14 January 2014

So much to do, so little time, with nobody watching

What the “Eventual Committee” is doing this week
The biggest addition would lend $60 million to cash-strapped Cabo Verde.

Timor-Leste's National Parliament has created a closed-door Ad hoc Committee ("Komisaun Eventual") to consider amendments to the Government’s proposed $1.5 billion General State Budget for 2014. This Committee is meeting now, for three to five days, to analyze and reach consensus on the 426 amendments which Members of Parliament have proposed.

La’o Hamutuk feels that this is a serious setback for democracy, as citizens deserve to hear the discussion and voting on many significant issues. The public also needs to know what trade-offs, horse-trading and compromises are being made … as well as what the Members have decided not to talk about.

In the short time available, La’o Hamutuk has tried to analyze the 426 proposed amendments, focusing our attention on the 92 amendments which would change a million or more dollars. These include:
  • 59 which cut the budget by $1 million or more, totaling $467 million in reductions
  • 33 which add $1 million or more, totaling $260 million in additions
  • 17 budget lines which would be doubled or more
  • 33 budget lines which would be cut by at least half
Amendments come from members of all political parties.  Some are intended to cancel poorly planned or over-budgeted projects; others are to add pet projects or items which were forgotten during the Government’s preparation of the budget.

The largest proposals for additions come from CNRT Party members, including:
  • $60 million to create an International Financial Fund to lend money to Cabo Verde’s government
  • $30 million to capitalize the Central Bank of Timor-Leste, which was overlooked earlier
  • $26 million for Public Transfers for the Oecussi Special Economic and Social Zone
  • $15 million for a data center for the Ministry of Finance
  • $14 million in Development Capital for the Oecussi Special Economic and Social Zone
  • $14 million more for the Counterpart Fund in the Ministry of Public Works
  • $10 million for equipment for the new Ministry of Finance Building
  • $10 million to support demobilization of armed groups in Guinea-Bissau
  • $10 million more to support g7+ activities
  • $10 million more to the Ministry of Public Works for rural roads, to be taken from SEPFOPE
  • $8.3 million more for the Finance Ministry office building
  • $6.9 million to pay Timor-Leste’s membership quota for the IMF
  • $5.0 million more for legal services
  • $2.5 million more to host the Lusophone (CPLP) summit
Nearly all the large cuts were proposed by members of FRETILIN:
  • $86 million from various capital projects in the Infrastructure Fund
  • $55 million from Public Transfers, including DNTPSC (Land and Property), SEPFOPE (Vocational Training), ADN, and the Civil Society Fund
  • $43 million from Goods and Services, including professional services, food security, electricity
  • $26 million from the National Development Agency (ADN)
  • $19 million from District Development (PDID) (four amendments)
  • $14 million from Oecussi projects in the Infrastructure Fund
  • $13 million from the MDG-Suco housing program
  • $9.9 million from Minor Capital in various ministries
  • $9.8 million from the Human Capital Development Fund in various items
  • $7.5 million from New Project Design in the Infrastructure Fund
  • $6.0 million from Suai airport
Most of the proposed amendments have only a few sentences of explanation and justification. La’o Hamutuk wishes the Members of the Commission Eventual success in their controversial, huge, rushed and critically important task. On average, they will have less than three minutes to decide on each of the proposed 700 changes to the budget.

See La'o Hamutuk's web page for more information on the budget process.

No comments:

Post a Comment