Dili, 24 August 2010
De facto deputy Prime Minister Mario Carrascalao’s attempt to defend his hiring of a Timorese citizen as an “international advisor” in his office on a monthly salary of US$17,000, shows he is not a “new broom” or Mr Clean in the fight against misconduct and corruption inside the Gusmao de facto government, said FRETILIN Vice President and MP Arsenio Bano today.
The Dili weekly newspaper Tempo Semanal published details of a contract signed by Mr Carrascalao which set a salary of US$17,000 per month for a procurement advisor in his office.
Mr Carrascalao replied with a media release accusing Tempo Semanal of “illegal” and “inappropriate” behaviour. He also announced an investigation into the “leaking” of the contract document.
Arsenio Bano said FRETILIN believed the contract should have been publicly available as a matter of good governance.
Mr Bano said Mr Carrascalao had previously complained about his ministerial colleagues deliberately witholding documents he needs to investigate complaints of corruption and misconduct.
“In attacking the publication of what should be a public document, Mr Carrascalao is himself perpetuating the practice of many of his ministerial colleagues,” Mr Bano said.
Mr Bano said he did not doubt that the leak came from shadowy forces within the AMP de facto government seeking to destroy the credibility of Mr Carrascalao’s anti-corruption work.
“However it is a mistake for Mr Carrascalao to perpetuate the culture of non-disclosure, unaccountability and lack of transparency that prevails in the Gusmao de facto government,” Mr Bano said.
“The leak is symptomatic of the divisions, turf wars and battle for control of procurement, that has been going on between Mr Carrascalao and those who have corruptly stolen millions of dollars of public funds. We have no doubt it was done to discredit Mr. Carrascalao and his work. But he too must be transparent and accountable, not just preach it.”
Mr Bano said FRETILIN and other members of the parliamentary opposition have for over three years now been denied access to numerous documents regarding government budget expenditure, including large infrastructure projects arranged without a transparent tendering process.
“MPs from FRETILIN and other parties were stunned and appalled when de facto Deputy Prime Minister, Jose Luis Guterres, claimed in parliament on February 20, 2009 that government contracts are ‘confidential’, and so details and copies will not be disclosed to parliament.
“If his government can use ‘confidentiality clauses’ in agreements to justify withholding information from parliament, what hope will any anti-corruption committee or watchdog have?” Mr Bano asked.
Mr Bano listed the formal requests that FRETILIN and other parties have made for details of and copies of government contracts since 2007, which the de facto government has ignored. They include:
1. Documents regarding the purchase of luxury 4 Wheel Drive vehicles for MPs, which was opposed by FRETILIN and the National Unity Party;
2. Contracts for international and national advisors employed by the Ministry of Finance, including those of political appointees;
3. Documents for the contract awarded by the government for the acquisition and installation of a second-hand heavy fuel oil power station;
4. Contract for the acquisition of two navy patrol boats from a Chinese company, awarded without a tender;
5. Documents relating to the purchase and importation of US$48 million worth of rice;
6. Documents detailing payments pursuant to the pensions law for former political officeholders;
7. Agreements and / or MOUs signed by the government with energy companies to grant marketing and / or other rights relating to petroleum from the Greater Sunrise field and the development of that field.
“By refusing access to information regarding transactions involving the people’s money, the de facto government is preventing parliament from exercising effective oversight of public finances,” Mr Bano said.
For further information please contact Arsenio Bano on +670 741 9505