Bellow is full speech of East Timor Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak during presentation State budget to National Parliament.
I have the honour, on behalf of the VIII Constitutional Government, to present to the National Parliament, the Major Chamber of the Democratic Representation of our People, the draft law that approves the State General Budget and the Social Security Budget for the current year 2020.
On this occasion, I would like to acknowledged and thank the efforts that have been made by all public administration leaders and officials, as well as by Your Excellencies Members of the Government and by the Honourable Members of the National Parliament, in order to prepare and enable the discussion of this draft law, that begins today, and whose approval is absolutely crucial for the proper functioning of our Public Administration and for the growth of our national economy.
As national policy makers, we know well and we cannot ignore the dire consequences that prolonged period of duodecimal budget execution had on our economy, and which desirably should not be repeated again.
It was aware of the urgent need to provide the State with a Budget capable in responding to the demands of our society and our economy, and in fully respect of the constitutional powers of the National Parliament, that the Government withdrew the draft budget law presented on last October, replacing it with the one that is today submitted for discussion.
The decision to withdraw the previous draft budget law for 2020, and to recast it, in accordance with the recommendations approved by the various parliamentary committees, was not taken lightly, and was nevertheless concerned to ensure the preservation of political stability and the approval of a State General Budget for 2020, commitments made by the majority of elected Deputies to this legislature in 2018 and by the members of the VIII Constitutional Government in the elections held in 2018.
It was due to the obligation to respect the commitments made to our People that the Government withdrew its draft budget law and presented a new law proposal, able to address the concerns of the National Parliament and to respond positively to their recommendations.
In an increasingly unstable and uncertain international context, concerns about political stability and the creation of national conditions for an environment conducive to economic growth and social welfare are of even greater importance.
Despite the criticisms and repairs that have been made by many of the Parliament members to the Government, and which I consider legitimate in the context of a frank and democratic political debate, I can only express my satisfaction and pride at many of the Government's achievements during the fiscal year ended recently.
In fact, and despite the limitations arising from the fact that the VIII Constitutional Government has not yet been fully appointed and sworn in by the President of the Republic, a political situation unparalleled in any previous moment of our history, a situation that causes serious constraints on government action, there are signs of recovery and acceleration of the economic growth, namely through the realization of non-oil real GDP growth estimated at around 4% (four per cent) in 2019 and about 6% (six per cent) for the current year 2020.
These results are not of minor importance if we bear in mind that in 2017 and 2018 the non-oil real GDP was, respectively, -3.8% (minus three point eight per cent) and - 0.8% (minus zero-point eight percent).
The growth of the Non-oil real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) in 2019 was thus the biggest one registered since the year 2014, when it reached 4.5% (four-point five percent), that is, was the highest in the last nearly five years.
To this registered increase, the growth of public and private consumption has greatly contributed to, and it is estimated that in 2019, the first one represents about US $ 971 million (nine hundred and seventy-one million) dollars and the second one represents about US $ 1,054 million (one billion and fifty-four million) dollars.
Compared to previous years, it is noted that the estimated values of public and private consumption, estimated for the end of 2019, were the highest recorded since 2016 and represents, in relation to the year 2018, a growth of about US $ 124 million. (one hundred and twenty-four million) dollars.
Investment also contributed positively to the growth of our real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), and it is estimated that in 2019 it represents around US $ 544 million (five hundred and forty-four million dollars), of which US $147 million (One hundred and forty-seven million dollars) refers to private investment and $ 397 million (three hundred and ninety-seven million dollars) to public investment.
The total amount of investment estimated to have taken place over the past year of 2019 is similar to that recorded in 2017, far from the US $ 653 million (six hundred and fifty-three million) dollars invested during 2016. However, and this detail is not irrelevant, public investment in 2016 amounted to $ 527 million (five hundred and twenty seven million) dollars, representing about 80.7% (eighty point seven percent) of the total investment, and private investment stood at US $ 126 million (one hundred and twenty-six million) dollars, representing no more than about 19.3% (nineteen point three percent) of the total amount of investment.
However, during the last year, private investment grew by about $21 million (twenty-one million) compared to 2016, representing around 27% (twenty-seven per cent) of the total investment made in our economy. Moreover, it should be noted that, while in 2016 private investment growth accounted for about $20 million (twenty million), compared to 2018 estimated private investment growth at approximately $77 million (seventy-seven million dollars).
In addition to contributing positively to the growth of our real Gross Domestic Product (GDP), the positive evolution in private consumption and private investment reflects the confidence that households and businesses have in our economy and its continuous economic growth.
Despite the positive signs and results, to which I have had the opportunity to refer, the Government is aware of the need to take measures to boost our export sector, ensuring its increasing preponderance in our real GDPs’ growth.
Despite the positive results that have been achieved in the area of private investment, the Government is aware that the State remains the main driver of economic growth and development, and that is responsible for ensuring access to justice, social inclusion, peace and tolerance, protection of the most vulnerable social groups, equal opportunities and gender equality.
By being absolutely determined to honour the political and constitutional obligations of the State, the Government intends to continue the execution of the Strategic Development Plan SDP 2011-2030 and the 2030 Roadmap for the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), for this purpose, mobilizing, the most dynamic sectors of our society, as well as the fulfilment of the goals set by the Government in its Program for the current legislature, in order to achieve the development and well-being of the people.
The Government is aware that the implementation of the strategies provided in these documents and the achievement of the objectives set forth in them, depends, largely, on the political will of the sovereign bodies. However, the Government also believes that the success of this implementation will depends on the mobilization of our citizens, our local communities and our business sector.
Building an increasingly prosperous, just and perfect country depends on our ability to be deeply involved in the ongoing national development process, but also on our ability to engage each and every one of our citizens in that process, ensuring that no Timorese is left behind, in the access to the benefits provided by the development of our beloved Homeland, but also that none is excluded from the responsibility to help build the present and future of our Republic.
Only with the efforts of all and only with the sharing of results for all, can we aspire to build a richer, prosperous, cohesive and fraternal country, able to value its most important potential available, namely its citizens.
It is therefore urgent that we continue to focus on enhancing the human potential of our People by enhancing their literacy levels and increasing their professional skills, thereby improving their opportunity to earn decent jobs.
It is also imperative to boost the private and cooperative sectors, especially their investment and wealth creation capacities, namely through easier access to credit, making their dynamics progressively less dependent on public spending and increasing their capacity to create more and better jobs, especially for Timorese younger generations, who are still struggling with the still very serious scourge of unemployment, regardless of more qualified and competent they are.
Action must be taken to strengthen the cohesion of our territory, blurring the existing asymmetries between rural and urban areas and between the city of Dili and the other municipalities of our Country, ensuring access for all citizens to the benefits of economic growth and development, regardless of where they live with their families and creating the conditions for them, through their work or business, to contribute to the country’s wealth growth.
It is urgent to reinforce the means of support and social protection for the most socially vulnerable groups, in order to guarantee and promote the dignity of all Timorese who, due to any misfortune of physical, cognitive or advanced age, cannot provide livelihood for themselves under minimally satisfactory conditions.
The Government is deeply convinced that our People demands a determined intervention on their part which, supported by a realistic budget, will allow them to take actions capable of meeting those unavoidable goals and, similarly, respond to the problems that are being experienced by the citizens, like access to water and sanitation, better roads, better healthcare facilities and better educational and pre-school establishments, as well as access to greater and better employment or business opportunities.
In this regard, and in order to reconcile the need to respond to the most pressing needs of our People with the need to ensure respect for the recommendations made by the various parliamentary committees on the 2020 budget proposal, the Government has presented for discussion and approval by Parliament National, a proposal for a State General Budget for 2020 with an estimated expenditure of US$ 1,668 million (one billion, six hundred and sixty-eight million) dollar and estimated revenue of US$ 1,765 million (one billion, seven hundred and sixty-five million) dollars.
In relation to the expenditure budget, the Government proposes to the National Parliament that of the US$ 1.668 millions (one billion six hundred and sixty-eight million) dollars: US$ 235.6 millions (two hundred thirty five millions and six hundred thousand) dollars are allocated in the category of “Salaries and Wages”; US$ 582.3 millions (five hundred eighty two millions, and three hundred thousand) dollars are allocated to the “Goods and Services” category; US$ 329.7 millions (three hundred twenty-nine millions, and seven hundred thousand) dollars are allocated to the category of “Public Transfers”; US$ 31.5 millions (thirty one million five hundred thousand) dollars are allocated to the “Minor Capital” category; and US$ 488.8 millions (four hundred eighty-eight millions, and eight hundred thousand) dollars are allocated to the “Development Capital” category.
Regarding to the revenue budget, the Government intends to obtain authorization from the National Parliament to transfer the amount of US$ 996.5 million (nine hundred and ninety-six million, and five hundred thousand) dollars from the Petroleum Fund to the State Budget, of which US$ 536.8 millions (five hundred and thirty six million, and eight hundred thousand) dollars does not exceed the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI) for that Fund and US$ 459.7 millions (four hundred and fifty-nine millions, and seven hundred thousand) dollars will be transferred already above the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI).
However, I would like to point out that the amount of the transfer of the Petroleum Fund above the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI) is less than the amount of expenditure categorized as “Development Capital”, which is related to sustainable investments, able to meet the needs not only of the current generation of East Timorese, but also for the future generations, as well as the country’s needs for the economic dynamization and diversification on the medium and long term.
Still concerning to the revenue budget, the Government estimates to raise US$ 433,9 millions (four hundred and thirty-three million and nine hundred thousand) dollars in none-oil revenue; US$ 7,5 millions (seven million and five hundred thousand) dollars in donations; and US$ 73 millions (seventy-three million) dollars as a result of loans.
Finally, and bearing in mind the degree of implementation of the last State General Budget, which reached 88.2% (eighty-eight-point two percent), the Government expects that the balance of the US$ 254,3 millions (two hundred fifty-four million, and three hundred thousand) dollars, will be transferred to the new budget.
The budget proposal that is the subject of the debate that is starting today was based on the document presented to the National Parliament on October 15th, 2019, adjusted according to the recommendations that were generically formulated by the various parliamentary committees on the same document, over the months of October and November.
As I had previously mentioned before this chamber, governing is a complex and demanding exercise in itself, which obliges public officials to take decisions, namely decisions related to the use of public funds, which if cannot please all, should always seek to serve the public interest or the general interest of our National Community.
It was faithful to this understanding, and in pursuing the goals and objectives that was outlined in its Program for the current legislature, that the Government established for the current fiscal year a set of five priorities or strategic axes of action, guiding the decision to allocate resources for Public investments, namely: (1) social capital – social well-being, social protection and citizenship; (2) economic development - investment of the country’s economy and public finances; (3) improvement of national connectivity; (4) consolidating and strengthening of justice, democracy and human rights. (5) consolidation and strengthening of justice, democracy and human rights.
Among the budgetary measures that the Government proposes to the National Parliament for the current fiscal year, regarding social capital – social well-being, social protection and citizenship, I have the honour to highlight the allocation of:
- US$ 4,9 millions (four million nine hundred thousand) dollars to purchase medicines to improve the quality of health services provided in the country;
- US$ 91,4 millions (ninety-one million four hundred thousand) dollars for pension payments and housing construction for veterans;
- US$ 41,3 millions (forty-one million three hundred thousand) dollars to cover the State’s responsibilities under the contributory and non-contributory regime;
- US$ 15,2 millions (fifteen million two hundred thousand) dollars for the provision of pension to the permanent civil servants under the contributory regime;
- US$ 4,3 millions (four million three hundred thousand) dollars to support various sporting events and youth activities throughout the year;
- US$ 800,000 (eight hundred thousand) dollars for grants to private schools and C.A.F.E. schools;
- US$ 500,000 (five hundred thousand) dollars for employment programs;
- US$ 3,2 million (three million two hundred thousand) dollars to the purchase of desks, chairs and computers for schools;
- US$ 1,7 millions (one million seven hundred thousand) dollars for the purchase of ambulances, multipurpose vehicles for monitoring and evaluation actions;
- US$ 61 millions (sixty-one million) dollars, for the construction of the health centres and clinics.
Among the budgetary measures that the Government proposes to the National Parliament for the current fiscal year, regarding economic development - investment of the economy and public finances of the country, I would like to highlight the allocation of:
- US$ 166,4 millions (one hundred and sixty-six million, four hundred thousand) dollars to pay for fuel and maintenance of electric generators in Hera and Betano, including maintenance of electrical transmission towers and substations in seven key locations;
- US$ 2,1 millions (two million one hundred thousand) dollars for the Timor-Leste’s participation in the Dubai Expo;
- US$ 1 million (one million) dollars for the international events of the Portuguese Speaking Countries Community (CPLP) and the twelfth edition of the CPLP Sports Games, to be held in 2020 in Timor-Leste;
- US$ 63,8 millions (sixty-three million, and eight hundred thousand) dollars to invest in the development of Timor Gap;
- US$ 22,6 millions (twenty-two million, six hundred thousand) dollars to support the National Petroleum and Mineral Authority (ANPM), Timor Gap and Institute of Petroleum and Geology (IPG) so as to ensure that Timor-Leste benefits the most from its natural resources;
- US$ 4,0 millions (four million) dollars to recapitalize the Central Bank of Timor-Leste (BCTL) and pay for its service fees;
- US$ 1 million (one million) dollars for the recapitalization of the Timor-Leste National Bank of Commerce;
- US$ 1 million (one million) dollars to subsidize cooperative groups;
- US$ 250,000 (two hundred and fifty thousand) dollars intended to provide capital to rural women to promote female entrepreneurship;
- US$ 4,0 millions (four million) dollars for the purchase of computer equipment for a back-up data centre, X-Ray equipment and metal detectors;
- US$ 3,4 millions (three million four hundred thousand) dollars for the purchase of heavy vehicles;
- US$ 238,3 millions (two hundred and thirty-eight million and three hundred thousand) dollars for the Infrastructure Fund, namely for the construction of an excellence training centre.
Among the fiscal measures that the Government proposes to the National Parliament for the current fiscal year, in terms of improving national connectivity, I have the honour to highlight the allocation of:
- US$ 31.1 millions (thirty-one million one hundred thousand) dollars for the counterpart fund, including expenses with the purchase of ships to patrol the maritime borders and the purchase of the Nakroma II ferry;
- US$ 3.0 millions (three million) dollars for new provisions for civil aviation.
Among the fiscal measures that the Government proposes to the National Parliament for the current fiscal year, regarding the consolidation and strengthening of defence, security and external relations, I would like to highlight the allocation of:
- US$ 2.8 millions (two million eight hundred thousand) dollars for the payment of quotas in international institutions;
- US$ 1.5 millions (one million five hundred thousand) dollars for the g7 + secretariat;
- US$ 800,000 (eight hundred thousand) dollars for international financial support;
- US$ 1.8 millions (one million eight hundred thousand) dollars for the purchase of protective and communications equipment for the Ministry of Defence;
- US$ 800,000 (eight hundred thousand) dollars for the purchase of protective equipment for the Timor-Leste National Police;
- US$ 900,000 (nine hundred thousand) dollars for the recruitment of 600 (six hundred) new members for the East Timor Defence Forces (F-FDTL).
Finally, among the fiscal measures that the Government proposes to the National Parliament for the current fiscal year, regarding the consolidation and strengthening of justice, democracy and human rights, I have the honour to highlight the allocation of:
- US$ 6.0 millions (six million) dollars to subsidize political parties and thus continue to strengthen the democratic process in East Timor.
- US$ 4.0 millions (four million) dollars for the construction of Becora and Aimutin Churches, as well as Protestant temples, as well as to support Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs);
- US$ 1.7 millions (one million seven hundred thousand) dollars to subsidise Radio and television of Timor-Leste (RTTL) and Tatoli – Timor-Leste News Agency.
I would also like to take this opportunity to call on the support of the National Parliament for the fiscal measures proposed by the Government to deepen the process of administrative decentralization, which include the allocation of:
- US$ 3.0 millions (three million) dollars to fill the vacancies in the staff maps of the Municipal Authorities and the Municipal Administrations;
- US$ 9.4 millions (nine million four hundred thousand) dollars for the financing of multiple projects promoted by Municipal Authorities and Municipal Administrations, namely within the scope of Municipal Integrated Development Planning (PDIM/MIDP).
The Government remains faithful to its political and constitutional commitment to implement administrative decentralization, and for this purpose, it has set a timetable that calls for, during this year, to start a process of assessing the existence of minimum conditions for the establishment of municipal authorities.
The fiscal measures I have just briefly highlighted reflect well the Government's effort to develop a budget proposal for the current fiscal year, which is able to establish the necessary balance and compromise between meeting the program objectives we set ourselves and, at the same time, beware of Parliament's concerns about the sustainability of the oil fund and the quality of public spending.
Naturally, the Government would like to have more financial resources to have a greater capacity to act in order to promote the welfare and quality of life of the Timorese families, as well as to boost our national productive sector. However, aware of the importance of providing the State, as quickly as possible, with a budget that ensures its normal financial activity, the Government presents a more conservative budget proposal, convinced that it will thus respond to the most immediate needs of our country’s economic and social sectors and will meet the necessary conditions for its parliamentary viability and presidential promulgation.
As usual, the document which I have the honour to present to you today is a document which can be improved and refined, which can only be achieved as a result of a fruitful dialogue between the Members of my Government and all the Honourable Members of National Parliament, taking place over the next few days.
I strongly believe that, together, the Government and National Parliament will be able to debate and find solutions that offer concrete answers to the real problems of our citizens, boost our economy and consolidate our democracy.
As in the past, only by uniting and mobilizing all Timorese will it be possible to overcome the challenge of development and leave to future generations a prosperous, just and caring homeland for all Timorense.
For an increasingly modern, developed and prosperous Timor-Leste!
May God bless us all!
Taur Matan Ruak
East Timor Prime Minister