18 April 2009

FRETILIN: World Bank/Ausaid Asked to clarify East Timor Ministry of Finance Appointments



Media Release

Dili, Wednesday, 15 April 2009

World Bank, AusAID asked to clarify Timor Leste Finance Ministry appointments

FRETILIN, the largest party in Timor Leste's parliament has written to the World Bank and AusAID seeking access to documents regarding the recruitment of advisors and consultants by the Minister of Finance, Ms  Emilia Pires.

FRETILIN Vice President Arsenio Bano MP told journalists in Dili today the World Bank and AusAID fund the advisor jobs, but the Gusmao government refuses to give parliament details of the appointments.

Bano said the FRETILIN letter reflects a growing concern by MPs, including from the government's own 'Parliamentary Majority Alliance' (AMP) bloc, regarding the recruitment process, qualifications and salaries of many of these advisors and consultants.
Two AMP chiefs - the Democratic Party's (PD) deputy leader, Rui Menezes and the Social Democratic Party's (PSD) leader, Fernando Gusmao – on March 30 called for a parliamentary committee to inquire  into the controversial recruitment of national directors for the ministry, including the involvement of politically appointed  Australian advisors.

FRETILIN wrote to all Timor Leste's development partners attending a conference in Dili on April 7-10, including the World Bank and AUSAID, calling on them to "ensure mechanisms are put in place to effectively and transparently manage and oversee the implementation of external assistance."

The letter, dated April 9, 2009, added FRETILIN's concerns regarding  the hiring "of 'advisors' and 'consultants' with doubtful,
inappropriate, inadequate and even non-existent technical expertise of relevant work experience, simply because of personal or political connections to the de facto government. Such lack of transparency and  probity in action weakens all of our efforts to build up good governance and the rule of law in Timor-Leste."

Bano commented: "We are certain that our concerns registered with the  development partners. But we want to make sure that the momentum does not stop there and that all external assistance, aimed, after all, at poverty reduction and building a democratic state under the rule of law, is spent with the utmost transparency and probity.

"So we have written a second letter today to the World Bank and AusAID, asking them for details of positions funded, copies of the
contracts and recruitment process documents and the like. This is  the same documentation and information we have unsuccessfully sought from Xanana Gusmao's de facto government.

"We expect the World Bank and AusAID to help ensure transparency and probity in the recruiting of advisors for the Ministry of Finance."

FRETILIN formally asked Minister Pires and Prime Minister Gusmao for the documents in June 2008, and again during the budget debate in January 2009.

"The sooner parliament has this information, the sooner it can  determine what mechanisms if any should be adopted to remedy any deficiencies," Bano said.

For further information contact Jose Teixeira on +670 728 7080 or  Arsenio Bano on +670 741 9505

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