Friday, November 20, 2009

Timor Parliament Debates the Budget

A committee of Timor-Leste's parliament has rejected the Government's proposed budget, offering detailed criticisms and recommendations.

La'o Hamutuk has posted the complete Portuguese version of the Report of Parliamentary Committee C (Economics, Finance and Anti-Corruption) on the proposed RDTL General State Budget for 2010.

An unofficial English translation of the Recommendations section of the report, including recommendations from all the Parliamentary Standing Committees is here.

The opposition Fretilin party applauds the report, passed with no opposition, but says it doesn't go far enough.
All members of the committee voted in favour of the report, except for the three FRETILIN committee members and the National Unity Party MP and leader, Fernanda Borges, who abstained because the report did not go far enough in condemning the illegality of the so called "referendum package."
La'o Hamutuk collects documents and other information, including its own submission to Parliament, related to the proposed 2010 budget here.

The 20 recommendations of the Commission C in english are here.

UPDATE  - The Government responds here. The Fretilin Bancada blog is here

Juvinal Dias and Charles Scheiner present La'o Hamutuk's testimony to
President Manuel Tilman and other members of Parliament's Committee C.

Monday, November 16, 2009

APEC and Singapore’s Sex Tour Hydrofoil

comment by Jeff Ballinger

APEC and Singapore’s Sex Tour Hydrofoil

How nice for hyper-disciplined Singapore that it has an island bawdy house only half an hour away! Human rights activists have complained about child sex slavery on Batam for over a decade, but it is extremely unlikely that any of the hoard of journalists following President Obama would dig into the story; human rights just isn’t on the APEC Summit agenda, never has been.

But, hold on, there’s actually a trade-related story in Batam and it involves the uber-hot electronics industry. Here’s some U.S. House testimony from the Environmental Investigation Agency back in 2003:

“The Integrated Sourcing Initiative (ISI) of the US-Singapore Free Trade Agreement allows another country to benefit from what should be a bilateral agreement. In the case of the US-S FTA, some 100 items of information technology products produced on the Indonesian islands of Batam and Bintam [sic] will be allowed to benefit from the provisions of the FTA. Products produced on these Indonesian islands will be considered as originating in Singapore."
“This comes at a time when customs enforcement capacity is overwhelmed by smugglers obfuscating the origin of their products... Singapore distinguishes itself regionally by refusing to release data that may point to the questionable trading practices of Singaporean companies. Singapore recently drew the ire of Indonesia when it refused to fully release trade statistics between the two nations... Analysts in the Indonesian press have said that the Singaporean government is purposely keeping the real trade data a secret to protect “certain vested interest groups” that have continued contraband trade with the country, including Indonesian military figures.”
Many had hoed that the Obama presidency would usher in practices like a human rights think-through, every time the U.S. leader would go on a foreign trip. Realistically, of course, this would not mean a press briefing at the hydrofoil’s quay. But, come on, passing on some info to a couple of journalists looking for a social justice or corruption angle seems like a no-brainer.

Timor rice and maize prices increase significantly

full report here

From World Food Programme

Trends in staple food prices in selected Vulnerable countries

- Issue No 5, October 2009 -

Asia: Rice and wheat prices have either remained stable or declined during the last quarter, except in Timor Leste where the price of rice and maize has increased significantly. Rice and maize make up 60% of caloric intake for households in Timor Leste. In general, prices remain significantly high in comparison to the long term averages.
According to the charts in the report the price of rice has gone up 20% from last quarter and maize, 16%.