Monthly Archives: February 2011

Scientists stumble on ancient Timor rock art

SYDNEY – SCIENTISTS hunting for fossils of giant rats in East Timor stumbled on unique rock carvings up to 12,000 years old, Australia’s research agency said.

The experts were digging in Timor’s Lene Hara cave, a treasure trove of fossils and rock art, when they chanced upon a group of stylised human faces etched in the rock.

‘Looking up from the cave floor at a colleague sitting on a ledge, my head torch shone on what seemed to be a weathered carving,’ said Ken Aplin of Australia’s Commonwealth Scientific and Research Organisation (CSIRO).

‘I shone the torch around and saw a whole panel of engraved prehistoric human faces on the wall of the cave.’ The face carvings, which include one with a circular headdress resembling the sun, are the first of their kind to be found in Timor and the only ones from the Pleistocene period (ending 12,000 years ago) in the region.

‘The local landowners with whom we were working were stunned by the findings. They said the faces had chosen that day to reveal themselves because they were pleased by the field work we were doing,’ Mr Aplin said.

Other art in the cave has been dated at around 30,000 years old, while CSIRO last year said it had discovered evidence of an extinct species of ancient, giant rats the size of small dogs. — AFP

Please get the word out- plastic surgery in Dili

Hi all,
if you are in Timor or have contacts in Timor can you please pass this information on. The last trip they made they found that not many people knew they were coming.

Mark Moore our Plastic surgeon will be flying to Dili on the 1st April 2011 and will be consulting and operating at the Dili national hospital for the week.

If you know of any one to contact in East Timor would you mind passing on this information.

If any patients want to see Mark it is best to contact Mark’s local counterpart, Dr Joao, 670 7444799

Dr Joao can then make sure they will be seen and receive their operation.

I just want to make sure that patients needing surgery for their Cleft lips and palates as well as burn injuries have an opportunity to see Mark.

I have attached a poster to pass on if required.

But best to contact Dr. Joao with above number rather than the contact details on the poster.

Kind regards


Arsenio Bano: Extreme Move by Xanana Centralizing 2011 National Budget Under His Control


Opinion piece by ARSENIO BANO, FRETILIN Vice President and MP

6 February 2011

The 2011 National Budget is yet to be proclaimed by the President of the Republic, because maybe President Ramos Horta is still analyzing it or perhaps he may still await a review by the Court of Appeal on the constitutionality of the budget law passed by parliament. As at the start of this month numerous roads are about to erode away because the rains are so persistent.

Road access to Ermera is in danger. Last night the road at Fatu Ahi fell away again, the bridge at Loes is in grave danger of falling over very soon unless it is repaired soon. Many of the national roads to the districts are fast degrading.

Our peoples_ money has been spent annually on budgets totaling almost US$3 billion since this de facto government has been elected. The changes that have been brought in through the 2011 budget structure have in fact reduced the government_s incapacity to respond to this worsening road situation throughout the country. The AMP de facto government which is composed of 40 members of government, from the Prime Minister down to the Deputy PM, Ministers, Vice Ministers, and Secretaries of State, according to the organizational structure of the de facto government will be unable to implement the total budget that was approved by the National Parliament on 28 January 2011, but that is awaiting proclamation by the President of the Republic.

There is every likelihood that the levels of execution of the budget, our peoples_ money, for 2011 will be worse than in previous years, because of the manner in which this year_s budget has been centralized in the hands of the Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.

The Prime Ministers has the control of most of the money from all the members of government, having a budget of US$747,417,000 of the US$1,306,018,000 total 2011 National Budget approved by the National Parliament.

The US$747,417,000 to be managed by the Prime Minister and the Office of the Presidency of the Council of Minister (again the Prime Minister) is made up of: US$72,038,000 to the Prime Minister and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, with US$22,579,000 of this amount going to the Secretaries of State directly under the responsibility of the Prime Minister such as the Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers, Secretary of State for Youth and Sports, the Secretary of State for Natural Resources and the Secretary of State for Promotion of Equality.

The Prime Minister as the Minister of Defense and Security also heads two Secretariats of State, for Defense and Security issues, which have a total budget allocation for 2011 of US$51,073,000.

The Prime Minister_s own budget is US$49,459,000, excluding the Secretariats of State that are dependent on him and distributed as follows: $66,000 to the Prime Minister_s secretariat in the Office of the PM; $856,000 to his Finance and Administration Directorate; $1,217,000 to his Human Resources Directorate; $102,000 for the Official Residence of the PM; $51,000 to the office of the PM_s Director General; $22,000 to the deputy PM_s office; $10,362,000 to the National Development Agency; US$32,311,000 to the National Procurement Commission; US$2,000,000 to National Intelligence Service; US$1,409,000 to the Office of the Inspector General.

There have been other noticeable changes to the budget for the PM and the Presidency of the Council of Ministers for 2011, with allocations from previous years no longer there. For example in 2011 there is no longer an allocation for the Strategic Planning Unit, which since the 2007 Transitional Budget up to 2010 had budget allocations totaling US$4,937,000.

In 2010 alone, the de facto PM had spent US$4,151,000 on the Strategic Planning Unit to supposedly draft the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP), but to date the Plan itself has not been publicly available and has certainly not been approved. [1]

The NSDP draft that was written by Indonesian company PT DSI Makmur Sejahtera who was paid US$2,981,000 in 2010 but to date the government has not yet presented the plan to the National Parliament for debate and approval as undertaken by the PM. New agencies to be established in the PM_s hands include the National Development Agency with a total budget allocation of US$32,311,000 with US$3,000,000 to be paid for professional services of non civil servants.

Other allocations to the NDA include US$500,000 for operational expenses, and US$28,811,000 for development capital, which will be spent on the PPD-II in the sucos and sub-districts. The NDA, according to the government_s explanations during the budget debate will be an entity that will manage a total budget of US$599,306,000 in the Infrastructure Fund and US$25,000,000 in the Human Capital Fund. No salaries and wages, travel or other allocations were provided in the NDA_s budget.

The NDA_s budget allocation is for only goods and services of US$3,500,000 to pay national and international temporary staff and operational expenses to manage the two funds. The structure of this budget for the NDA arouses grave concerns of its capacity to execute the huge budget it has been allocated.

The NDA will emerge as just another unit in PM Xanana_s control illustrating the centralization trend in the management of our peoples_ money through the annual budgets. The Infrastructure Fund and Human Capital Fund can be seen as an instrument to remove powers and functions previously exercised by the line Ministries and Ministers. There is no doubt that the budget allocations for these two funds came directly from what would otherwise be the capital development funds of line ministries.

An example is the Ministry of Infrastructure_s budget for electricity for 2011, which has instead been allocated in the Infrastructure Fund under PM Xanana_s control; being US$448,741,000 for electricity and US$20,320,000 for water and sanitation. Other projects of all sorts that should have been allocated to the Ministry of Infrastructure totaling US$22,813,000 for ports and roads were also allocated to the Infrastructure Fund under the PM_s control in the NDA.

Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao should be strengthening the line ministries and secretariats of state, improving their capacity and the quality of services they are already supposed to deliver. The NDA, as a new agency, despite being under the PM_s control, will be incapable of managing and executing the huge budget allocation it was given in the 2011 budget in the two funds.

New agencies do not have the requisite experience and capacity or systems in place that are strong enough to manage and execute such large budgets, and will inevitably result in irregularities and corrupt practices in doing so. There is already a lot of information circulating that the capital works projects allocated in the 2011 budget had already been distributed to contractors even before they were approved by the National Parliament, before the NDA has been established, but worse, before the 2011 National Budget has been proclaimed by the President of the Republic, Dr. Jose Ramos Horta, as it is required to be under the constitution.

Lastly, we can see that for 2011, 34 members of the AMP government from a total of 40 members of the whole government will only manage US$558,547,00 from a total national budget of US$1,306,018,000. The Prime Minister will have under his direct control the implementation of a budget totaling US$747,417,000. This will place a huge burden on him, which from previous experience of the lack of capacity in execution of previous budgets, he has shifted the blame to his members of government instead of taking responsibility for his own failure as the head of the government.

With the new budget structure of the 2011 national budget, the burden will heavily shift towards Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao_s own shoulders as a result of the centralization of the peoples_ money in the two funds to be managed by the NDA. Link to government media release:

[1] Budget for the Strategic Planning Unit: 2007 Transitional Budget: US$94,000; 2008 Budget: US$223,000; 2009 Budget: US$469,000; 2010 Budget: US$4,151,000.


The True Test of East Timor

Jakarta Globe

Dalih Sembiring | February 06, 2011

East Timor, officially known as Timor-Leste, is
experiencing an economic boom. The problem is
that it_s only happening in the country_s
capital, Dili, and it_s only benefiting a small number of people.

Fernanda Borges, known as one of the most vocal
members of East Timor_s Parlamento Nacional, has
a clear idea of what is driving the country_s
economy and why it is so focused on the capital.

_At the moment, it_s all about construction.
Everyone wants to be in construction and development,_ she said.

It_s a situation that has fueled double-digit
growth in the country_s economy over the past
three years. But, according to Borges, all this
success could be coming at the expense of more
balanced growth in other sectors of the economy.

_Not much attention is being paid to creating
conditions necessary for us to be able to, say,
strengthen our livestock and horticulture
exports, which a lot of women are involved with,
on the border between Indonesia and East Timor._

Interviewed in his brand new office in Dili, the
country_s president, Jose Ramos-Horta, agreed with Borges_s assessment.

_Dili is becoming a boomtown. We have traffic
jams almost all day long _ the number of cars and
motorbikes has exploded in the last two years.
You see thousands of stores and shops in the
city, but drive an hour outside of Dili and you
see next-to-zero development in rural areas._

This lack of growth in rural areas seems
entrenched, despite 12 percent annual increases
in the economy over the last three years. Over 60
percent of businesses are centered in the capital city.

Those living outside of Dili have, by and large,
been forced to fend for themselves.

In Bobonaro district, farmer Rui Naibau Melo has
been keeping himself updated on the progress of
repairs to a bridge over the Loes River along the
main route between the district_s capital Maliana and Dili.

The bridge was damaged over two weeks ago, but,
to date, no crews have shown up to fix it. Rui
frequently ships his cattle along this route and
if the bridge collapses, his livestock and other
goods will have to be shipped via a far more
demanding route to reach Dili_s markets.

This is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes
to the problems Rui is facing in his livestock business.

As one of only four cattle suppliers in Bobonaro,
Rui has not been allowed to continue trading his
cows and water buffaloes across the border into
Atambua in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT), Indonesia,
since new regulations took effect last August.

_My cattle exports to Indonesia were slowed down
in 2005, when the Indonesian government issued a new regulation,_ Melo said.

_Before that, I could easily send cattle across
to Atambua twice a month, about 80 to 100 cows each time._

Bobonaro is one of East Timor_s three districts
that border NTT. In its vast, hill-fringed dry
fields and savannas, cows, water buffaloes and
goats are set loose by their owners to graze.
Fences are not part of the local custom here.

Just like in many parts of Indonesia, the animals
here function as financial assets, and are a common form of belis , or dowry.

Traditionally, grazing cattle have been moved
from East to West Timor and vice versa according
to what land had the best pasture.

The establishment of a definitive border between
the Dutch-colonized western half and the
Portuguese-colonized eastern half of the island
in the early 20th century made this practice more
difficult, but it wasn_t until Indonesia took
control of East Timor between 1976 and 1999, that
cattle herds began to be thought of as business
assets rather than just personal possessions.

After gaining its independence in 2002, East
Timor was allowed to ship 2,000 head of cattle to Indonesia per year.

But many of these small suppliers have become
inactive due to their inability to compete with
the illegal trade of livestock and other goods
that is rampant along the country_s borders.

Helio Sinatra Tavares, executive director for
external trade at East Timor_s Ministry of
Tourism, Commerce and Industry, is aware of the
illegal trade along the border that takes place
in Batugade, Salele and Bobometo.

_This is happening behind everyone_s back. The
border is so wide that even 500 border police are
not going to be effective,_ Tavares said.

As a preventive step, the Indonesian government
has threatened to blacklist any East Timor cattle
suppliers caught engaging in this illegal border trade.

Yosep Bere Buti in Atambua, Belu district, used
to have a permit to sell cattle he imported from
East Timor to several Indonesian buyers, but he
thinks obtaining and keeping these permits up to
date is becoming more trouble than its worth.

_Since 2005, I have to get the permit all the way
from the Directorate General of Animal Husbandry
in Jakarta and it_s only valid for three months,_ Buti said.

_Moreover, the price of cows from Maliana has
gone up. Meanwhile, the East Timor government has
raised the number of cows allowed for each
shipment outside the country to 50, which is a
big number for the buyers there._

The familial relations and a shared language and
culture that exist between inhabitants of
Indonesian West Timor and independent East Timor
have helped create good conditions for business
partnerships, but the harsh fact remains that
almost all of what Indonesia imports from East
Timor can also be obtained domestically.

Mech Saba, head of the NTT_s Chamber of Commerce
and Industry (Kadin NTT), said there is no
commodity that Indonesia really needs to import from East Timor.

A lack of structure and oversight adds to the
difficulties of doing business with East Timor.

The world_s second-youngest nation has yet to
push a lot of laws and regulations through its
parliament. As a result, Doing Business, a
cooperative study by the World Bank and the
International Finance Corporation, recently
ranked the country 174 out of 183 economies in
the ease of doing business category.

Meanwhile, East Timor is importing a great deal,
with the largest amount of merchandise coming from Indonesia.

According to a draft of the World Bank_s
Diagnostic Trade Integration Study in August
2010, Indonesian goods accounted for 47 percent
of East Timor_s total imports between 2004 and 2008.

But until something changes, East Timor, a
country of nearly 15,000 square kilometers in
size and slightly over one million people, will
be forced to rely on exports of its horticultural
commodities as a main source of income.

The country is also getting creative in hunting buyers for its goods.

Big and small entrepreneurs have been
increasingly making use of a nonprofit
organization named Peace Dividend Trust.

The organization specializes in connecting
sellers with international agents working inside and outside the country.

The effort is undertaken either through direct
lobbying or using the organization_s Internet
business database and matchmaking service, which
can be found online at

There has been a 240 percent increase in visits
from Indonesian buyers in the six months since
the site was translated into Indonesian last July.

PDT, with it_s slogan, _Buy Local, Build
Timor-Leste,_ has been a big help in the eyes of local business owners.

As of the end of 2010, the organization was
responsible for over 13,000 new contracts with
approximately 12 percent of these being in the
agricultural sector _ the vast majority being
cattle, mungbeans, and soybeans _ and over 600
tenders being distributed to East Timorese entrepreneurs.

There are, of course, obstacles for smaller
entrepreneurs, but it turns out that the main
obstacle boils down to simple communication.

A cross-border event hosted by PDT last November
on the border of Bobonaro and Indonesian West
Timor, attended by entrepreneurs, government
officials, representatives of the chambers of
commerce, customs officials and border police
from both sides, resulted in the realization that
the main barrier to improving border trade is
getting everyone on the same page.

Domingas dos Santos, a PDT representative, has
made multiple trips to West Timor in an attempt
to find and break down communication barriers.

On one trip she discovered that buyers there
found that the crops from East Timor were of poor quality.

_The PDT began working with the [Bobonaro]
Chamber of Commerce to hold workshops. We
informed [farmers] about the right way of
planting and looking after their crops and
harvest. As a result, these farmers are selling a
lot more of what they grow,_ said Santos.

East Timor_s Chamber of Commerce and Industry
(Ccitl) is also lobbying countries other than Indonesia.

_Starting this year, one company will be
exporting large amounts of turmeric to China,
which is also interested in our fruits and wild
scorpions,_ said Ricardo Nheu, vice president of the Ccitl.

_We are cooperating with Malaysia for [the
opening of] rubber plantations. We are trying to
open ways to export cattle to Malaysia too. The
biggest importer of our coffee is the US and Europeans like our spices.

_Everything we grow is organic,_ he added.

_The government is just beginning to focus on
larger export items that can balance out our
trade deficit. The next step is giving subsidies
and fighting for a banking loan system to support the export sector._

The challenges are many, but the world_s
second-youngest country is far from taking them lying down.