300,000 New Jobs by 2023: UPMA

300,000 New Jobs by 2023: UPMA

Coordinator of the Prime Minister's Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (UPMA) Brigida Soares, says a 10 per cent reduction in Timor's poverty rate is possible by 2023. (Image/UPMA)

DILI, 23 October 2019 (TATOLI) – The Timor-Leste government has outlined its plans to reduce the poverty rate by 10 per cent and create 300,000 new jobs by the end of its term.

The Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation Unit (UPMA) of the Office of the Prime Minister outlined the targets today, as the government prepares to introduce Budget 2020 (OJE) into the National Parliament.

UPMA Coordinator, Brigida Soares, said the primary goal in the 2020-2023 objectives is an overall growth rate of seven per cent per annum.

“Preparation for 2020 annual planning is complete, [and we’ve] submitted the planning book and financial book to the National Parliament,” she said.

The Council of Ministers last month approved a State General Budget (OJE) 2020 totalling $US 1.95 billion, comprised of $1.88 billion in spending across 86 government agencies, and $73 million in loan repayments.

OJE 2020 is propped up an almost $US 1.2b withdrawal from the Petroleum Fund. That’s above the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI) level, but Ms Soares claims the balance sheets look worse than they really are.

“In 2019 we have not had good results, because [many] program structures are not complete yet, and because we’ve only just made available our rigorous evaluations of nine public ministries and 15 autonomous [government] entities,” she said.

Ms Soares said the baseline for the four-year plan is an annual growth rate of 3.1 per cent (as of 2016); 41.8 per cent living below the poverty line (2014); and an unemployment rate of 4.8 per cent (2015).

By 2023, the government aims to boost growth to seven per cent per annum; reduce the poverty rate to 31.8 per cent and create 60,000 jobs a year.

To get there, Ms Soares said in 2020, all 86 government agencies will implement structural reforms, on top of changes already made this year.

The UMPA would then be able to streamline the ministries according to their functions, duties and competencies, she said.

“By 2020, we will be able to align the programs of these ministries to identify how many programs [actually] contribute to the priorities set down by the government,” she said.

Borrowing to build

The UPMA Coordinator said OJE 2020 outlines five priority sectors:

  • “Improving lives” – which includes infrastructure spending – $863 million, or around 50 per cent of the budget;
  • Public Finance – $205 million, or 12 per cent;
  • Expanding “national connectivity” – $318 million, or 19 per cent;
  • Defense – $244 million, or 14 per cent;
  • And justice and human rights, $93 million, or five per cent

“Each sector has each program details already available, thus…it provides us easy access to each program within the budget, [and] facilitates monitoring of government spending…[so we can] see if budget execution is achieving results,” she said.

“Uma Lulik” repairs, and other new spending

OJE 2020 also includes a $1.5 million grant to support rural women; a subsidy of $1.5 million for the Community Policing Council (KPK); and $1.5 million in agricultural transport subsidies.

The budget also includes around $1 million for repairs to ‘uma luliks’ (traditional spirit houses). There are also 600 grants for university students worth $1,000 each.

Other allocations include:
– $2.7 million for Border Police and Community Police;
– $1 million to build a new office for RTTL and TATOLI;
– $2 million for a new transmission tower;
– $24 million for classroom repairs;
– $9.3 million for community health centres;
– $20 million for water and sanitation projects;
– $2 million for a jobs centre of excellence

In addition, the OJE sets aside $3.3 million to fund a specials programs for women, most of which ($1.7m) will go towards empowering female participation in politics. Around $133,000 will go towards combating gender-based violence.

Parliament plans to discuss and enact the 2020 State Budget by 11 December.

First published in Tetum as: Governu iha Objetivu Transversál Tolu iha 2020-2023

Journalist: Antonia Gusmão

Editor: Maria Auxiliadora; Robert Baird

Translation: Nelia Borges


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