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Boosting the Private Sector key to Sustainable Growth: UNPAZ Rector

Boosting the Private Sector key to Sustainable Growth: UNPAZ Rector

Tourists take in the view at Hera, east of Dili. There are renewed calls to develop Timor's tourism sector. (Image/Tourism Dept)

DILI, 29 November 2019 (TATOLI) – The head of one of Timor-Leste’s largest universities has taken a swipe at the spending priorities in the upcoming general state budget (OJE), saying it fails to invest properly in the private sector.

Speaking after the graduation of more than 1,000 students at the National University of Peace (UNPAZ), Rector Adolmando Soares Amaral said OJE 2020 ought to focus more heavily on developing agriculture and tourism.

“In Timor-Leste, the private sector does not make the investment; the investment that drives…economic growth is coming from general estate budget.. [so if] the budget is small, growth will not increase,” he said.

Agriculture provides subsistence to estimated 80 percent of the population, according to the latest agricultural census. But Dr Amaral has questioned the effectiveness of government subsidies, such as those given to barley farmers, arguing they have created a dependence in many communities.

Director of NGO Luta Hamutuk (Tetum: ‘Struggle Together’) José Alves da Costa said more research is needed about how to support Timor’s farmers.

“We don’t want invest in agriculture sector, only to…create lots of products only consumed [domestically] without exporting, thus, with no impact on economic growth,” Mr Costa said.

He said the TL economy will not be sustainable without further importance places on “productive” sectors such as agriculture and manufacturing. And he called for an independent body to be set up to manage the priorities of economic diversification.

In a speech on national Independence Day, President Guterres Lú Olo said the government had not demonstrated a plan for sustainable development of Timor-Leste.

“It is very urgent to diversify our economy, to get rid of dependency to oil and gas through the development of the private sector, such as agriculture… manufacturing and tourism,” the president said.

Dr Amaral agrees.

“We need to prioritise all our tourist attractions to get the [sector’s] income back,” he said.

Debate for the OJE 2020 has commenced in Timor-Leste’s National Parliament in Dili, and is expected to continue until Thursday.

First published in Tetum as: Garante Ekonomia Sustentavel Tenke Investe Iha Setór Produtivu Sira

Journalist: Antónia Gusmão

Editors: Maria Auxiliadora; Robert Baird

Translation: Nelia Borges

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