Wednesday, January 20, 2010
MEDIA RELEASE : Timor-Leste Prime Minister must act on knowledge of official corruption
Dili, January 20, 2010
Timor-Leste Prime Minister must act on knowledge of official corruption
It is routine for MPs in Timor-Leste to press Ministers to give public works contracts to their preferred business mates, and the de facto Prime Minister, Mr Xanana Gusmao, is fully aware of it, according to a report in the daily Timor Post yesterday.
"The de facto Prime Minister, Mr Xanana Gusmao, is failing in his sworn duty as Prime Minister, as well as his own campaign promise not to tolerate official corruption and criminal collusion," responded FRETILIN's Vice President and MP, Mr Arsenio Bano.
The Timor Post had quoted Mr Gusmao at a business function: "Please if there are any of you in this room, do not use members of the National Parliament to telephone the Ministers."
Mr Bano said, "This is clear evidence that the de facto Prime Minister knows of the existence of trafficking of influence, which is a criminal offense in our law. Yet he is prepared to tolerate it, just as he has tolerated clear findings by our anti-corruption watchdog, the Provedor, of misconduct by his own Ministers and a Deputy Prime
The Gusmao government has been under siege over corruption, collusion and cronyism in the procurement of goods and services involving multimillion dollar contracts. There are outstanding and un-investigated allegations involving his immediate family as well as the spouses and daughters of his Ministers.
Last August Mr Gusmao handed out the $70 million 'Referendum Package' of untendered public works contracts. Beneficiaries included the Prime Minister's trusted mates such as his godfather, Mr Julio Alfaro.
"The Referendum Package also has to be investigated," said Mr Bano, "not only because of the collusion and cronyism but because of the waste involved. These badly planned and executed public works are now widely criticised as having poor quality and many are very late in completion.
"Now the Prime Minister is telling the business community - these same people whom he warned not to use MPs to ring his Ministers to obtain favourable treatment - that the Referendum Package will be replicated in 2010. This is unacceptable," Mr Bano warned.
The Timor Post reported Mr Gusmao as saying that public works contracts worth less than US$250,000 "will not undergo a tender process but will merely be handed out.
"With these, I myself and the AECCOP and the district coordinators (from the Referendum Package) will continue to manage," Mr Gusmao told the business men, referring to the unacceptable no-tender method used in the Referendum Package in August and September last year. AECCOP is the Timorese civil and public works contractors association, headed by the de facto Prime Minister's Godfather, Mr. Julio Alfaro.
"The de facto Prime Minister is behaving more like the dictator Soeharto, who is his self-confessed hero of national economic development. Is it any wonder that he does not have the moral or political courage to refer evidence that he has regarding trafficking of influence by MPs in his own alliance to the Prosecutor General's
office?" Mr Bano asked.
For further information please call Jose Teixeira MP on +670 728 7080