08 December 2023

Government should be realistic and invest in sustainable sectors, not continue to fantasize

 Liga ba blog ida ne’e iha lian Tetum 

The Government proposed its 2024 State Budget Law to the National Parliament on 23 November. The overall objective of the budget proposal is to describe the Government’s priority to empower the country’s future by investing in the most productive sectors, but none of them are in the proposed appropriations, so how is the Government seriously investing in sustainable sectors?

The proposed 2024 fiscal envelope is larger than the highest scenario the Government presented at the Budget Day meeting in September. Financing for the 2024 State Budget continues to be highly dependent on the Petroleum Fund (PF), which covers about 84% of expenditures (including most of the money carried over from balances, which were transferred from the PF in previous years).

Government officials often speak of the need to seek sustainable and diverse alternative investments. However, notwithstanding the stated intention of the 2024 State Budget, they allocate still more money to the Tasi Mane Project and Greater Sunrise, whose total costs have never been made clear. We still do not know how much these projects will benefit our people and our nation, or what their environmental, land and human rights costs and risks will be.

Up to now, our economy depends on state expenditure, mainly from the PF, and we will struggle when Timor-Leste no longer has the Petroleum Fund. Its upcoming emptiness will severely impact the whole economy, including public- and private-sector employment as well as GDP, and we are very worried.

Tasi Mane wins, essential sectors lose

Timor-Leste has already spent $650 million (plus $130 million in interest to date) from the PF to purchase participation in the Greater Sunrise joint venture, and has spent $1.3 billion more on components of the Tasi Mane Project, which the Government says is needed to develop Greater Sunrise. According to the proposed budget, the Government will spend $13 million on the Tasi Mane Project and another $13 million on Greater Sunrise in 2024.

In view of the allocations in the proposed 2024 State Budget, the Government still does not prioritize essential areas, and we are concerned that the Government’s promises to improve peoples’ living conditions, which remain a major concern, will not be kept. Allocations to the critically important functions of health, education, clean water and sanitation comprise only about 17% of the total budget.

The Government has created a Unit to Combat Stunting, which will get $300,000 to provide food for pregnant mothers and small children. We think that a stronger way to combat malnutrition would be through strategic and long-term programs to promote and uplift local food, reducing domestic consumption dominated by imported food.

Human resources are important pillars for the country’s development, ensuring the sustainability of the state and helping people escape from poverty and hardship. Although the Government says it prioritizes human capital investment, there is little allocation to sectors which would improve human quality. How can the state respond to this situation when the state itself does not prioritize and value its people?

Agriculture or ASEAN?

The proposed 2024 State Budget still has no concrete policy to identify pathways for diversification to create a resilient and sustainable economy. As in past years, the agricultural sector continues to be neglected, receiving only 2.2% of the total 2024 budget. It is important to prioritize productive sectors such as agriculture and fisheries because, according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 2023, Timor-Leste is “one of the most vulnerable countries in the world in terms of its susceptibility to climatic shocks, such as La Niña, El Niño, and tropical cyclones.”

According to the 2019 Timor-Leste Agriculture Census, we have the potential to grow many types of food, but production is not yet able to meet domestic demand, and potential products are not being developed properly. Therefore, the policy of economic diversification should be realistic, not only an election campaign slogan.

Many people expect that joining ASEAN will benefit Timor-Leste, but we have not yet prepared our economy and important sectors such as agriculture.ASEAN will endanger Timor-Leste, as other countries can dominate our economy and we will continue to rely on products from abroad. It may also threaten our sovereignty and replace Timorese workers with people from ASEAN member countries. Although the Government considers the $4.3 million allocated for ASEAN in this budget to be a small amount, we think that ASEAN is not urgent, and that food sovereignty is more important.

Politically, the Government is very interested in joining ASEAN and hopes that integrating our economy and trade into regional and international markets will provide opportunities for foreign investment and improve our economy through job creation. On the other hand, there is still no in-depth explanation of what disadvantages Timor-Leste will face when it integrates into ASEAN, such as complying with the ASEAN free trade agreements and the responsibilities of membership.

It would be better if the budget helped farmers improve production, strengthened small processing industries and supported young people to produce livestock, fish and other products, which will be more valuable than the uncertain benefits of ASEAN.

These and other ideas are explained more fully in La’o Hamutuk’s 6 December submission (Tetum) to the National Parliament. You can find more information on the 2024 State Budget here.

07 December 2023

Governu Tenke Realistíku ba Investe iha Setór Sustentável, La’ós Kontinua Mehi Fantazia

 Link to this blog in English 

Foin lalais ne’e iha 23 Novembru 2023, Governu hato’o sira nia proposta Lei OJE 2024 ba uma fukun Parlamentu Nasionál. Objetivu jerál husi proposta OJE 2024 nian deskreve ho di’ak tebes kona ba Governu nia prioridade atu hakbiit futuru nasaun nian liu husi investe iha setór ne’ebé produtivu liu, maibé hirak ne’e hotu la hatudu iha apropriasaun proposta OJE, oinsá Governu bele duni investe sériu iha setór sustentável sira. 

Proposta tetu fiskál ba tinan 2024 aas liu ho senáriu dahaat ne’ebé Governu aprezenta ona iha sorumutu Jornada Orsamentál. Detallu husi finansiamentu totál ba OJE 2024 kontinua depende maka’as ba Fundu Petrolíferu (FP) ho kuaze 84% inklui carryover ne’ebé maioria transfere ona husi FP iha pasadu. 

Governu no inklui entidade sira dala barak hato’o diskursu kona ba urjénsia atu buka investimentu alternativu ne’ebé sustentável no diversifikadu. Maibé haree intensaun husi proposta OJE 2024 kontinua la sai atensaun prioridade, sira nafatin aloka osan boot liu ba Projetu Tasi Mane no Greater Sunrise ne’ebé too ohin loron seidauk klaru ba previzaun orsamentál ba kustu totál husi projetu rua ne’e, benefísiu reál ba povu no nasaun inklui risku husi aspetu ambientál, rai no direitus umanus.

Realidade durante ne’e dependénsia ekonomia ba despeza estadu nian maioria husi FP, no sei susar liu bainhira Timor-Leste laiha ona Fundu Petrolíferu, sei fó impaktu maka’as ba ekonomia tomak inklui pagamentu ba empregu públiku sira, iha setór privadu no mós PIB hatudu ba ita oinsá preokupasaun ne’ebé kuaze daudaun ne’e ita hasoru. 

Tasi Mane manan, setór esensiál sira lakon

Timor-Leste foti ona osan tokon $650 (no mós tokon $130 iha funan até agora) husi FP hodi sosa partisipasaun iha konsorsiu Greater Sunrise, no gasta tiha ona biliaun $1,3 resin tan ba komponente balun iha Projetu Tasi Mane, ne’ebé Governu define nudár kondisaun ba dezenvolvimentu kampu Greater Sunrise. Haktuir ba proposta ne’e, Governu propoin atu gasta tokon $13 ba Projetu Tasi Mane no tokon $13 tan ba Greater Sunrise, no setór produtivu sira kuaze la hetan oportunidade iha polítika finansiál ba OJE tinan 2024. 

Haree ba alokasaun sira iha proposta OJE 2024, Governu nafatin la fó prioridade másimu ba setór esensiál sira, no ami preokupa ho promesa Governu nian atu hadi’ak kondisaun moris povu nian ne’ebé nafatin sai preokupasaun boot. Alokasaun ba setór esensiál sira hanesan saúde, edukasaun, bee moos no saneamentu kuaze 17% de’it husi total OJE 2024.

Inisiativa husi Governu atu kria Unidade Kombate Stunting hodi prevee rihun $300, atu fó merenda ba inan isin rua no labarik ki'ik sira. Ami hanoin katak, maneira kombate nutrisaun presiza reforsa liu tan liu husi programa ne’ebé estratéjiku no longu prazu liu atu promove elevasaun ai-han lokál hodi minimiza ba konsumu doméstika ne’ebé domina ho ai-han importadu.

Rekursu umanu nudár pilár importante ba dezenvolvimentu nasaun nian, hodi garante sustentabilidade estadu no hasai povu husi kiak no mukit. Ita haree iha polítika Governu fó prioridade ba investimentu kapitál umanu, maibé iha alokasaun setór importante hodi hadi’ak kualidade umanu nafatin la hetan atensaun sériu. Oinsá estadu bele responde situasaun ne’e bainhira estadu rasik la prioritiza no valoriza nia povu?

Agrikultura ka ASEAN?

Proposta OJE tinan 2024 kontinua la hatudu polítika konkretu oinsá buka dalan alternativu hodi diversifika iha ekonomia ida ne’ebé reziliente no sustentável. Setór agrikultura iha kada tinan kontinua laiha mudansa iha nia alokasaun ho de’it 2,2% husi total OJE 2024. Importante atu fó prioridade ba setór produtivu hanesan agrikultura no peska, tanba bazeia ba Integrated Food Security Phase Classification 2023, Timor-Leste nasaun ida ne’ebé vulneravel no falta kapasidade bainhira hasoru La Niña, El Niño, no udan-anin tropikál.

Tuir Sensus Agríkola 2019, ita iha poténsia ba variedade ai-han oin-oin maibé rezultadu produsaun seidauk bele responde demanda doméstika, inklui produtu potensiál sira seluk la dezenvolve ho adekuadu. Nune’e polítika diversifikasaun ekonomia tenke realistíku la’ós kontinua sai slogan ba periodu eleitorál de’it. 

Maske iha espektasaun oin-oin katak hola parte iha ASEAN sei lori benefísiu ba Timor-Leste, maibé bainhira ita seidauk prepara ita nia ekonomia no setór importante sira hanesan agrikultura, ASEAN sei lori risku ba Timor-Leste, tanba nasaun seluk bele domina ita nia ekonomia no kontinua dependénsia ba produtu sira husi rai seluk no bele mós sai ameasa ba ita nia soberania no iha tendénsia boot atu traballadór Timoroan lakon partisipasaun iha empregu ho traballadór sira husi membru ASEAN. Maske Governu konsidera OJE adere ba ASEAN tokon $4,3 montante ki’ik, ami hanoin katak ASEAN la’ós urjente, soberania ai-han mak importante.

Politikamente, Governu iha interese boot hakarak adere ba ASEAN ho esperansa kona-ba benefísiu oi-oin husi ASEAN katak integrasaun ekonomia no komérsiu ba merkadu rejionál no internasionál, fó oportunidade ba investimentu husi rai li’ur no sai poténsia foun ba hadi’ak ekonomia ba kria servisu (empregu). Iha tempu hanesan, seidauk iha esplikasaun kle’an kona-ba saida mak dezvantajen ne’ebé Timor-Leste sei enfrenta bainhira integra ona ba ASEAN, hanesan tenke halo tuir akordu komérsiu livre ASEAN nian no tenke kumpre devér nudár membru.

Di’ak liu orsamentu ne’e ajuda ba toos na’in sira hadi’ak produsaun, haforsa indústria ki’ik prosesamentu, apoiu ba joven sira prodús no hakiak animál, ikan no atividade produtivu sira seluk sei iha valor boot liu kompara ho ASEAN ne’ebé mak inserteza.

Iha mós preokupasaun seluk ho versaun kompletu liu ne’ebé ami hato’o ona ba Parlamentu Nasionál liu husi submisaun iha loron 6 Dezembru 2023. Bele hetan informasaun tan kona-ba Orsamentu Jeral Estadu ba 2024 iha ne'e.