Dili: Sunday, March 1, 2009
Gusmao govt claims 'confidentiality' to avoid corruption investigation
"FRETILIN MPs and MPs from other parties were stunned and appalled when the de facto Deputy Prime Minister, Jose Luis Guterres, claimed in parliament on Thursday 20th February, that some government contracts are 'confidential', and so details and copies will not be disclosed to parliament", said FRETILIN's parliamentary leader , Aniceto Guterres to journalists in Dili today.
The de facto Deputy PM said that the government could not allow parliament or MPs access to the contracts because "as we all know contracts have clauses in them which state that the agreement are confidential to the parties", and that excluded the parliament and or MPs.
He made the statement during a heated public hearing by the Parliament's Committees A and C, who are holding public consultations on the draft Anti-Corruption Law.
"We can legislate all we like to fight corruption, but the Deputy PM's statement confirms that there is a huge gap between Gusmao's rhetoric and the reality of his governance. He has no serious commitment to fighting corruption. Despite all the hype of reform and fighting corruption, he prefers to govern without being held accountable and without being in the least bit transparent with regard to government contracts.
"We simply ask the following - if his government can sign agreements with 'confidentiality' clauses that he uses to justify withholding disclosure to parliament, what hope will any anti-corruption committee or watchdog have?
None, that's what," said Aniceto Guterres.
FRETILIN has proposed a new law to give parliament legal powers and appropriate procedures to undertake extensive public inquiries of an investigative nature into cases involving allegations of official corruption, collusion and nepotism.
"But we also want the functions of the existing anti-corruption watchdog, the Ombudsman for Human Rights and Justice, to be strengthened, including granting it the powers that have been proposed for the Anti-Corruption Commission. We think the Ombudsman's office has developed capacity and experience that will be lost, and we should reinforce it instead of creating a new institution which will struggle to get up and running now," said Guterres.
"The Gusmao Government has an unimpressive track record in failing to have allegations properly investigated and for not cooperating with the Ombudsman.
This window-dressing exercise of legislating to establish an anti-corruption commission will do nothing to advance the fight against corruption in our country. Gusmao has no political will to make it happen, so we fear it will not happen in reality under this government," said Guterres.
Guterres listed the formal requests that FRETILIN and other parties have made for details of and copies of government contracts, but for which no response has been forthcoming despite months passing. They include:
1. Documents regarding the purchase of Luxury 4 Wheel drive for MPs, which has been opposed by FRETILIN and the National Unity Party;
2. Contracts for international and national advisors employed by the Ministry of Finance, including those of political appointees;
3. Documents for the contract awarded by the government for the acquisition and installation of a second-hand heavy fuel oil power station;
4. Contract for the acquisition of two navy patrol boats from a Chinese company, which was awarded without a tender;
5. Documents relating to the acquisition and importation of US$48 million worth of rice for food security;
6. Agreements and / or MOUs signed by the government with energy companies to grant marketing and / or other rights relating to petroleum from the Greater Sunrise field and the development of that field.
"It is as if the contracts involve dealings of a private nature, involving their own private money, which of course they do not. This in effect, prevents our people, through us as their elected representatives, having access to documents and details regarding transactions involving the people's money, and thereby preventing the parliament from exercising effective oversight of public finances.
"This is both illegal and unconstitutional in our view. On public finances, the government is constitutionally and legally accountable to the national parliament.
Gusmao has thwarted that role of parliament", said Guterres.
FRETILIN has requested numerous investigations by the Ombudsman, that resulted in recommendations made to the government for action, but there has been no follow up.
One such case is the MOU signed by the Minister for Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries on the 15th of January 2008, granting 100,000 hectares to an Indonesian Company, and over which there was substantial public controversy reported in the national and international media.
"Back on October 23 last year, the Ombudsman found that the Minister had not followed the law, especially the Investment Law, and recommended that the agreement be terminated and the company notified. There was a finding of 'maladministration', which is serious," said Guterres.
"Had such a finding been made against a civil servant of conduct of similar severity, that civil servant could well be dismissed. Yet to date there has been nothing forthcoming from the government as to what action has been taken. But this is the way this government does things," added Guterres.
"We were lucky to have had unofficial access to that particular MOU and other documents from non-government sources, such as the one regarding the de facto PM's award of a US$14.7 million rice importation contract to his 'mate', Mr Germano da Silva. It might have been branded 'confidential' too had we asked for it formally. Then we would not have been able to know the details to have it investigated, as it is right now being investigated by the Ombudsman. What will Gusmao do if the Ombudsman finds some fault with his actions? Will he act in accordance with his own rehtoric and resign," asked Guterres.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, CONTACT JOSE TEIXEIRA M.P.: +670 728 7080
terça-feira, março 03, 2009
Por Malai Azul 2 à(s) 00:39
Obrigado pela solidariedade, Margarida!
Mensagem inicial - 16 de Maio de 2006
"Apesar de frágil, Timor-Leste é uma jovem democracia em que acreditamos. É o país que escolhemos para viver e trabalhar. Desde dia 28 de Abril muito se tem dito sobre a situação em Timor-Leste. Boatos, rumores, alertas, declarações de países estrangeiros, inocentes ou não, têm servido para transmitir um clima de conflito e insegurança que não corresponde ao que vivemos. Vamos tentar transmitir o que se passa aqui. Não o que ouvimos dizer... "