Earlier this month, Timor-Leste’s National Petroleum Authority (ANP) published this advertisement several times in local newspapers, looking for a local clinic or hospital which can provide health care for their staff and their families. Like everyone else in Timor-Leste, they are not satisfied with the level of health care provided by the public system and are looking for something better.
La’o Hamutuk shares their concern, and we have often urged the Government to spend more on health care than the 3.3% allocated in the 2012 State Budget, much less than most developing countries. But we are uncomfortable when regulators in the oil and gas sector decide to spend money from the people’s natural resources to obtain better care for themselves than is available to other public employees.
When the Council of Ministers created the ANP in 2008, La’o Hamutuk raised questions about its budget and decision-making, which are not subject to democratic administrative and oversight processes applicable to other state institutions. We also raised concerns that ANP receives revenues directly from oil companies in violation of the principle underlying the 2005 Petroleum Fund Law that all petroleum revenues must be deposited in the Petroleum Fund (Article 6.1) and allocated through the State Budget approved by Parliament (Article 7).
In many resource-curse afflicted countries, people with the opportunity to skim money from oil and gas activities become a privileged, corrupt class. We do not think this has happened yet in Timor-Leste, and hope it never will. Pay close attention!
Click here to read La'o Hamutuk 4 April response to the comments to this posting.