01 May 2012

National Petroleum Authority Health Policy 'Criminal': Ramos-Horta

By: Manuel da Silva - DILI: The National Petroleum Authority (ANP) is committing a crime by spending the state's money on special treatment for its staff and their families, President of the Republic Jose Ramos-Horta said.

Since 2008, ANP has been spending up to $2000 a month on health treatment for its staff and their families at the Foho Osan Mean Farmacia in Dili, according to the clinic.

ANP's health treatment policy became public knowledge in Timor-Leste after the authority published advertisements in local newspapers seeking a private health clinic to provide treatment for its staff.

Dr Ramos-Horta said the policy must be stopped, and asked the National Parliament and the Anti-Corruption Commission (KAK) to investigate.

It was extremely dangerous when an autonomous entity started to tamper with government money for health treatment, he said.

"(It is) better if they consider (the policy) carefully. If not, every institution will start to spend money on items that are not planned for in the (general state) budget."

The general state budget allocated to the Ministry of Health was to address all health problems in Timor-Leste, he said.

"Do we have a general state budget or not? Do we have a Ministry of Health, a Ministry of Solidarity, or not?"

"KAK (Anti-Corruption Commission) will conduct an investigation, parliament will conduct an investigation. This is extremely dangerous and can become a big crime."

All institutions must create plans or programs through the general state budget, he said.

Meanwhile, Secretary of State for Natural Resources Alfredo Pires said ANP needed special health treatment for its staff because of the nature of the work.

Timorese technicians would leave for foreign companies that provided better conditions if the company did not look after them, he said.

"How will Timorese that have experience stay with the National Petroleum Authority? We might have a big problem if we don't succeed in keeping our experienced people to regulate our oil," he said.

He said he would always defend the program and his department had no plans to stop it.

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