BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home April news

"Two AID/WATCH volunteers returned from East Timor yesterday and observed that, while East Timorese society has been heartened by the stability and security restored by the Peace Keeping Forces, and by the good relief work supported by the international community, it is distressed and confused by the emerging role of the World Bank.
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). ...
Mr. Sofyar and Mr. Anderson were informed that many East Timorese feel that the World Bank is not treating them with respect." AIDWATCH: Monitoring the Development Dollar
See also:

BD: TIMOR OIL - A collection of recent reports, position statements, petitions, articles and news
Feb 26 CAA-OA: Asian Development Bank and Australia's role in the Mekong region  Launch
Dec 31 2000 LHB: Democracy and the World Bank in East Timor  Editorial & link to Analysis
Dec 22 2000 ETO: Reconstructing suitable sustainable infrastructures  Report
Nov 30 2000 ETO: Employment & unemployment one year after int'l intervention  Report
Nov 6 2000 ETO: Transition, half way to independence  Report
Nov 2000 AW: Timor Watch: Analysis of development proposals of international agencies  Project proposal
Aug 2000 AW: The Rebuilding of ETimor and Bougainville  Newsletter
Portuguese:
Dec 22 2000 OTL: Reconstruir infra-estruturas adaptadas e sustentáveis  Report
Nov 30 2000 OTL: Emprego e desemprego após um ano de intervenção internacional  Report
Nov 6 2000 OTL: Transição, a meio caminho para a independência  Report

AID WATCH: Monitoring the Development Dollar

Press Release

Thursday 26th April 2001
 

World Bank Dictating Terms of Development in East Timor

Two AID/WATCH volunteers returned from East Timor yesterday and observed that, while East Timorese society has been heartened by the stability and security restored by the Peace Keeping Forces, and by the good relief work supported by the international community, it is distressed and confused by the emerging role of the World Bank.

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


For further information please contact:
Tim Anderson - Researcher  Ph: 61-9660-4580
James Arvanitakis - Campaign director  61-421-068-167
Yoga Sofyar - Researcher  61-9369-2134
AID/WATCH
PO Box 652, Woollahra NSW 2025, AUSTRALIA
PHONE (+61)(02)9387 5210  FAX(+61)(02)9386 1497
EMAIL aidwatch@mpx.com.au
AID/WATCH   Monitoring the Development Dollar
  Updated Apr 4

AID/WATCH is a community-based, not for profit, activist group that campaigns on Australian involvement in overseas aid and development projects, programs and policies. AID/WATCH works with partners in low-income countries, including East Timor, where people are adversely affected by Australian development activities. This may occur through bilateral aid programs, multilateral development banks and Australian corporations. AID/WATCH also aims to inform the Australian community of how their aid dollar is being spent and what impact it is having, believing that increased awareness of the reality of international aid will lead to aid programs that truly benefit the local population.
Purpose: To support people and communities in low-income countries to determine their own development futures; to ensure that aid money reaches the right people, communities and their environments, and that aid projects are implemented with stringent environmental, ethical, social and cultural guidelines
Telephone from within Australia: (02) 9387-5210  Telephone from overseas: +61 2 9387 5210  PO Box 652, Woollahra NSW 2025, AUSTRALIA
Email: aidwatch@mpx.com.au  Homepage: http://www.aidwatch.org.au
AID/WATCH Articles:
July 1999 East Timor: Australia's accountability: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/earlygoodman.htm
July 1999 Viva Timor L'este: Beyond Silence, Betrayal, Cowardice & Murder: http://www.pcug.org.au~wildwood/earlyviva.htm
August 2000 Partnership versus ‘consultation’ in East Timor: http://www.pcug.org.au~wildwood/earlypartner.htm
AID/WATCH Newsletter:
August 2000 The Rebuilding of ETimor and Bougainville: http://www.aidwatch.org.au/news/20/index.htm
November 2000 Project Proposal: Timor Watch: http://www.pcug.org.au/~wildwood/novaidwatch.htm

See also:

BD: TIMOR OIL - A collection of recent reports, position statements, petitions, articles and news

Feb 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

Dec 31 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

Dec 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

Portuguese:
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

Nov 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

Portuguese:
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

Nov 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

Portuguese:
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

Nov 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


BACK DOOR Newsletter on East Timor      home April news
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