Delays in maritime boundary ratification costing Timor-Leste $5 million USD a month Featured

East Timor Chief Negotiator for Maritime border talking to Parliament last week East Timor Chief Negotiator for Maritime border talking to Parliament last week Photo Tempo Timor

Oki, Isac & Sally Rummery 

Tempotimor (Dili) - The slow process of ratification of Timor-Leste and Australia’s shared maritime boundary is costing the Timorese government an estimated $5 million USD a month according to former president, Xanana Gusmão. 

Xanana Gusmão spoke with parliamentarians in Dili last week on the issue of the amendment petroleum activity laws include the delay of the ratification. 

“The ratification process has been dragged out for too long. We are losing $5 million in revenue every month.” 

He explained that following the ratification of the maritime boundary agreement, all contracts for petroleum activities in the Timor Sea would belong to Timor-Leste. 

The struggle for sovereignty over the maritime territory has been an ongoing battle for Timor-Leste with the Australian government only entertaining discussions following a court ordered ‘compulsory conciliation’ in 2016.

Australian Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, has promised that he will be in Timor-Leste on the 30th August 2019, to share in the 20th anniversary celebrations of the referendum which led to Timor’s independence.

Mr Morrison has agreed to ratify the Treaty on behalf of the Australian Government during his visit. 

Meanwhile, opposition party FRETILIN, announced in a press conference last week that they will vote against all legislations to make changes to the law relating to the current Maritime Boundary Treaty. 

The changes proposed by the Eighth Constitutional Government would allow Timor-Leste to collect taxes from oil exploration activity in its waters, effectively increasing tax revenue for the country.

FRETILIN spokesperson, Aniceto Guterres Lopes says his party see the proposals as bringing Timor-Leste under the auspices of a dictatorial power and eliminating respect for the constitution and Timor-Leste’s laws. 

“The proposals amend the laws to implement the wishes of one person, Xanana Gusmão. We will not bow to his will”. 

The proposed changes have been submitted to the National Parliament following review by The Council of Ministers in early July this year.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 23 July 2019 22:11
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