The Bishop of Dili, Mgr Carlos Filipie Ximenes Belo said this when commenting on an STL report that the Timor Gap royalties for East Timor [based on a formula of 90:10] could propel the country into a rich nation status in the Asia-Pacific.
I am skeptical with all the talk that we will be a rich country because of oil. We will only be a rich country if the royalties (from oil and gas) are used to develop the country and not if they are spent by those who have been corrupted, he said.
In order to ensure that the royalties are used only for the country, Bishop Belo called for the setting up of an independent body that will monitor every liter of oil from the Timor Gap and the way royalties are generated from it. Also the manner in which the royalties are spent will be closely monitored.
That independent body could be set up by the new government, said Bishop Belo. But Bishop Belo warned that the composition of the body must include credible people from the private sector, social organizations and the Church. He stressed that the body should be a national one.
If there is such a watchdog, I believe East Timor will be a rich country. If not we might be like certain nations in Africa where oil revenue has been used to enrich the corrupt and not the people, said Bishop Belo.
“I value Bishop Belo’s call as a positive one. However, I have to ask who will set up the body. Is it going to be the administration or the private sector?” asked Mariano.
The Inspector-General also said, the proposed Timor Gap Watch cannot be multifunctional. It has to only concentrate on the Timor Gap, he said.
Mariano said Bishop Belo’s proposal had to be implemented to protect the country’s valuable natural resource. He said if there is uncontrolled exploitation, without any accountability, of the country resources, the Timorese people will fail to realize any benefits.
“If there is a body like the Timor Gap Watch, I agree East Timor will be a rich country. If not, we will be like Africa which is rich in oil resources but poor because their leaders are corrupt,” he said.
BD: TIMOR OIL - A collection of recent Reports, Position statements, Petitions, Articles and News
5 RDP: Timorese leaders say oil revenue must be spent wisely
News added July 6
"Until a system is set up to ensure that the money, these resources, will indeed benefit the whole population and not just some bank accounts, it will be a good idea to take great care. And above all we must develop a transparent, solid, effective system to absorb this money and spend it positively to develop the whole country." Mari Alkatiri, East Timor’s Minister for Economic Affairs