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

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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

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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.

Estadu Timor-Leste Tenke Pratika Di’ak Liu Tan Partisipasaun Públiku no Transparénsia Hodi Haktuir ba Klasifikasaun Internasionál

 Link to this blog in English 

Foin lalais ne’e 30 Maiu 2022, Parseiru Orsamentál Internasionál (International Budget Partnership - IBP) fó sai rezultadu husi peskiza (Open Budget Survey - OBS) 2021 ne’ebé hatudu mudansa di’ak iha sasukat balu kompara ba iha periodu survey sira liu ba. Survey ida ne’e avalia nivel transparénsia, partisipasaun husi públiku, no fiskalizasaun iha prosesu orsamentál iha nasaun 120 inklui Timor-Leste. Rezultadu survey ida ne’e hatudu katak valór ba transparénsia husi nasaun 120 mak atinje kuaze 20% kompara ho 2008. Jerálmente Timor-Leste nia transparénsia aumenta, no ida ne’e di’ak liu kompara ho médiu mundiál. Maibé valór partisipasaun nafatin hetan konsiderasaun ki’ik tebes kompara ba 2015-2017, ne’ebé kuaze menus sorin balu husi nivel médiu mundiál ka piór liu. Seluk, maske valór fiskalizasaun hatudu progresu di’ak, maibé estadu Timor-Leste presiza duni atu estabelese instituisaun ida atu realiza fiskalizasaun ba orsamentu.

Oinsá Rezultadu Survey OBS ba Timor-Leste?

Ba rezultadu tinan ida ne’e, Timor-Leste nia valór hatudu mudansa ne’ebé di’ak tebes kompara ho periodu sira liu ba, valór transparénsia aumenta ba 52 husi 100 no valór fiskalizasaun orsamentu ba 56 husi 100. Maske nune’e, nasaun ida ne’e seidauk hatudu nia kometimentu loloos atu promove partisipasaun ema hotu nian, tanba la konsege hatudu mudansa, valór partisipasaun aumenta pontu ida de’it kompara ho survey 2019, ba 7 husi 100. Gráfiku iha leten hatudu progresu ba mudansa iha valór Timor-Leste ho médiu mundiál sira dezde tinan 2015.
 
Karik ami rekoñese ba situasaun global hanesan pandemia bele hamosu nesesidade urjente maibé ida ne’e la’ós sai razaun atu Governu Timor-Leste la halo konsultasaun ho públiku durante prosesu preparasaun, fiskalizasaun too iha prosesu ezekusaun orsamentu. Hafoin halibur informasaun no dadus sira husi OBS 2021 remata, iha tinan rua ikus Governu iha esforsu balu atu halo mudansa ba polítika sira hanesan mudansa ba Lei Enkuadramentu Orsamentál too iha Lei ikus ba Lei Grande Opsaun do Planu. Mezmu nune’e, ami haree katak laiha espasu nato’on ba Parlamentu rasik nudár órgaun importante atu estuda no analiza kle’an ba proposta ne’ebé hato’o husi Governu, inklui Lei hirak ne’e aprovadu de’it husi Parlamentu lahó konsultasaun ne’ebé kle’an ba públiku.
 
Bazeia ba relatóriu foun, Timor-Leste kuaze kumpre sasukat xave sira hodi publika dokumentu importante kona ba orsamentu. Husi total livru orsamentu ualu, ba survey ida ne’e hatudu dokumentu 2 de’it mak tarde tebes atu fó sai ba públiku hanesan Pre-Budget Statement no Mid-Year Report. Maske hatudu iha figura tuir mai Timor-Leste nia pozisaun médiu kompara ho nasaun sira hanesan, Vietnam, Kamboja no Myanmar, nasaun ne’e nafatin piór liu kompara ho nasaun Malázia, Indonézia, Filipina no Tailándia. 

Haktuir ba investigadór prinsipál husi La’o Hamutuk ba survey ida ne’e salienta katak maske Timor-Leste hatudu valór aumentu iha transparénsia, presiza nafatin hatudu esplikasaun ne’ebé klaru liu tan ba dadus no projesaun sira liu-liu ba iha reseita no despeza sira ne’ebé tenke refleta ba kondisaun atuál, inklui hatudu projesaun sériu liu hodi tetu ba kondisaun Fundu Petrolíferu ne’ebé besik atu mamuk ba tinan sira tuir mai. Maske asuntu FP la hola parte iha survey ida ne’e, bainhira ko’alia kona ba transparénsia signifika entidade hotu iha Governu presiza hatudu sira nia kometimentu atu kumpre no fó valór ba transparénsia ne’e rasik, inklui publikasaun ba informasaun importante sira, hanesan ezemplu relatóriu anuál FP ne’ebé publika tarde no la fornese informasaun konsistente kona ba valór empréstimu husi FP ba TimorGap. 

Aleinde ne’e, tuir investigadór ne’e katak importante mós ba Governu liu husi Lei Nu.2/2022, Lei Enkuadramentu Orsamentál ida ne’e atu hadi’ak liu tan transparénsia iha prosesu orsamentu sira no kria mós oportunidade ba partisipasaun públiku.
 

Investigadór prinsipál ba Timor-Leste iha survey ida ne’e, peskizadóra La’o Hamutuk Eliziaria Febe Gomes, nota katak “Ami apresia ba esforsu Governu atu fó espasu uitoan ba sosiedade sivíl atu asiste konsultasaun iha prosesu formulasaun orsamentu liu husi soru mutu jornada orsamentál, maibé karik di’ak liu tan atu loke espasu mós ba prosesu formulasaun iha nivel ministériu sira no mós iha Komisaun Revizaun Orsamentu Polítika (KROP) antes hetan aprovasaun husi Konsellu Ministru no submete ba parlamentu, tanba soru mutu jornada orsamentál la’ós fatin atu deside, nune’e di’ak tebes atu maximiza partisipasaun sosiedade sivíl no reprezentante públiku hahú kedas husi inísiu too iha nia revizaun. Haktuir ba valór iha leten hatudu katak Timor-Leste nafatin iha nivel aseitavel nia okos kompara ho nasaun Vietnam ne’ebé konsege hadi’ak nivel partisipasaun.”

“Timor-Leste iha oportunidade boot liu atu hadi’ak no atu promove liu tan partisipasaun, tanba ita hatudu ona ba mundu katak ita respeita tebes valor demokrátiku, nune’e iha duni dalan atu ba oin promove no inklui ema hotu nia opiniaun no partisipasaun iha nivel desizaun polítika. Nune’e, povu hotu iha Timor-Leste bele sente sai na’in ba desizaun sira no sira bele fiar no hatene katak sira nia osan Governu uza duni atu hadi’ak sira nia moris.”

Sasukat sira iha Open Budget Survey 2021

  • Transparénsia orsamentál (Budget transparency) avalia iha OBS liu husi disponibilidade ba públiku no kont¬eúdu husi dokumentu importante ualu orsamentu nian ne’ebé governu sira tenke públika tuir padraun internasionál. Espesífikamente, ezamina dokumentu no relatóriu sira ne’ebé publika iha online tuir tempu determinadu no fó sai informasaun ida ne’ebé komprensivu no detallu.

Maske hasoru disputa entre partidu sira iha 2019, parlamentu nafatin aprova orsamentu. Maske tarde kuaze fulan ida tanba la hetan aprovasaun ka veto husi Prezidente Repúblika, Timor-Leste hatudu mudansa signifikativu ba nivel transparénsia, liu husi publika ona livru Orsamentu ba Sidadaun “Citizens’ Budget” no Relatóriu Tinan ikus “Year-End Report” .

Valór transparénsia Timor-Leste nian mak 52 husi 100, menus husi 61 hanesan valór mínimu atu promove debate iha públiku ida ne’ebé informadu, valór ne’e mós hetan pozisaun 48 ne’ebé inklui husi nasaun 120

  • Partisipasaun husi públiku (Public participation) avalia bazeia ba oportunidade formal ba organizasaun no ema sivíl sira atu partisipa no fó hanoin sira durante prosesu orsamentu.

Valór media global ba partisipasaun públiku ida ne’e aat tebes, 14 husi 100.

Timor-Leste hetan de’it valór 7, piór liu kompara ho nasaun sira iha Sudeste Ázia.

  • Fiskalizasaun (Oversight) sukat bazeia ba funsaun husi lejislatura no Instituisaun Supremu Auditoria (SAI) iha prosesu orsamentu.

Valór 61 husi 100, ida ne’e konsidera adekuadu iha fiskalizasaun.

Timor-Leste hetan valór 56.

Implikasaun Rezultadu OBS ba Timor-Leste

Bazeia ba esperiénsia La’o Hamutuk nudár organizasaun sosiedade sivíl ne’ebé tau matan ba prosesu orsamentál, investigadór observa katak Parlamentu Nasionál iha vontade di’ak atu partilla informalmente ho ami ba relatóriu no paresér husi alterasaun ba Lei Orsamentu sira, maske dala ruma ami la hetan konvite atu hato’o direta ami nia testemuña ba proposta lei sira. Entretantu, ami nafatin enkoraja Parlamentu inklui instituisaun sira atu publika informasaun no materiais sira ne’e ho ofisialmente iha lian ne’ebé fasil atu komprende no iha fatin ne’ebé ema hotu bele asesu. 

Ezemplu ida foin lalais akontese mak bainhira Governu hato’o proposta ba retifikasaun ba Lei OJE 2022 iha Maiu tinan ne’e ho pedidu atu halo diskusaun ho karákter urjénsia no la konsege loke espasu no informa ba públiku. Situasaun ne’e hatudu frakeza boot iha partisipasaun tanba la envolve sosiedade sivíl no públiku atu hato’o opiniaun ka sujestaun ruma. Maske ami apresia relatóriu no paresér Komisaun C Parlamentu Nasionál nian ba Lei ida ne’e, konsiente katak Governu nia Espozisaun Motivu susar atu justifika nia urjénsia, maioria deputadu fó tiha ona votu a favór ba proposta husi proposta urjénsia ida ne’e. 

Objetivu husi survey OBS ida ne’e, atu ajuda nasaun ida-idak inklui Timor-Leste bele konsidera povu nudár sentru ba tetu hotu iha prosesu orsamentál estadu nian inklui sira mós bele nafatin akompaña oinsá Governu jere sira nia osan no oinsá gasta ho prudente liu no bele responde duni ba povu sira nia nesesidade. Dadus no informasaun sira iha survey ida ne’e koleta husi sosiedade sivíl independente no iha koñesimentu kle’an ba orsamentu no akompaña prosesu orsamentu sira, ne’ebé la hola parte ba kualkér grupu ka parte ida. Hafoin rezultadu hirak ne’e hetan revizaun husi entidade relevante hanesan avalia or no reprezentante Governu rasik liu husi MF hodi avalia no fó komentáriu antes informasaun hirak ne’e publika. 

La’o Hamutuk nafatin kontinua servisu hamutuk ho maluk sosiedade sivíl sira inklui fahe nafatin informasaun atuál no real ba públiku hodi asegura katak Governu nafatin tau atensaun aas ba limitasaun sira ne’ebé ita iha, liu-liu ba kondisaun ne’ebé besik ona tama ba rai-naruk fiskál (fiscal cliff) tanba de’it riku soin limitadu no úniku ne’ebé tuir projesaun sei remata ba tinan balu tuir mai. Ami mós servisu hamutuk ho IBP atu ajuda kapasita maluk sosiedade sivíl sira iha nivel nasionál no lokál atu komprende no hatene kle’an liu oinsá hala’o advokasia no halo analiza rasik ba orsamentu sira. 

Bele hetan relatoriu OBS kompletu tomak kona-ba Timor-Leste iha ne'e.

Bele hetan informasaun adisionál husi La'o Hamutuk kona-ba finansas estadu nian iha ne'e.