AID/WATCH researchers Yoga Sofyar and Tim Anderson, found consistent concern amongst NGOs, church groups and administration officials, that the development assistance - generously and freely given by the international community - is being managed in a predetermined, secretive and authoritarian manner. The main responsible agency is the World Bank, supported by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the Asian Development Bank (ADB).
Successive World Bank teams have now argued that the “clean slate” of East Timor’s devastated economy presents an ideal opportunity for a ‘free market’ experiment. “ They have argued this consistently, as a ‘best practice’ notion, despite East Timorese opposition” said Mr. Anderson.
Mr. Sofyar and Mr. Anderson were informed that many East Timorese feel that the World Bank is not treating them with respect. Recently a group of East Timorese economists, retained by the World Bank to analyse the state of the country’s coffee industry, resigned en masse after their work was trivialised. They had been offered a couple of weeks and ten dollars a day each to complete a large study. At the same time, hundreds of thousands of dollars has been wasted on international consultants.
According to the main student body, IMPETU, a World Bank attempt at a youth consultation fared little better. The World Bank organised a forum, then were not seen again.
Mr Aderito de Jesus Soares, lawyer and Director of the Sahe Institute, said that East Timorese participation in World Bank projects had so far been “cosmetic”. AID/WATCH calls on The Bank to explain its presence in East Timor, and to apologise and compensate for its involvement in past projects such as the unpopular and coercive transmigration and birth controls schemes.
The Asian Development Bank has been put in charge of US$7.7m of Trust Fund moneys intended to establish microcredit for poor rural people (especially women). This project has been designed with interest rates between 40 and 80% pa, and plans to privatise the scheme as a profit making venture with international consultants receiving US$600,000.
Mr Demetrio Amaral de Carvalho, Director
of the Haburas Foundation, informed AID/WATCH that the World Bank appeared
to have “its own perspective” on what projects would be funded, and this
had a lot to do with profit making concerns. Many community proposals have
been ignored. The relief and peacekeeping efforts have been good, but the
current process is not “nation building”.
The World Bank has blocked proposals by East Timorese administrators and UNTAET for facilities such as a public grain silo and public abattoirs, insisting that all potential revenue-generating projects must be privatised. The World Bank has termed such calls attempts at “command and control activities” - an inappropriate reference to Soviet styled totalitarianism.
Minister for Economics in the Transitional Administration, Mr Mari Alkatiri, told AID/WATCH that his cabinet was “resisting” pressure from the World Bank to not use trust funds for public economic facilities.
There is also serious concern at the “dual economy” that has evolved, with UN staff paid 30 and 40 times more than local people, regardless of skills. A number of restaurants, for example, are notable for the absence of East Timorese customers. Yet UNTAET will soon be gone, but the World Bank will remain.
AID/WATCH would like to see the Australian Government play an active role in helping engage the East Timorese community in the development of their country. A sustained effort is needed to help this new neighbour nation find its feet, and express its own character and voice. The paternalism must end.
AID/WATCH recommends that:
* The Australian Government, in all available fora, insist that East Timorese representatives have the final say on the deployment of the donated Trust Fund moneys.
* In view of East Timor’s poor communications (the phone system was destroyed by the retreating Indonesian army and militia) the Australian Government arrange that Telstra offer to the East Timor Transitional Administration an affordable telephone and internet system, cross-subsidised by Telstra’s other profitable concerns.
* The Australian Government make public the details of its negotiations with East Timor over the Timor Gap Treaty, so that the Australian public can assure themselves the East Timorese are getting a fair deal from the Australian Government and the oil companies
* The Australian Government expand its efforts in education and training support (especially teacher training and medical training) to more than cover the gap left by Indonesia
BD: TIMOR OIL - A collection of recent reports, position statements, petitions, articles and news
26 CAA-OA: Asian Development Bank and Australia's role in the Mekong region
Launch added Mar 10
"The book 'Breaking the Banks', launched February 26, 2001, provides useful insights into the Asian Development Bank. Although the focus is on the Mekong region, this review has been included in BACK DOOR so that comparisons can be made with the Asian Development Bank's involvement in East Timor." BD
2000 LHB: Democracy and the World Bank in East Timor Editorial
& link to Analysis updated Feb 26
"Experience shows that concerted public pressure can influence how the [World] Bank works. East Timor has a vibrant NGO sector, a political elite that is relatively responsive to grassroots constituencies, and a strong international solidarity movement. Working together, they can help ensure that the World Bank serves the East Timorese people’s needs, rather than vice-versa." The La'o Hamutuk Bulletin
22 2000 ETO: Reconstructing suitable sustainable infrastructures
Report added Dec 30
"The large influx of foreigners with different standards of comfort and greater financial capacity has meant that satisfying their needs has become a priority area: they took over the less damaged buildings and houses, and were given priority in reconstruction and supply of materials. Meanwhile, a year after the UN's arrival, the vast majority of Timorese, especially those in Dili, are still living amidst the ruins." East Timor Observatory
Dec 22 2000 OTL: Reconstruir infra-estruturas adaptadas e sustentáveis Report added Apr 4
"a chegada dum grande número de estrangeiros com necessidades de conforto e capacidades financeiras superiores levou à satisfação prioritária deste sector, ocupando edifícios e casas menos destruídas ou dando-lhe primazia na reconstrução e fornecimento de bens. Mais de um ano depois da chegada das NU, a imensa maioria dos timorenses, sobretudo em Dili, vive em ruínas." Observatório Timor Leste
30 2000 ETO: Employment & unemployment one year after int'l intervention
Report updated Mar 29
"Unemployment - still at around 80% - continues to be a major concern, especially in East Timor's cities. The situation has become highly sensitive in Dili, where society is clearly two-tier, divided by very different ways and standards of living. ... The qualifications of job applicants, especially those of applicants to the civil service, ought to be adjusted to match the local reality, rather than have to adhere to an imported, out of touch framework. In this respect, ever since UNTAET'S arrival, English language skills have become a priority requirement for the UN administration - not for East Timor." East Timor Observatory
Nov 30 2000 OTL: Emprego e desemprego após um ano de intervenção internacional Report added Mar 29
"A taxa de desemprego continua a ser preocupante, sobretudo nas cidades, por ainda se manter nos 80%. A situação é particularmente sensível em Díli, onde coexistem duas sociedades com modos e níveis de vida muito distintos. ... As qualificações dos candidatos aos empregos, em particular para a função pública, devem ser ajuizadas em função das realidades locais e não no âmbito de um quadro importado, estranho a essas realidades. É neste sentido que, desde a chegada da UNTAET, o conhecimento da língua inglesa se apresenta como uma qualificação prioritária para a administração das N.U., mas não para Timor Leste." Observatório Timor Leste
6 2000 ETO: Transition, half way to independence Report
updated Feb 20
"Security Council (SC) Resolution 1272 of 25 October 1999 mandated UNTAET [UN Transitional Administration for East Timor] "to support capacity-building for self-government", and insisted on the "need for UNTAET to consult and cooperate closely with the East Timorese people in order to carry out its mandate effectively with a view to the development of local democratic institutions… and the transfer to these institutions of its administrative and public service functions" ETO - East Timor Observatory
Nov 6 2000 OTL: Transição, a meio caminho para a independência Report added Feb 20
"Xanana Gusmão acusou a missão das NU de ter falhado no envolvimento dos timorenses no processo transitório para a independência. “Não estamos interessados numa herança de carros e leis, nem estamos interessados numa herança de planos de desenvolvimento para um futuro concebido por outros que não os timorenses. Não estamos interessados em herdar uma racionalidade económica que coloca de lado a complexidade social e política da realidade timorense, nem desejamos herdar os pesados mecanismos de tomada de decisão e implementação de projectos nos quais o papel dos timorenses é o de dar o seu consentimento como observadores ao invés de agentes activos que deveríamos começar a ser.” (Sidney Morning Herald, 10-10-2000)." OTL - Observatório Timor Leste
2000 AW: Timor Watch: Analysis of development proposals of international
agencies Project proposal
"The aim of this project is to ensure that the East-Timorese people determine their own future. In contrast, it is becoming increasingly evident that the development banks, and other development agencies are dictating the terms of reconstruction. We have been monitoring the reconstruction process with great concern." AID/WATCH
Aug 2000 AW: The Rebuilding of ETimor and Bougainville Newsletter http://www.aidwatch.org.au/news/20/index.htm