Speech of H.E. the Prime Minister Taur Matan Ruak on the occasion of the Timor-Leste and Development Partners Meeting
Ministry of Finance, July 30th, 2021
Mr President of the Republic
Mr President of the National Parliament
Members of the National Parliament
Excellencies, Dear Colleagues,
Members of the 8th Constitutional Government
Members of the Diplomatic Corps accredited in Timor-Leste
Ladies and Gentlemen Representatives of Cooperation Agencies
Ladies and Gentlemen
People of Timor-Leste
Welcome to the Timor-Leste and Development Partners Meeting, organized by the Ministry of Finance, at a historic crossroads as we face together the unprecedented effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
These effects have been considerably aggravated by a succession of crises in our country, namely: budgetary, political and natural disasters that have revealed economic fragilities and structural difficulties, putting our resilience, our freedoms and the sustainability of our democracy to the test.
The current crisis scenario helps reinforce our National spirit and the determination of the Government to continue to Fight for the great national goals, whose potential has always been present in the behaviour and attitudes of the Timorese people, uniting Timor-Leste against poverty and in favour of social justice and equal opportunities, so as to fulfil the promises of a better life for an increasingly active, productive and participative citizenship, aware of their rights and duties in the strengthening of Democracy.
Throughout the twenty-four years of the struggle for independence, the Timorese have always shown their enormous capacity for adaptation, resilience and ability to overcome great challenges.
We will demonstrate again this capacity of the Timorese People, in this new cycle of hope, driven by the National Vaccination Plan against COVID-19, which allows us to face the future with an optimism full of opportunities, to deliver growth and create significant economic benefits for all.
A future also with challenges, which will require a great effort of reform and commitment to a more effective, more efficient, more coordinated, less bureaucratic and more digital Government, capable of stimulating economic diversification and attracting investment, encouraging national production and the creation of wealth in the country.
A future that cannot be won alone, but that depends on everyone’s participation: citizens, families, businesses, civil society organisations and the support of development partners.
A future that is being built every day, with new fundamental partnerships, provided by the different national and international, bilateral and multilateral cooperation agencies operating in Timor-Leste, that have contributed much to the consolidation of our Democratic Rule of Law and to the growth of our economy, by providing access to technicians, experts and specialists that are essential for the qualification and training of our human resources, in the different governmental areas and sectors of the economy.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to convey to all of you our deep gratitude and appreciation for the important role that Development Partners have played in the past seventeen months of the COVID-19 Pandemic and more recently in supporting the victims of the natural disasters that struck Timor-Leste.
This role has contributed substantially to strengthening our National Health System, supporting the improvement of the system of surveillance, prevention, control, management and combating COVID-19, which has resulted in the establishment of new laboratory, quarantine, isolation, distribution and storage services for vaccines and medicines, which today greatly help us to mitigate the effects of the spread of the virus.
A role that was extended to other areas of economic and social mitigation, for example in the consolidation of our Social Security System, making the distribution of subsidies and support simpler and more agile for the neediest families, workers, companies and economic operators in difficulty.
Support that, with the help of our development partners, has enabled major emblematic operations such as the Basic Food Basket or the National Vaccination Plan against COVID-19 to be put in place. In July this year, more than 260,000 beneficiaries received their first dose, covering about 35% of our national population.
Support that has certainly contributed to the current statistics with the continuous reduction, in the last two months, of new cases of infection, including the most severe cases.
Support that has helped us to resist the crises, to prepare resilience and to take advantage of the new cycle of hope that we are now experiencing, planning the measures for the upturn and economic recovery that are coming with the much-awaited return to normality!
Development Partnerships, which are increasingly dialogue-driven, which are not limited to projects, funding or investments, but which place “people” at the centre of their action and cooperation, in accordance with the priorities of the country and the population’ needs.
Partnerships that greatly contribute to consolidating our Sovereign, Free and Democratic Nation, and that promote a more cooperative, fair and equitable World.
Ladies and Gentlemen
We remain committed to the priorities and commitments made to the Country, in the Programme of the 8th Constitutional Government, which places citizens at the centre of political activity, namely the need to provide better education, health, electricity, water and sanitation, social security and vocational training services, capable of fostering the emergence of new creative and productive opportunities.
We remain committed to the major national goals developed in the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and to the targets and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), agreed upon with the International Community, to fight hunger, poverty and malnutrition, to promote equality and inclusion, to improve and expand the infrastructure that is essential for the connectivity of the country, and to continue to promote the essential reforms in public administration, justice, decentralisation and territorial planning, and taxes and tariffs, which are considered fundamental to boosting the country’s productivity and competitiveness.
We are also committed to economic diversification and to strengthening the private sector, which we want to become stronger and more capable of becoming the true engine of national development.
To this end, we are promoting a broad consultation to review the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) in order to re-orient economic transformation and adapt the different objectives, modelling them to the new realities of the country and the world.
A country that we hope to be more resilient to future crises, less dependent on imports, more productive with a variety of products, more creative and innovative.
A country is less dependent on oil revenues, capable of attracting investment and providing a good business environment, taking advantage of our potential in agriculture, fisheries, industry and tourism.
A more environmentally friendly country, more sensitive to the needs of gender, equality and tolerance, but also more committed to the duties of dedication, work, compromise and interdisciplinary or multi-sectoral teamwork.
A more effective and efficient country, in the implementation of projects, the achievement of goals and objectives, the judicious spending of resources, the need for transparency and accountability, with a true evaluation of results in the short, medium and long term.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is my hope that, with your help, we may be able to identify the drivers of economic development through entrepreneurial activity, in other words, the creation of new businesses that sustain our economy.
We hope that, by 2030, Timor-Leste may become an upper-middle-income country that is more modern, just, compassionate, tolerant and equitable, and we rely on the support of Development Partners to advise, consult and plan for future goals, priorities and needs.
We want to develop and implement an economic vision and a development model, centred on people and updated with the new digitalisation technologies, in order to transform the structural characteristics of our economy, taking advantage of our main resource: our people, especially the youth!
A vision supported by studies, research and international best practices, capable of taking advantage of international support for a good understanding of the problems, for the identification of risks or opportunities and for planning the most appropriate solutions.
The State Budget for 2022 is the first opportunity, in this more positive cycle of hope, to implement new models of action, capable of transforming the current situation into a true opportunity for the country’s recovery.
We want to allocate resources in a considered and intelligent way, avoiding unnecessary waste and duplication, maximising the existing resources and taking advantage of our potential.
For this, we need to recover one of the values that underpinned the armed struggle, in favour of the unity of efforts, the spirit of belonging and concerted teamwork.
We need to materialise new Partnerships, national and international, with public and private entities, capable of fostering, in each sector and area, the emergence of more active “Communities” in education, health, food, economy, production, defence and security, connectivity and State reforms.
We are relying on your support and help in this great endeavour.
Towards economic and social upturn and recovery
For a modern and prosperous Timor-Leste
For a Wealthier, Stronger and Safer Nation
May God bless us all!