha Embaixada Australia nia oin iha Dili. MKOTT, nudar organizador ba manifestasaun ida ne'e, fo sai deklarasaun rua -- ida ba Governu Australia no ida ba Governu Timor-Leste. Bele hetan foto tan no arkivu PDF sira iha http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/Boundary/CMATSindex.htm#Mar16Demos.

Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor
Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-7734-8703   email: zebdiaz@gmail.com

Deklarasaun ba Governu Australia

Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor (MKOTT) nudár movimentu sosiál ida hosi ativista, estudante, eis rezisténsia no indivíduu sira ne’ebé halo advokasia ba prosesu legal, judisiál no diplomátika entre Governu Australia no Timor-Leste atu hetan solusaun ida ne’e justu kona-ba fronteira maritima entre rai rua nian.

MKOTT hare katak Timor-Leste mak nudár viziñu ida ne’ebé besik liu ho Australia. Durante dékada sira iha pasadu, povu hosi rai rua ne’e iha ona relasaun ida ne’e di’ak.  Iha Segundu Guerra Mundial, Timor oan barak mak fó apoiu ba Australia no sakrifiika Timor oan sira nia vida liu 40,000 ne’ebé mak mate tanba Australia mai hodi uza illa Timor nudár baze defeza hodi kontra Japaun. Nune’e mós, iha 1999 Australia fó suporta hodi ajuda hakotu brutalidade militár Indonézia sira.

Infelizmente, istória hosi relasaun di’ak sira iha pasadu ne’e sai fitar tiha tanba polítika Governu Australia ne’ebé halo okupasaun ilegál ba territóriu maritima Timor-Leste nian tanba interese atu hetan riku soin hosi nasaun ki’ik ida ne’e. Tanba ne’e, ohin loron, MKOTT mai fali hodi manifesta espresaun justisa ba delimitasaun fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé justu ba povu Timor-Leste.

MKOTT nia espresaun ba ezisténsia sira mak hanesan tuir mai:
  1. Australia tenke fila fali ba mekanizmu rezolve disputa fronteira maritima tuir Tribunal Justisa Internasionál no Tribunal Internasionál ba Lei Tasi nian.
  2. Governu Australia tenke respeita direitu povu Timor-Leste nian iha Tasi Timor tuir lei internasionál ba tasi nian (UNCLOS)
  3. Governu Australia tenke halo negosiasaun ida ne’ebé onestu no nakloke kona-ba fronteira maritima, no la'os de’it atu ko’alia de’it asuntu relasaun bilateral enjeral.
  4. Governu Australia tenke hapara ona nauk rekursu povu Timor-Leste, ne’ebé halakon tiha oportunidade moris di’ak ba feto, labarik no mós ema vulneravel sira iha Timor-Leste.
Aleinde ezisténsia sira iha leten, iha biban ida ne’e, MKOTT mós husu ba povu Australia, nudár povu ida ne’ebé iha ona maturidade no sivismu ida ne’ebé maka’as ona atu:
  1. Ezije hodi hamriik iha povu Timor-Leste nia sorin ba luta libertasaun soberania nian, ne’ebé ita-boot sira hatudu ona durante okupasaun Indonézia nian.
  2. Tulun ita-boot sira nia Governu atu respeita povu Timor-Leste nia direitu, liu hosi deside fronteira maritima ida ne’ebé justu tuir prinsipiu direitu internasionál nian.
  3. Ajuda ita-boot sira nia polítika rai laran, atu sai demokrátiku liu, respeita lei no direitus umanus, hodi halo Australia sai ezemplu nasaun ho sistema demokratizasaun iha rejional ne’ebé nasaun seluk bele banati tuir.

Mandatu MKOTT ba Governu Timor-Leste

Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor (MKOTT) nudár movimentu sosiál ida hosi ativista, estudante, eis rezisténsia no indivíduu sira ne’ebé halo advokasia ba prosesu legal, judisiál no diplomátika entre Governu Australia no Timor-Leste atu hetan solusaun ida ne’e justu kona-ba fronteira maritima entre rai rua nian.

Nudár movimentu sidadania ida, naun partisan, MKOTT iha responsabilidade mós atu defende povu Timor-Leste nia direitu atu iha asesu ba distribuisaun rekursu estadu nian ne’ebé justu, no mós defende direitu povu atu hatene transparénsia no kontabilidade hosi nia ukun na’in sira. MKOTT fiar katak povu Timor-Leste mak tenke sai benefisiariu loloos no autór ida ne’ebé determina nia ukun na’in sira nia desizaun.

Istória hatudu ona katak, dezde hosi UNTAET nia administrasaun to ohin loron, ukun na’in Timor-Leste nian prefere de’it oinsá atu fahe osan ho Governu Australia ne’ebé kompañia petróleu sira selu hosi esploita ita nia mina-rai no gas iha Tasi Timor, duke hili ita nia soberania.
MKOTT rekoñese katak situasaun ekonomia ne’ebé fraku dezde restorasaun independénsia iha tempu ne’ebá obriga Timor-Leste hodi rende ba presaun Australia hodi asina tratadu no akordu sira ne’ebé la justu mai Timor-Leste, tanba ita foin sai hosi konflitu ida ne’ebé maka’as, ne’ebé liu 80% ita nia infrastrutura sira ne’e hetan estragu. Estadu nia finansa sai maka’as iha tinan balu hafoin ne’e, no MKOTT la konkorda bainhira Timor-Leste no Australia asina no ratifika Tratadu CMATS iha 2006 no 2007.

Dezde 1999 to ohin loron, Australia goza ona besik biliaun $5 hosi reseita petrolíferu no gas hosi kampu mina-rai sira iha Tasi Timor ne’ebé loloos pertense mai Timor-Leste. Sira hetan osan hirak ne’e hosi kampu sira Elang Kakatua, Bayu-Undan, Laminaria-Corallina, Buffalo no Kitan, ne’ebé maioria kampu sira ne’e maran ona. Maizumenus restu 7% hosi rezerva kampu Bayu-Undan ne’e sei maran la kleur tan.

Iha rai laran, Governu Timor-Leste mós gasta ona liu biliaun $7 hosi ita nia rekursu naturais ne’e, no ohin ita sei iha biliaun $16 iha ita nia Fundu Petrolíferu. MKOTT hare katak riku-soin úniku ida ne’e tenke jere ho di’ak atu benefisia jerasaun ohin no futuru. Bainhira ita nia ekonomia sai forte, ne’ebé la depende ba mina-rai, la depende ba importasaun, povu sei iha kampu servisu, ekonomia uma kain sei hadi’ak no mós sei ajuda Governu hodi benefisia nia feto ho mane, labarik, no mós ema vulneravel sira hotu. MKOTT fiar katak, ekonomia ida ne’ebé forte sei halo pozisaun Timor-Leste nian sai maka’as liu tan bainhira halo negosiasaun ho Australia kona-ba fronteira maritima.

Tanba ne’e, ohin, iha povu barak nia oin, MKOTT fó mandatu ba Governu Timor-Leste:
  • Atu defende soberania uluk liu duke osan, projetu ka benefísiu doadór nian hosi Australia
  • Atu uza rekursu povu nian ne’e ba povu hotu nia bens star, garantia moris ne’ebé ekilíbriu ba ema hotu
  • Atu kontrola nia polítika finansa públiku nian atu la fakar osan arbiru, ne’ebé benefisia ema uitoan
  • Atu promove transparénsia no kontabilidade kona ba desizaun públiku nian tomak ba povu Timor-Leste nudár na’in ba rai ida ne’e.
Nudár movimentu sosiál, MKOTT promete sei tau matan ba mandatu ida ne’e, nudár parte ida hosi ami nia obrigasaun sidadania atu defende interese povu Timor-Leste nian tuir Konstituisaun RDTL nian.

MKOTT statements to Australia and TL

As thousands of people rallied peacefully in front of the Australian embassy in Dili on 22 March, the organizers of the protest issued two statements, one to Australia and one to Timor-Leste. Tetum versions and photos of the protest can be accessed at http://www.laohamutuk.org/Oil/Boundary/CMATSindex.htm#Mar16Demos. The following are English translations of the two statements:

Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor
Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea

Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-7734-8703    email: zebdiaz@gmail.com

Declaration to the Government of Australia

The Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor - MKOTT) is a social movement composed of activists, students, former resistance fighters and individuals which advocates for legal, judicial and diplomatic processes between the Australian and Timor-Leste governments to find a fair solution to the maritime boundary between these two nations.

MKOTT sees that Timor-Leste is the closest neighbour to Australia. During the past few decades, people from these two countries have had good relations. In World War II, many Timorese people supported Australia, and more than 40,000 Timorese lives were sacrificed because Australia came to use Timor Island as a base to defend against Japan. In addition, in 1999 Australia supported Timor-Leste to end Indonesia’s military brutality.

Unfortunately, the history of past good relations has been scarred by Australian government policy to illegally occupy Timor-Leste’s maritime territory, because Australia is interested to take resources from this small nation. Therefore, today, MKOTT returns to call for justice in settling a maritime boundary which is fair to Timor-Leste’s people.

MKOTT comes to ask the following demands:
  1. Australia should return to the mechanisms for resolving maritime boundary disputes under the International Court of Justice and the International Tribunal for the Law of the Sea.
  2. The Government of Australia should respect the rights of Timor-Leste’s people in the Timor Sea according to international law (UNCLOS).
  3. The Government of Australia should engage in honest and open negotiations about maritime boundaries, not only to talk about bilateral relations in general.
  4. The Government of Australia should stop stealing Timor-Leste’s people’s resources, which reduces opportunities for good lives for women, children, and vulnerable people in Timor-Leste.
In addition to the above demands, through this request, MKOTT also asks the Australian people, as a people who have shown their maturity and strong civic spirit, to:
  1. Stand alongside the people of Timor-Leste to fight for sovereignty, as you did during the Indonesian occupation.
  2. Encourage your Government to respect Timor-Leste’s people’s rights, through deciding a fair maritime boundary according to international legal principles.
  3. Help your domestic politics to become more democratic, respecting law and human rights, to make Australia an exemplary nation with a democratic system that other countries in this region can follow.

Mandate of MKOTT to the Government of Timor-Leste

The Movement Against the Occupation of the Timor Sea (Movimentu Kontra Okupasaun Tasi Timor - MKOTT) is a social movement composed of activists, students, former resistance fighters and individuals which advocates for legal, judicial and diplomatic processes between the Australia and Timor-Leste governments to find a fair solution to the maritime boundary between these two nations.

As a nonpartisan citizens’ movement, MKOTT also has a responsibility to defend Timor-Leste’s people’s rights to access a fair distribution of state resources, as well as to defend people’s right to information, transparency and accountability from our leaders. MKOTT believes that the people of Timor-Leste should be the real beneficiaries and should determine their leaders’ decisions.

History has shown that, from the UNTAET administration until today, Timor-Leste’s leaders have looked for ways to share revenues with the Australian government and oil companies who exploit our oil and gas from the Timor Sea, rather than choose for our sovereignty.

MKOTT recognizes that the weak economic situation when independence was restored in 2002 compelled Timor-Leste to give in to Australian pressure to sign the Timor Sea Treaty and International Unitization Agreement which were unfair to Timor-Leste, because we had just emerged from devastating conflict which had destroyed more than 80% of our infrastructure. State finances were stronger a few years later, and MKOTT did not agree when Timor-Leste and Australia signed and ratified the CMATS Treaty in 2006 and 2007.

Since 1999, Australia has taken in around USD $5 billion in revenues from oil and gas fields in the part of the Timor Sea which should belong to Timor-Leste. They got this money from the Elang-Kakatua, Bayu-Undan, Laminaria-Corallina, Buffalo and Kitan fields, which are now nearly entirely depleted. The remaining 7% of the Bayu-Undan reserve will be used up soon.

In our land, the Government of Timor-Leste has already spent more than $7 billion from these natural resources, and about $16 billion remains in our Petroleum Fund. MKOTT observes that this unique resource must be managed well to benefit current and future generations. When our economy becomes strong, and it no longer depends on oil and imports, more people will have jobs, household economies will improve, and the Government will be better able to support women and men, children, and all vulnerable people.  MKOTT believes that a stronger economy will also strengthen Timor-Leste’s position in maritime boundary negotiations with Australia.

Therefore, today, in front of many people, MKOTT gives this mandate to the Government of Timor-Leste:
  • To defend sovereignty ahead of money, or projects or benefits from Australian donors.
  • To use the people’s resources to improve all people’s quality of life, ensuring equity for everyone.
  • To control public finance policies not to throw money away, or use it to benefit only a few.
  • To promote transparency and accountability about all public decisions to the Timorese people, as the owners of this land.
As a social movement, MKOTT promises to watch over this mandate, as one part of our duty as citizens to defend the people’s interests under the Constitution of the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste.


14 March 2016

Sinál perigu sei iha konsekuénsia

Dadus sira foin dadaun ne’e ladún fó korajen ba futuru finansiàl ba nasaun ne’ebé depende ba esportasaun petróleu ida ne’e. Problema ne’e la’ós de’it tanba presu mina-rai ne’ebé nafatin maizumenus $40/barríl, maibé merkadu finanseiru mundiál ne’ebé monu, no mós dollar Estadus Unidus ne’ebé sa’e (halo ita nia investimentu iha moeda sira seluk lakon nia valór) tolan tiha rendimentu potensiál sira hosi Fundu Petrolíferu Timor-Leste. Retornu investimentu husi Fundu Petrolíferu nian iha 2015 negativu tokon $21. Bainhira ita tau hamutuk ho rendimentu ki’ik hosi fa’an petróleu no gas no levantamentu boot hosi Fundu Petrolíferu atu finansia orsamentu estadu nian, entaun Fundu Petrolíferu hahú monu ona – iha Janeiru nia rohan, Fundu Petrolíferu nia saldu iha biliaun $16.04, saldu ida ne’ebé menus liu dezde Abril 2014 no menus biliaun ida kompara ho fulan ualu liu ba.

Ema sira ne’ebé servisu iha setór petróleu no finansas nian sempre hatudu sira nia optimizmu, no sira espera katak sira loos hela katak presu mina-rai sei sa’e tan, merkadu finanseiru sei sai di’ak, no dolar Estadus Unidus sei estabiliza hasoru moeda sira seluk. Karik buat hirak ne’e mak akontese, saldu Fundu Petrolíferu nian sei monu tun neineik liu. Maske nune’e, Fundu sei bele de’it hahú sa’e bainhira polítiku na’in sira iha fuan boot no hare ba tempu naruk liu tan atu hakotu despeza públiku nian ba iha mega projetu sira ho benefísiu ne’ebé hamosu hela duvida – ita seidauk hare planu ohin loron nian ne’ebé hakarak atu muda diresaun.

Maske nune’e, fatór ida iha buat hanesan ne’e labele troka ona; buat ne’e labele muda tanba finansas global ka orsamentál ne’ebé prudente. Ita nia rezerva petróleu no gas ne’e labele renova fali – bainhira ita fa’an ona, sira labele iha tan. Vice Ministru Finansas foin lalais ne’e fó hanoin ba ofisiais sira seluk atu lalika preokupa ba presu mina-rai ne’ebé tun tanba 90% hosi Timor-Leste nia riku-soin petróleu no gas ne’e ita supa no esporta tiha ona.

Realidade mak, hanoin ida ne’e ho esperansa demajiadu liu. Tuir deklarasaun rezerva ne’ebé foin lalais ne’e publika hosi Santos, parseiru ida iha projetu Bayu-Undan, 93.3% hosi Bayu-Undan nia depózitu “provadu” ne’e fura hotu ona. Timor-Leste nia kampu seluk ba produsaun mina-rai, Kitan, taka ona. Maske Greater Sunrise bele dezenvolve iha loron ruma, maibé disputa fronteira ne’ebé la hatene bainhira mak hotu ne’e, ulun toos ba LNG namlele ka dada kadoras no duvida balu ba profitabilidade bele han dékada balu tan atu resolve.

Iha tempu ne’ebá, karik ita nia Fundu Petrolíferu sei labele eziste tan. Karik ita kontinua atu aseleira despeza estadu nian, subar tiha kustu total sira hosi empréstimu nian, osan hosi ne’ebé mak ita sei hetan atu selu fila fali ita nia tusan? Oinsá ita sei halo manutensaun ba ita nia estrada no aeroportu foun no furak sira ne’e? Buat ida importante liu mak, bele ka lae ita nia mestre/a, doutór/a, polísia, funsionáriu/a públiku sei kontinua atu serbí ita nia povu bainhira laiha ona osan atu bele selu sira?

Tinan barak ona La’o Hamutuk fó avizu kona-ba buat fundamental hosi Timor-Leste nia frajilidade fiskál, no ami satisfás no sente triste atu hare evidénsia sira hosi fonte barak ne’ebé fó konfirmasaun loos ba ami nia predisaun sira ne’ebé ladún furak ba Timor-Leste.

Maibé ukun na’in sira nia ulun seidauk nakloke. Buat saida mak bele halo sira hodi bele hare sor-sorin, atu bele hare liu dook duke semana oin ka ba eleisaun tuir mai? Bainhira mak sira bele realiza katak ema liu tokon ida, ne’ebé la’ós de’it hosi sira nia maluk ka sira nia grupu besik sira, depende ba sira atu halo dezenvolvimentu ida ne’ebé ekilíbriu no sustentável?

P.S. Loron ida hafoin La’o Hamutuk publika artigu ne’e, jornál lokál sira fó sai katak Autoridade Nasionál ba Petróleu (ANP) hateten katak ConocoPhillips sei halo “perfurasaun foun” 5-7 durante ba tinan rua oin mai atu “mantén produsaun to’o tinan 2020.” Maibé ANP la esplika sai katak posu foun sira ne’e presiza halo atu supa sai restu petróleu no gas hosi kampu Bayu-Undan nian, no sei la fura kampu foun. ANP nia deklarasaun katak iha “rassio atu susesu ne’e 90%” hosi posu sira ne’e bele loos tanba kampu ida ne’e ema hatene momoos ona, maibé laiha ligasaun ba posibilidade atu hetan rezerva petróleu foun ne’ebé bele aumenta Timor-Leste nia reseita iha futuru.

Tuir mai, perfurasaun foun sira ne’e sei kusta dolar tokon barak liu tan. Kompañia sira sei “rekopera” despeza ida ne’e hosi produsaun Bayu-Undan – nune’e maioria kustu sira ne’e sei kua hosi reseita ne’ebé sei mai ba Timor-Leste.

Ami la hatene karik artigu ida hanesan ne’e mai hosi ANP ne’ebé hakarak atu kria konfuzaun iha públiku, ka husi inkompeténsia jornalista nian, maibé la duvida katak artigu ida ne’e konfunde leitór jornál sira ne’e. Espera sira nia lider sira hatene di’ak liu tan.

10 March 2016

Indicators have consequences

Recent data have not been encouraging for the financial future of this petroleum-export-dependent country. Not only are oil prices still around $40/barrel, but the declining global stock market and the rising U.S. dollar (which caused our investments in other currencies to lose value) swallowed any potential income from Timor-Leste's Petroleum Fund -- the return on the Fund's investments in 2015 was negative $21 million. When combined with low revenues from oil and gas sales and large withdrawals to finance the state budget, the balance in the Petroleum Fund has begun to fall -- at the end of January it was $16.04 billion, the lowest since April 2014 and a billion dollars less than eight months ago.

Oil and finance professionals are invariably optimistic, and we hope that they are right that oil prices will rise again, the stock market will improve, and the U.S. dollar will stabilize against other currencies.  If this happens, the Fund's balance will decline more slowly. However, it will only begin to increase if politicians are brave and far-seeing enough to sharply curtail public spending on wasteful mega-projects with dubious benefits -- a change of direction not visible in current planning.

Nevertheless, one factor in this equation is immutable; it will not change due to global finances or prudent budgeting. Our oil and gas reserves are non-renewable -- once they are sold they no longer exist. The Vice-Minister of Finance recently advised Ministers and other officials not to worry about oil prices because 90% of Timor-Leste's oil and gas has already been extracted and exported.

In fact, even this may be too hopeful. According to the latest reserves statement from Santos, a partner in the Bayu-Undan project, 93.3% of Bayu-Undan's 'Proved' deposits have already been extracted.  Timor-Leste's other recently producing field, Kitan, is already shut down. Although Greater Sunrise may rise some day, the unpredictability of boundary disputes, floating/pipeline obstinacy and dubious profitability could take decades to resolve.

By then, our Petroleum Fund may no longer exist. If we continue to accelerate state spending, hiding the full costs by borrowing, where will the money to repay the debts come from? How will we maintain our nice new roads and airports? More importantly, will teachers, doctors, police and civil servants continue to serve the public when there is no money to pay them?

La'o Hamutuk has warned about Timor-Leste's fundamental fiscal fragility for several years, and we are gratified and saddened to see evidence from many sources confirming our dire predictions.

But decision-makers' heads remain in the sand. What will it take to make them look around, to see beyond next week or the next election? When will they realize that more than a million people, not only their cronies or interest groups, depend on them to advance equitable and sustainable development?
P.S. The day after this blog was published, local newspapers reported the National Petroleum Authority (ANP) saying that ConocoPhillips will drill 5-7 "new wells" during the next two years to "maintain production until 2020." They failed to explain that these new wells are needed to extract the last bits of oil and gas from the Bayu-Undan field, and will not tap into any new fields. ANP's assertion that the wells have a 90% probability of success may be true because this field is already well understood, but it has nothing to do with looking for new petroleum reserves which could enlarge Timor-Leste's future revenues.

Furthermore, drilling these new wells will cost many millions of dollars. This cost is 'recoverable' from  Bayu-Undan  production -- so most if it will be subtracted from revenues which would have come to Timor-Leste.

We do not know if articles like this result from ANP obfuscation or journalistic incompetence, but it's no wonder that the newspaper-reading public is confused. Hopefully their leaders know better.