10 July 2008

Gusmao Government Arrests 21 Students On Monday And Tuesday

Jul 9 (12 hours ago) via jornalista-timor@yahoogroups.com


Dili news by Thomas Freitas.

On Monday morning at 9 o clock, approximatley one hundred students held a protest on their campus, East Timor National University, against the members of the National Parliament. The students are not happy about the MPs who will buy vehicles for themselves, a car each for each member of Parliament. While the students protested peacefully by holding banners, the cost of the protest has resulted in 21 students being detained by the Timorese National Police.

The law states that there may be no demonstrations within 100 metres of government buildings. However the students were protesting on their own campus. The location of the campus is indeed less than 100 metres from the National Parliament; however this is the student's campus, an important place for expression of free speech and demonstrations. The order to arrest the students is not clear come from who? everyones believed thats order came from PM Gusmao himself.

On 23 May 2008, the Council of Ministers has approved the final draft of Mid Year Budget 2008; the total proposed amount is US$773.312 million, to be spent as follows: US$59.4 Million for 12.600 civil servents salaries including Police and Defence Force, US$240 for the food crisis and US$207,4 for Goods and Services, US$1.4 Million of US$39,4 Million from Minor capital item will buy cars for each member of National Parliament, US$114,7 Million for Infrastructure development and US$112,2 Million for pension and social security budget.

The Gusmao Government has almost spent 30% of the Petroleum Fund in his budget deficit. It has cut down the domestic income tax to almost 10% flat rate. The Petroleum Fund established by Fretilin Government has been recognised as the third best transparency model in the world, and now the Fund itself is almost gone.

In order to be sustainable, only US$396.1 Million can be taken out of the Fund, but the Gusmao government has taken an extra US$290.7 Million to balance the prices of construction material and to assist in the food crisis, through tasking his friend, the Vice secretary general of CNRT purchase rice in Asian countries without tender.

The lack of budget execution does not bother Gusmao in increasing the budget. Only US$31.9 from US$347.5 Million has actually been executed for this first trimester; even his previous execution on the transitional budget was not certifiedby the Delloitte Company, who usuallly certifies the execution report from the Timorese government.

The issues of the purchase of luxury cars and the petroleum fund are now big issues in Dili and the whole of the country. Civil society, media and the Timorese people has criticised this budget, but the academics are silent because their money comes from the government. The minister of education Joao Cancio has criticised the estudents, and asked them not to use the Campus as a place for demonstrations. Ironically this minister was previously the Head of the Dili Institute Technology, one of the country's universities.

Today, the student demonstrations are continuing. The police continue to protected the parliament zone and have arrested more than 17 student in this morning.

The crackdown on the students is ironic, considering the pivotal role that students played in East Timor's struggle for independence, a role that PM Gusmao himself has previously acknowledged.

Dili, 12.35 Pm

Syndicated by the East Timor Legal Information Site

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