Ramos-Horta: Tmor Leste will Remain Successful Without Oil
Timor Leste, one of the poorest countries in the world, it can still be an economic success story despite reports of oil and gas fields the main will be dry in 2022 and will go bankrupt in 2027, according to the former leader.
Undermined the years of foreign occupation, the youngest country of Southeast Asia relies heavily on the energy sector are increasingly reduced, which accounted for 78 percent of the state budget 2017.
Speaking on the sidelines of a Weekend of International Civil Society in the capital of Fiji, Suva, Jose Ramos-Horta – who served as prime minister from 2006-2007 and president from 2007-2012 – affirm his country, once seen as the poster child for developing countries. , can overcome the obstacles of the economy.
“Timor Leste was only 15 years old. If You see what sort of state I at the beginning of this century, You'd be surprised,” said Ramos-Horta told Al Jazeera.
Indonesia annexed east Timor, which is located at the eastern end of the Indonesian archipelago, in 1975 when colonial power Portugal to release him.
The Indonesian military, Suharto swept the country with lightning attacks, laying waste to entire villages with the weapons and equipment made in USA.
More than 100,000 east Timorese were killed in the occupation of 24 years according to the academics the University of Oxford and Yale University which is called as a genocide.
When Indonesia finally departed in 1999 after the independence referendum supervised by the united nations, more than 80 percent of the country's infrastructure has been destroyed.
The country is fully independent in 2002 after a period of three years of UN administration.
“In 2002, we have 19 doctors of east Timor in this country,” said the man, aged 67 years. “Today we are already approaching 1,000 people.”
“We have almost no electricity anywhere in the country, including the capital city, Dili. Currently, we have continuous power supply in 80 percent of the country. The remaining 20 percent use alternative methods such as solar energy.”
Ramos Horta, who was awarded the Nobel Peace prize in 1996 because of lobbying foreign leaders for the withdrawal of Indonesia, said that his government planned to melting of the reserves of oil and gas, with the economic future of the country is no longer dependent on deposit abroad.
“Unlike many oil-producing countries and other gases, we immediately create a sovereign wealth fund. We started with a £ 250 million and now we have more than $ 16 billion in the bank.
“At that time, these laws say 90 percent of oil and gas revenues will be used to buy U.S. government bonds is Ten percent, we can use the to diversify Because we don't have a lot of experience in the international market, we decided to invest. everything in US treasury bonds.
“When the 2008 financial crisis struck, the economy is better than our country, the countries with the international level which is more powerful such as Singapore and Norway, losing tens of billions. East Timor do not lose a penny.”
Speaking to the media in 2008, politicians educated US the regret of Timor Leste can be the “Dubai next”.
However, tension had developed in the nascent democracy because of income inequality and high levels of unemployment.
According to recent figures the government from 2014, was 41.8 percent of its population living below the poverty line with an income of $ 1,52 per day.
The current government, led by Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, also face increasing pressure to generate new jobs with 60 percent of its population aged under 25 years.
Oil and gas field of the country's main, project Bayu-Undan field operated by ConocoPhillips, gives about $ 20 billion for the oil fund over the last 10 years, but is expected to stop production in the year 2022.
“We changed our legislation in 2009 to allow a greater change in the portfolio of our economy. We now have more than 1,000 investment in the whole world,” said Ramos Horta.
“We have hundreds of people learn to master their masters in countries abroad. At the same time, we invest wisely. We undergo this investment.
“When I say Dubai, I was daydreaming, Forget Dubai, I will be happy if east Timor can achieve a height in Fiji.”
However, researchers in think-tank based in Dili, la'o Hamutuk said unless new sources of revenue found, such a state can go bankrupt the year 2027.
La'o Hamutuk warned parliament of east Timor in the last year that the budget 2017 $ 1.39 billion will be requesting a withdrawal of more than $ 1 billion from the petroleum fund. With the government planning to issue nearly four times the revenue estimates every year between the years 2018 and 2021, the balance of funds will come down at least $ 3 billion, to $ 13 billion.
Think-tank urges the government to reassess the some of the mega-project, calling into question “their profits for the majority of the people of Timor”.
“Project-this project will replace the local community, utilizing valuable agricultural land, destroy livelihoods of farmers and pollute the environment. Meanwhile, the money spent in it is derived from a limited number, and is no longer available for the required project, sustainable economic development, equitable distribution of projects, and social services to all people, “he said.
In addition to oil, agriculture is a key component of the economy, which provide the necessities of life for about 80 percent of the population.
Commodity exports are the most significant is coffee, which accounted for annual export of $ 30 million in 2016.
“We can do much better,” said Ramos Horta when stressed about the future economy of east Timor is still young. “But we can't do miracles.