30 January 2019

Lu-Olo vetoed 2019 OJE: Xanana says the President is illogical


Xanana Gusmao AMP Government 2019
Lu-Olo vetoed 2019 OJE: Xanana says the President is illogical GMN Diario Nacional, January 28, 2019 Language source: Tetun

Timor-Leste’s Oil and Gas Chief Negotiator, Xanana Gusmao considers President of the Republic’s decision to veto the nation’s largest ever budget of US$2.132billion for 2019 is illogical.

“Oh, President had vetoed the bill, had not he? And he called for dialogue, really? I have read his statement and his reasons for vetoing the bill were illogical,” Xanana spoke to media at Nicolau Lobato Airport upon his arrival from abroad on Saturday (26/01).

Xanana, who is also the President of the National Congress for Timorese Reconstruction (CNRT) party, the biggest party in the current three-party coalition government, warned that there would be no dialogue to resolve the problem, let parliament do what it needs to do, overrule the President’s decision regarding 2019 General State Budget (OJE).

On January 23, President Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo vetoed the government’s proposed budget for 2019, criticising the government’s priority of buying foreign assets in 2019.

President Lu-Olo asked parliament to revise the US$2.132 budget ceiling, which allocated about 30 percent to oil and gas projects at the expense of devoting attention to education, health and other public services. Only around one eighth of the budget expenditure is devoted to health, education, clean water and agriculture.

The budget included US$650 million for the buyout of ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell’s holdings in Greater Sunrise gas fields, for which the Timor-Leste’s government committed to pay off, respectively in 2019 and 2020.

The total enacted budget for 2019 is comprised of $214 million for salaries and benefits, $413m for goods and services, $1,013m for public transfers (including $650m for sunrise), $31m for minor capital, $313 for development capital (excluding borrowing), and $87m is borrowed money for development capital.

Finance company warns divisive politics is Timor-Leste’s greatest risk to economic growth in 2019

Finance company warns divisive politics is Timor-Leste’s greatest risk to economic growth in 2019 Independente, January 28, 2019

Findings from a macroeconomic report warn that the biggest risk to Timor-Leste’s economic growth outlook over the next 12 months is the nation’s on-going political instability.

A continued standoff between the ruling government and the President of the Republic is also likely to see further delays in policy-making that would continue to “paralyze the public administration”. Fitch solutions, which used a report released Tuesday after the President of the Republic vetoed the nation’s highest ever budget of $2.132billion and parliament now sits within a 90-day review period to re-approve it with a simple majority, to remind the political sector against spiraling political uncertainty.

“We highlight that the biggest downside risks to Timor-Leste’s economic growth outlook is the government’s failure to pass the budget in a timely fashion and/or a hold-up in the disbursement of state funds due to political deadlock.” Timor-Leste’s government expenditure amounts to between two-thirds and three quarters of the country’s GDP.

“Due to the delay in the passage of the budget last year, many businesses complained that they struggled to stay afloat, and this likely held back the country’s economic recovery.” However, the international finance company predicted that the 2019 budget would be approved in “coming weeks given the margin of support among lawmakers.”

“Our core view is that both sides will be able to arrive at some sort of an agreement and implement the budget sooner rather than later; however, other issues will likely remain unresolved.”

“For instance, we see no end to the face-off on the issue of ministerial nomination which has persisted since May 2018.” Fitch predicts Timor-Leste’s real GDP growth to increase to 4.0 % in 2019, from an estimated 2.3% in 2018, but noted “that risks are weighted to the downside.” Under Timor-Leste law, if parliament approves the budget the President must promulgate the statute within eight days after receiving it.

“Given that the AMP government only has 35 seats (out of 65) in parliament, this means that some members of parliament from the Democratic Party or opposition Fretilin also voted in favor of the proposal, which is reflective of greater collaboration between policymakers.” Fitch warned against delaying budget approval, reminding repercussions of delay in 2018.

“Due to delay in the passage of the budget last year, many businesses complained that they struggled to stay afloat, and this likely held back the country’s economic recovery,” the report said.

“For instance, the head of Timor Plaza, which is the largest shopping center in the country, stated that 2018 ‘was the difficult year’ for the national economy, While Kmanek Group, which owns two largest Supermarkets in Dili, said that sales plunged by 17% in H118 and 25% in H218.”

Martin Hardy did you condemn me for calling the situation a crisis?

A Plenary Meeting of the National Parliament was conducted in Portuguese: Members of parliament did not take it seriously

Você sabe o que está acontecendo? Eu não tenho uma pista.
JUDICIAL SYSTEM MONITORING PROGRAMME
 PROGRAMA MONITORIZASAUN BA SISTEMA JUDISIÁRIU Press Release 24 January 2019 National Parliament - A Plenary Meeting of the National Parliament was conducted in Portuguese: Members of parliament did not take it serious

On Tuesday 22 January 2019 the National Parliament held a plenary meeting in the Portuguese language. The use of Portuguese during a plenary meeting is provided for in Parliamentary Resolution No. 24/2010, paragraph 8, that states that the National Parliament will use Portuguese during a plenary meeting once a month

During this plenary meeting JSMP noted that many members of parliament were laughing and making a commotion by yelling at the acting president of the Chair, His Excellency Luís Roberto, and telling him to stop talking because of his limited ability to express himself in Portuguese. This made the plenary meeting of the National Parliament seem as if it were a playground. Also, members of parliament walked in and out during the plenary as if they had no respect for the Parliament itself.

“The National Parliament is a sovereign organ and members of parliament are representatives of the people, so they should exercise their role with full responsibility to demonstrate dignity and authority and set a good example when performing their role, especially during the plenary”, said the Executive Director of JSMP, Luis de Oliveira Sampaio.

During the plenary meeting Her Excellency MP Olinda Guterres said that the rule set out in the Parliamentary Resolution regarding the use Portuguese during plenary meetings should be removed.

JSMP believes that Portuguese continues to pose a challenge for most public institutions and civil society, however MPs are representatives of the people and they should be serious in implementing and respecting our Constitution and the rules approved by MPs in the National Parliament.

During the third legislature JSMP raised concerns about the use of Portuguese in the plenary which resulted in the plenary not functioning effectively or productively because many MPs did not contribute to discussions and speeches.

JSMP believes that the use of Portuguese twice every month in plenary meetings is a way of promoting and implementing the practical use of this language, however JSMP requests for guarantees that this practice will not reduce the productivity, efficiency and functioning of the National Parliament as a sovereign organ. In particular, the current situation demands for members of parliament to concentrate and be serious in overcoming the political impasse that the State of Timor-Leste is currently dealing with.

For more information, please contact:

Luis de Oliveira Sampaio

Executive Director of JSMP

Phone: 3323883

www.jsmp.tl

17 January 2019

Fretilin members walk out of parliament in protest over petroleum debate

Fretilin members walk out of parliament in protest over petroleum debate Independente, January 14, 2019

Members of the Fretilin Party staged a walkout in parliament on Thursday in protest over the government’s bid to increase access to the nation’s petroleum fund for investment in energy projects, declaring the bid “illegal.”

The proposal, vetoed by the President of the Republic in December, would remove a 20 percent cap on state participation in oil projects, and would allow Sunrise and other projects to bypass approval by parliament.

Fretilin has maintained the decree could misrepresent or dilute the difference between financial assets and other assets. Antonino Bianco said in a press conference to media after the walkout that Fretilin rejected the law change, concerned modifications would reduce accountability and lead to over-stretching of the fund’s use.

But the Fretilin party was accused by opponents of working against national interests. Mariano Assanami Sabino, from the Democrat Party, said development of the nation’s petroleum industry was critical to diversifying Timor-Leste’s economy and improving the livelihoods of the population.

Arao Noe, President of National Parliament, said Fretilin’s rejection of the vote was a matter between its party members and declined to comment further. The walkout did not affect the parliamentary vote, with 41 members of parliament voting in favour to approve the law change.

The President of the Republic, Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo, will have eight days to enact the same bill he refused last year. $650 million is required for the buyout of Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips holdings in the Greater Sunrise gas projects.

The deals would give Timor-Leste a majority state in Greater Sunrise, along with remaining partners including Australia’s Woodside Petroleum and Japan’s Osaka Gas.

State bodies’ arrogance puts Timor-Leste in economic crisis

State bodies’ arrogance puts Timor-Leste in economic crisis Suara Timor Lorosae, January 15, 2019 Language source: Tetun

Arrogance of Timor-Leste’s state bodies has put Timor-Leste in economic crisis since 2017 and if the situation continues, then it would worsen the current economic crisis and people would continue suffering.

Academic from Institute of Business, Pedro Ximenes said Timor-Leste’s economy had stood still since 2017 due to political impasse and if the government, national parliament, and president of the republic kept it up, then Timorese people would suffer and be victims of political arrogance.

“If the National Parliament, the Government and President of the Republic continue this game, it will make the economy in the country worst and people will continue to suffer and the economy of the country has stood still for two years,” Ximenes told STL on Friday.

Ximenes made the comments amid growing anxiety over 2019 State Budget disapproval by President of the Republic as the hearing cycle is coming to an end. Ximenes said the state leaders needed to put aside their differences and uphold people’s interest to resolve the current impasse.

Parliament agrees on a candidate for Anti-Corruption Commissioner


Parliament agrees on a candidate for Anti-Corruption Commissioner Independente, January 15, 2019 Language source: Tetun

All parliamentary benches have reached an agreement to appoint a new Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) Commissioner to replace Aderito Tilman whose mandate ended in October 2018.

At the conclusion of Mr. Tilman’s term, the government had proposed two candidates the out-going Commissioner himself and Sergio Hornai, the President of Timor-Leste’s Public Defenders, but benches in parliament disagreed, putting the appointment of new KAK Commissioner on postponement until today.

Addressing parliament, Democratic Party (PD) Bench Deputy Chairman, Adriano Do Nascimento said Candidate Aderito Tilman had been going back to working as prosecutor after his term as KAK Commissioner ended last year, therefore, before parliament voting for these two candidates, it needed to confirm with the candidates.

“I want to ask, has Mr. Tilman resigned from his candidacy? The government needs to clarify about the candidates’ readiness,” Nascimento said yesterday at National Parliament.

Echoing Nascimento’s words, Joaquim Dos Santos from Fretilin Party, said it was important to make sure the two candidates still wanted to be KAK Commissioner before parliament voted for them.

“We need to know if the candidates still want to continue their candidacies or not, even if one of them resign, we could still continue with the voting,” Dos Santos said.

Responding to the concerns, National Parliament President, Arao Noe said the two candidates had not yet sent any official letter to parliament about stepping down from their candidacies, therefore, he was confident, their candidacies were still valid, but he would confirm with the government before scheduling the voting for the new KAK Commissioner.

Final hearing of 2019 OJE, President Lu-Olo to consult with the Council of State

Final hearing of 2019 OJE, President Lu-Olo to consult with the Council of State Independente, January 15, 2019 Language source: Tetun

President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo says he needs to consult with the Council of State before deciding whether to promulgate or veto the 2019 State Budget (OJE), as the hearing cycle is coming to an end and public pressure for the promulgation of the budget growing. T

he President is torn between enacting the proposed budget to put an end to a protracted economic crisis in the country due to political stalemate or vetoing the budget as large amount of money are allocatesd to Greater Sunrise Development and gas- processing industry in Timor-Leste’s southern coast.

In a press release from President Office, Lu-Olo said he would organize a hearing with the Council of State which focused on 2019 OJE on Tuesday (15/01).

The Council of State comprises of former President of the Republics, Jose Ramos Horta and Xanana Gusmao, the Speaker of National Parliament Arao Noe, Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak, five citizens elected by National Parliament namely Eduarado de Deus Barreto, Aurora Ximenes, Jose Cornelio Guterres, Arcangelo de Jesus Goveia Leite, Jose Dos Santos Naimori, and five more citizens appointed by the President himself and they are Oscar Lima, Faustino Da Costa, Alcino De Araujo Barris, Maria Dadi Soares Magno and Laura Soares Abrantes.

On December 22, National Parliament approved a US$2.132 million 2019 budget with 8 percent allocated for investment in the agriculture and food security, education, and health sectors.

In the first day of the hearing, Lu-Olo had warned the government’s proposed 2019 budget failed to consider the needs of the Timor-Leste’s poorest rural people, due to its low agricultural sector expenditure.

The $2.132 billion budget ceiling for 2019 of which only 1 percent is allocated to the agriculture sector. This is compared to 33% for major oil and gas projects, including Tasi Mane and the purchase of Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips’ stakes in the Greater Sunrise natural gas fields for $300 million and $350 million respectively.

Lu-Olo said the government’s failure to prioritize developing the country’s agricultural sector was “very concerning,” as it sat at odds to the need to the country’s large rural population.

He said improving the lives of Timor-Leste’s rural poor by helping develop the agricultural sector was “key to changing people’s lives.”

Over 67% of TimorLeste’s population lives in rural areas and are largely dependent on agricultural for their livelihood, according to World Bank statistics.

13 January 2019

Political uncertainty impedes development of Greater Sunrise and Pipeline to Timor-Leste

Political uncertainty impedes development of Greater Sunrise and Pipeline to Timor-Leste Timor Post, January 10, 2019 Language source: Tetun

Professor of Political and Social Science at the  Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL), Victor Soares, said Timor-Leste’s political uncertainty might impede the development of Greater Sunrise (GS) oil and gas fields and its pipeline to Timor-Leste.

Victor made the comment amid the setback of the Timor-Leste’s government’s plan to buy out ConocoPhillips and Royal Dutch Shell’s holding in Greater Sunrise fields after President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo vetoed the Amendments to the Petroleum Activities Law last month.

Despite the veto, the Timorese government continued pushing for the buyout by putting US$650 million in the 2019 State Budget causing fear that President of the Republic might also veto the 2019 state budget.

“If we buyout ConocoPhillips’ 30 percent and Shell’s 26 percent stakes, we have the right to push for Greater Sunrise Development and its pipeline to Timor-Leste, but the current political standoff and the separation of national leaders have impacted on the development of Greater Sunrise and its pipeline,” Victor told Timor Post at UNTL campus on Wednesday (09/01).

The Sunrise and Troubadour gas fields, together known as Greater Sunrise, were discovered in 1974 and hold around 5.1 trillion cubic feet of gas, according to the project’s operator, Australia’s Woodside Petroleum.

The development of Greater Sunrise gas field had been long delayed due to a protracted maritime dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste that was finally agreed upon in March 2018 which put the majority of the fields into Timor-Leste’s ownership. Since then TimorLeste has stepped up its efforts to pipe Greater Sunrise to Timor-Leste to boost its economic development.

Victor said Greater Sunrise was national issue, therefore, he called on national leaders to put aside their differences and uphold national interest to bring prosperity to the country.

Academics call on President of the Republic not to veto 2019 OJE

Academics call on President of the Republic not to veto 2019 OJE GMN Diario Nacional, January 10, 2019 Language source: Tetun

Academics have called on President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo not to veto 2019 State Budget (OJE) Proposal, saying the veto will worsen the current economic situation due to protracted political deadlock.

Academic representatives from Universidade da Paz (UNPAZ), Universidade Nacional Timor Lorosa’e (UNTL), Institute of Business (IOB), Dili Institute of Technology (DIT), UNITAL, and UNDIL made the call in a meeting with President Lu-Olo on Wednesday (09/01).

“We pleaded with the President of the Republic not to veto 2019 OJE and warn him of the impacts of the veto upon Timorese people and President said he would considers all the inputs when making decision to 2019 OJE,” Academics’ spokesperson, Lucas Da Costa told reporters outside Presidential Palace after meeting with President Lu-Olo.

He said a 1-year political impasse had left many small companies shutdown their activities and also many Timorese jobless as there were no projects throughout 2018. Early this week, former President of the Republic, Jose Ramos Horta had also warned of a prolonged economic crisis if President of the Republic vetoed 2019 State Budget.

Parliament to reappraise the Petroleum Activities Law Changes, Noe says it does not need two thirds votes

Parliament to reappraise the Petroleum Activities Law Changes, Noe says it does not need two thirds votes Independente, January 10, 2019 Language source: Tetun

The National Parliament (PN) has scheduled a reappraisal of the proposed changes to the Petroleum Activities Law, which was vetoed by the President of the Republic Francisco Guterres Lu-Olo today (10/01).

On December 11, 2018 President Lu-Olo vetoed the amendments of the 2005 Law on petroleum activities. The Timorese Government proposed to amend Timor-Leste’s 2005 Petroleum Activities Law to smooth the State and its public company to participate in the Greater Sunrise Development since the law bans the nation and its public company from owning more than 20% share in a petroleum project.

The amendments of the law will also change the conditions in which money from the nation’s Petroleum Fund can be used to finance the purchase of Royal Dutch Shell and ConocoPhillips’ holdings in the Greater Sunrise gas project.

Timor-Leste’s government has agreed to buy out ConocoPhillips’ 30 percent and Royal Dutch Shell’s 26 percent stakes in the Greater Sunrise consortium for US$350 million and US$300 million, respectively after signing the purchase deals with the two companies in October and November 2018.

National Parliament President Arao Noe said all benches in parliament had agreed to discuss and vote for the new appraisal of the law on Thursday (10/01) in order to send it back to President of the Republic for promulgation.

“The National Parliament is required to do a new appraisal of the Petroleum Activities Law that President of the Republic vetoed to alter and confirm the proposed changes on the law,” Noe told reporters at PN on Wednesday (09/01).

Noe said after learning the President’s reasons for vetoing the proposed changes to the law, the proponent benches thought that the new appraisal did not require two-thirds votes of the active parliament members as written in article 88, point 3 Constitution.

Under the Timor-Leste Constitution, article 88, point 1 and 2, in the event of a Presidential veto, the law changes can be considered by the National Parliament, which has up to 90 days to confirm it by an absolute majority, then return it back to the President who is mandated to approve it within eight days.




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