BBC Monitoring Asia Pacific - Political
Presenter East Timor will have to fight poverty and find economic alternatives to the profits obtained through the exploration of oil. These are the priorities set by the new East Timorese government, the second transitional government of the territory since the 1999 independence referendum endorsed by the 30 August elections for the first constituent assembly. Mari Alkatiri, secretary general of the winning party Fretilin Revolutionary Front for an Independent East Timor is likely to be appointed as prime minister of East Timor. In his first interview since the elections day, Mari Alkatiri set the future objectives of the territory.
Alkatiri In terms of the economy, we are absolutely sure that East Timor’s economy would not be sustainable if we did not solve the poverty problems from the outset. The eradication of poverty needs to be the main priority of this country. This means we should not only improve agricultural production, but we should also improve the educational system, the health service, the housing stock and the supply of water and electricity. These can be achieved in several ways: Firstly, through the decentralization of development, secondly, by solving the poverty problem, thirdly, by giving incentive to what I would call the urban exodus, because during the war we were witnesses to a rural exodus, which has overcrowded the towns. So, if we manage to concentrate investment and development in the interior, we will be able to sprawl the towns into the country instead of the opposite situation.
Presenter With a balanced economy in mind, the new administration of East Timor is aiming at the development of tourism and is counting on the profits from oil exploration in the territory.
Alkatiri I usually say that we were lucky because we have oil, but we are also lucky not to be receiving the profits of its exploration yet, because if we were, if we were presently in possession of these profits, our economy would still not be sufficiently prepared to absorb these profits appropriately, nor would be appropriately enabled to manage these profits. Therefore, we would risk seeing these profits being placed in private accounts abroad. Fortunately we are only going to benefit from these profits, or at least from its bulk, in 2004. On the other hand, if we were already receiving profits from the oil exploration we could be smothering other areas of the economy, such as the fishing sector, the coffee industry, the agricultural sector in general, our forests and the so-called on-shore said in English mining activity. But there is also the tourism industry: how are we going to set up the tourism industry in East Timor? We would like to see Tourism linked with nature, but there should also be a certain scope for beach tourism, thus involving a balanced planning. Mainly, the development of East Timor should be pillared on renewable resources and not on non-renewable ones. This is what is important, because this is the only way by which we can achieve a sustainable development.
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