Dili, June 23rd, 2020: His Excellency the Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, held, this Monday and Tuesday, at the Government Palace, a series of meetings with the ambassadors accredited in Timor-Leste, with the aim of giving them information about the current situation of the country, namely about the political situation, the situation of the COVID-19 outbreak and its socio-economic impact, the Government’s policy for the economic recovery post-COVID-19, as well as other issues related to bilateral cooperation.
On Monday, the Head of Government began these series of meetings with the Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, Sahat Sitorus, and then continued with the Portuguese Ambassador, José Pedro Machado Vieira, followed by the South Korean Ambassador, Lee Chim-bum and finally the United States Ambassador, Kathleen M. Fitzpatrick. On Tuesday, the Prime Minister held meetings with the Australian Ambassador, Peter Roberts, with the Malaysian Ambassador, Sarimah Akbar, with the Chinese Ambassador, Xiao Jiangou, with the New Zealand Ambassador, Philip Hewitt, among other accredited ambassadors in Timor-Leste.
In this round of meetings, the Chief Executive briefed the ambassadors on five issues.
Firstly, the political turbulence of the country, after the rejection of the 2020 General State Budget, in the National Parliament. Regarding this issue, the Head of Government assured that the Government, led by him, has regained the support of the Parliament majority, and continues to rely on the confidence of the President of the Republic. Thus, the current Government continues in office until the end of the mandate, in 2023.
Secondly, the Head of Government informed the ambassadors about the measures that the Government has implemented to contain the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. Timor-Leste has had 24 positive cases, which have all recovered, and has been without any new cases of COVID-19 for almost a month.
The third subject of these talks was the Government’s response to the socio-economic impact of COVID-19, in the short-term. In this context, the Government has distributed a direct subsidy, in cash, to households, is also analysing how it can support the businesses affected by COVID-19, provided support to Timorese non-scholarship students abroad, gave subsidies for electricity, etc.
The fourth issue was the Economic Recovery Plan, post-COVID-19. On this issue, the Chief Executive informed the ambassadors that he had nominated the Timorese economist Mr Rui Gomes, and four members, to prepare the Economic Recovery Plan in the medium term, in order to re-stabilize the economy of the country.
Finally, the fifth issue was bilateral cooperation. Referring to this point, the Head of Government asked the ambassadors to resume the existing bilateral cooperation programs, which may had been suspended during the COVID-19 epidemic.
The Governor also took the opportunity to thank the Ambassadors for the various supports, both financial and non-financial, provided during the period of the fight against COVID-19.
Meanwhile, the ambassadors expressed their satisfaction for the Head of Government’s initiative to invite them to inform about the general situation in Timor-Leste. The ambassadors also appreciated the political leadership of the Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, the way he managed this difficult period, and managed to overcome it composedly, even though the political tension in the country rose a little at this stage, but everything was resolved peacefully. As diplomats, the ambassadors do not interfere in internal affairs, but they are, nevertheless, concerned about the domestic political situation in the country.
Regarding the situation of COVID-19, the ambassadors congratulated the Government on its success in controlling the spread of the disease in Timor-Leste, where there are no deaths to report, or local transmission within the community, which made Timor-Leste one of the first countries in Southeast Asia free from the COVID-19 outbreak, together with Laos and Macau Region – China.
On the policy of economic recovery, the diplomats also expressed their appreciation for this plan, which they clearly support, and are ready to cooperate and to add their contribution, so that Timor-Leste can stabilize its economy, which is declining after the COVID-19 outbreak.
In terms of bilateral relations, the ambassadors supported the idea of the Head of Government to resume the bilateral cooperation activities which were suspended during the COVID-19 outbreak, while being vigilant to the evolution of the disease. The diplomats also pledged to continue to support the current Government and work within the framework of Government’s plans and programs. END/PMO