Speech of H.E. the Prime Minister of Republic Democratic of Timor-Leste, Taur Matan Ruak on the occasion virtual visit of the members of the ADB Board of Directors
Ministry of Finance, Monday, August 9th, 2021
Members of the Asian Development Bank Board of Directors
Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a privilege and a great honour for me to be able to open the first visit of the Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to our country.
A visit that, while virtual and being carried out for the first time in our Nation’s history and under exceptional circumstances, caused by the impacts of a prolonged Pandemic and the natural disasters that ravaged Timor-Leste, this virtual visit marks the beginning of a new period of hope and opportunities.
A moment that coincides with the internal transfer of our Country within the ADB, from the Pacific Region, where we have been part of since the Restoration of our Independence, to the Southeast Asia Regional Directorate.
This is a long-awaited transfer for our Government to renew the ADB member countries’ continued support for our bid to become a full Member State of the Association of southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
We are very grateful for all the support provided by your bank, so far.
Support in the form of donations and loans, as well as ongoing technical assistance, has always accompanied our development process over the past 19 years and which has manifested itself particularly at times of crisis or calamity, through humanitarian aid for the victims of natural disasters and global initiatives to assist the Member States in economic and social recovery.
With these solidary and generous gestures, ADB renews its vocation to help the Least Developed Countries (LDC), including Timor-Leste, to face and overcome the great development challenges.
Financial Challenges for the construction, rehabilitation, and maintenance of essential basic infrastructures and Human Capital Challenges in the training, qualification, and empowerment of our citizens and civil servants, providing technicians, experts, and specialists who assist us in the planning, certification, monitoring, evaluation of results and consideration of the quality of investments’ activities.
We are also very grateful that it has been your Bank’s policy to align this important support with our objectives and targets set by the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and with the guiding themes and targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG), which greatly contributes to the execution of the Government’s Programme and to the national effort for progress and modernity.
Ladies and Gentlemen
With the precious help of the ADB, we hope to be able to leverage the upturn and recovery process of our economy, recovering the growth rate felt before the start of the COVID-19 Pandemic.
A growth rate based on the commitment to four fundamental priorities:
- Infrastructure Development;
- Development of Social Capital
- Economic Development; and
- Institutional Strengthening and Consolidation.
Priorities that rely on the ADB Partnership, which has been our main and the most substantial source of international credit.
Precious loans and support that over the years have been more visible in the construction of infrastructure: roads, highways, or bridges, but which we now wish to extend to new and promising connectivity projects in the transport sector, in telecommunications, and in the expansion of Dili International Airport; and of essential basic services in electricity, investing in green energy, and in water and sanitation, especially in new sources of water supply and distribution.
Essential financial support to Strengthen the Private Sector and to promote Economic Diversification, which includes boosting innovation projects, creativity and entrepreneurship, and that in turn will generate employment and facilitate access to new products and services, in order to increase the quality and raise the standard of living of our citizens.
Offers and supports that, contributing to the improvement of the national production, which may also improve our competitiveness in international markets and, simultaneously, reducing our structural dependence on the imported products.
We would also like to expand the projects that, in recent years, have contributed to the enhancement of our agriculture and agroforestry management, extending further to the new areas such as fisheries, extractive, and manufacturing industry, and tourism, whereby taking advantage of the country’s potential, to foster community empowerment and contribute to an inclusive circular economy, with citizens increasingly prepared, active and organized in different sectors of the economy.
Investments that require a more effective and efficient State, more digital and less bureaucratic, more professional and competent civil servants, capable of following the ongoing institutional reforms in public administration, finance, taxation, justice, and security.
These are some of the changes that are necessarily required in order to strengthen the country’s capabilities in its ASEAN accession process and regional integration, thus fulfilling the commitments made to our citizens to eradicate hunger, poverty, and malnutrition, while creating the social welfare conditions in health, education and the environment, necessary for happier, healthier and more productive citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The presence of the ADB has been crucial in the materialization of our Government Programme and in the implementation of the great national design of creating new development of paradigm shifts.
With your help, it has been possible to create new routes linking the municipalities on the eastern end of the country with the more distant municipalities and regions on the border.
It was also possible to connect the municipalities further north, including the capital Dili, with the promising South Coast, where, under the Tasi Mane Project, we intend to take advantage of the Agreement signed with Australia for the Timor Sea, taking advantage as well of the exploration potential from the Greater Sunrise.
This is a promising land and region where we intend to build a Refinery and Oil Products Industry, in Viqueque, and with new energy projects, in Manufahi and a Logistics Platform, in Covalima.
Projects that are already in the investment phase with the ongoing construction of the highway that will link Suai and Viqueque, and aiming further to reconvert our heavy oil power plants into more environmentally friendly natural gas plants.
The new paradigm shifts of progress and modernity, which allow for more cohesive and orderly planning, are capable of reducing asymmetries, overcoming isolation, and contributing to the more inclusive and integrated development of the country.
With these new paradigm shifts in operation, new connectivities have been established, with your support and help, that will certainly contribute to a better business environment, capable of attracting new investments, new public, and private partnerships, in different municipalities and regions of the country.
We are strongly believed that the partnerships financed by ADB, over the years, have contributed to the international confidence of investors and development partners, who see in our People and Country, a promising society and economy, on the path to development.
We hope that this virtual visit may be successful in facilitating access to all relevant information so that Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen Members of the Board of Directors of the Asian Development Bank, may have a better understanding of the challenges that the country faces and will be facing in the coming years.
Challenges that we intend to face and overcome, with commitment, determination, and courage.
For this mission, we count on your support and on the support of the Member States, expressing our full availability to continue to work together, through our Governor, the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Governor, the Deputy Minister of Finance, and the National Technicians, Experts and Specialists, who benefited daily from your assistance and advice.
Thank you very much for your Visit!
May God bless us all!