OXFAM-TL requests the government to invest more in productive sectors

OXFAM-TL requests the government to invest more in productive sectors

The fields in Atabae, Bobonaro. Image TATOLI//António Daciparu

DILI, 25 june 2021 (TATOLI)-OXFAM International requested the government of Timor-Leste (TL) to provide more investment in productive sectors in order to ensure economic diversification to Timorese people.

OXFAM TL, Country Director, Fausto Belo Ximenes said, currently Timor-Leste only relies on oil revenues to support the country. The request refers to the additional alternatives for the community participation on economic growth in TL’s future.

“Timor-Leste country is mostly dependent on oil which will one day run out.  70% of the Timorese population are farmers. The government should give more attention to the productive sectors to increase the products and people can have more investment,” Fausto told TATOLI, at his office in Hudi Laran Osindo III, this friday.

Fausto explained that the government of Timor Leste over the years the government has allocated a large amount of public resources to large infrastructure projects in in line with its frontloading policy, in comparison to investment in productive sectors (e.g. agriculture, tourism, industry and commerce). While basic infrastructure such as roads, bridges and drainage systems are critical for economic growth and diversification, it is paramount that government increases investment in productive economic and social sectors in order to bring greater socio-economic impacts, and greater improvement in people’s lives.

It is recalled that according to 2019 Oxfam’s data shows, the Timor-Leste’s economy has grown largely due to its rich oil and natural gas resources, the benefits have only flowed to the small middle class in the capital, Dili.

The poverty gap between urban and rural areas has continued to widen in the last decade, with the poverty rate in Dili at 25% compared to 80% in rural areas. The main challenge contributing to the increasing wealth inequality in Timor-Leste is the lack of development of key sectors that are important for addressing poverty, such as agriculture.

“Nearly 70% of the population depends on subsistence agriculture for their livelihood. Thus, the majority of the population depends on agriculture, there has been limited  growth in investment in agricultural sector since 2010,” he explained.

The under investment is stark, with the 2019 APBN (State Revenue and Expenditure Budget) allocating only $14.7 million USD for agriculture. This is the lowest allocation since 2014, when the government allocated $28 million USD.

In fact, under investment is obvious because research shows only 30.000 of the 70.000 hectares of agricultural land are fit for active use.

There is significant untapped potential for increasing food security and incomes for rural residents in Timor-Leste. The Government of Timor-Leste has developed a vision to grow into an upper-middle income country with an educated and healthy population by 2030.

According to this plan, agriculture, tourism and manufacturing are identified as the main non-oil sectors to diversify its economy.

Journalist: José Belarmino De Sá

Editor: Rafy Belo


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