Petition Urges Government of Timor-Leste Not to Borrow
A petition calling on the government of Timor-Leste "to keep the nation debt-free" was delivered to the National Parliament. The parliament is currently debating the 2012 budget, which contains provisions authorizing the borrowing of $43 million.
November 24, 2011 (Newswire.com) -
Juvinal Dias (Timor-Leste), +670-734-8703
John M. Miller (USA), +1-718-596-7668
November 25 - A petition calling on the government of Timor-Leste "to keep the nation debt-free and refrain from borrowing from international lenders," was delivered to the National Parliament today. The parliament is currently debating the 2012 budget, which contains provisions authorizing the borrowing of $43 million dollars.
More than 750 people from more than 45 countries have signed the online petition so far, including dozens of East Timorese.
"We plan to keep collecting signatures. As long time supporters of independence for Timor-Leste, we are concerned that the country not mortgage its future to international banks and financial institutions," said John M. Miller, National Coordinator of the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (ETAN), a sponsor of the petition.
"A decade from now, as we are repaying loans we have already spent, our population will be larger, and our shrinking oil revenues will be stretched thin. Tomorrow's children will receive worse education and health care because today's leaders may have wasted money on questionable mega-projects," said Juvinal Dias of La'o Hamutuk, a member Timor-Leste's Movimento Kontra Deve, the other petition sponsor. "This is an aspect of the resource curse which it is not too late to avoid."
"We come from many countries, including those that have experienced onerous conditions that placed a priority on repaying loans over the needs of our people. Others of us come from nations that have imposed those conditions," the petition says. "We have seen how too many developing countries have struggled with debt. We urge Timor-Leste to learn from their experiences."
A petition signer from Sierra Leone commented: "I don't [want] East Timor to make the same mistake like my own West African country of origin... I hope Timor will learn from the mistakes of other developing countries that are eternally indebted to the West."
A Timorese signer wrote "We don't need that loan. We have enough resources and wealth. What we need is healthy management and policies."
Signatures can be viewed online at http://www.gopetition.com/petitions/support-a-debt-free-timor-leste.html
The Government of Timor-Leste is currently free of debt. Despite current substantial income from petroleum resources, the government has asked parliament to approve its first international loans.
In September, more than 137 organizations based in 32 countries endorsed a statement that urged "the government of Timor-Leste to keep the nation debt-free and refrain from borrowing money from international lenders.... to protect its future generations." The groups argued that "Rather than repeat the mistakes of other developing countries that have struggled with debt during recent decades, Timor-Leste should learn from their experiences, which often inflicted great hardships on their people." [see http://etan.org/news/2011/08debt.htm or http://laohamutuk.org/econ/debt/2011/11ETANMKDStmt5Sep2011.htm ]
This petition is a joint project of the Movimento Kontra Deve, a coalition of civil society organizations in Timor-Leste opposed to their country taking out loans, and the East Timor and Indonesia Action Network (www.etan.org), a 20-year old U.S.-based group working in solidarity with the people of Timor-Leste.
Additional background on Timor-Leste and borrowing can be found in English at http://www.laohamutuk.org/econ/debt/09Borrowing.htm and Tetum: http://www.laohamutuk.org/econ/debt/09BorrowingTe.htm
Categories: Foreign Government