Subject: News from East Timor 5 Feb 2001

Bahasa Indonesia Headlines Monday, 5 Feb 2001

  1. Ex-civil servants of Indonesia to be paid
  2. FDTL faces huge obstacles in becoming a professional force
  3. Bishop Belo Agrees With 30 August 2001 As The Election Date
  4. Dr Lucas da Costa: Timor Gap Watch Urgently Needed
  5. NGO Staff Urge UNTAET To Reconsider Income Tax

1. Ex-civil servants of Indonesia to be paid

Ex-civil servants of Indonesia will only get their pension and housing allowance payments from the Indonesian government. These payments will be made by Jakarta when there is a definite law from Indonesia with regard to ex-civil servants.

Anthony Goldstone, the deupty director of UNTAETs Political Affairs Department said this after returning from a meeting with the Indonesian government in Bali.

In accordance to what was discussed in Bali, the body paying the money will be the Indonesian Civil Service. We at UNTAET cannot really put a time-frame to this because there are certain administrative procedures that need to be followed up [with the Indonesians], said Goldstone.

He clarified that one of the requirements for the payments to be made was a letter from the Indonesian government stating the East Timorese services as civil servants were no longer required.

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2. FDTL faces huge obstacles in becoming a professional force

The Commander of FDTL (Forcas Defensa Timor Lorosae) Brigadier-General Jose Vasconselhos alias Taur Matan Ruak said there would be huge obstacles in the path of the national defence force towards professionalism. But as a soldier, he said, he was willing to take an risk.

In the name of my people and the country, we are ready to sacrifice ourselves. But we need to have lots of negotiations with developed countries to learn about their experiences on running a professional fighting force, said Taur at a Contingent Medal Parade of the Portuguese Battalion in front of the Transitional Administrators residence in Farol.

According to Taur, the FDTL in the worlds newest country faces big challenges in its geographical proximity with Indonesia and Australia.

I hope with the PKF here, they will be able to motivate FDTL troops to act in a more professional and mature manner, he added.

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3. Bishop Belo Agrees With 30 August 2001 As The Election Date

Dili Bishop, Mgr Carlos Filipie Ximenes Belo agreed with the UNs proposal that the general election be held on 30 August 2001. He also made an appeal to the National Council and UNTAET to make preparations towards that date.

If this is already the decision of the U.N Security Council, then lets get ourselves ready. We urge the National Council and UNTAET to make the necessary preparations, said Bishop Belo.

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4. Dr Lucas da Costa: Timor Gap Watch Urgently Needed

There needs to be an urgent follow-up to Bishop Belo's proposal that the Timor Gap Watch be set up. This is because there has been lack of transparency in all matters relating to the Timor Gap negotiations.

Dr Lucas da Costa, an economic analyst and commentator, said this in response to Bishop Belo's statement on Saturday that it was important for East Timor to have a Timor Gap Watch to closely monitor royalties due to the country.

Dr Lucas said, at the present moment, negotiations on the Timor Gap only involved the Ministry of Economy Dr Mari Alkatari. He stressed that large negotiations must involve more parties from various civil groups and different political perspectives.

If the Timor Gap management is incompetent, history will repeat itself here based on the experience in Africa where there are huge oil resources but the people still remain poor and marginalised, he said.

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5. NGO Staff Urge UNTAET To Reconsider Income Tax

Local NGO staff members in a joint press release to UNTAET urged the Transitional Cabinet and the National Council to reconsider income tax on workers imposed from 1 Jan. They also wanted further dialogues with UNTAET on the matter.

According to the tax regulation all those who earn less that USD100 are exempt from income tax. Those that earn between USD100 USD650 are taxed a flat 10 per cent. Those earning more than USD650 are taxed a maximum of 30 per cent.

This applies to all local staff and even to workers in international NGOs. But UNTAET and U.N agency staff are exempt from this tax.

The local NGO staff members have questioned the legitimacy of this tax regulation and the timing of its implementation. The press release also said that if local NGO staff members had to pay tax on their earnings, they must also must be given greater control and responsibilities over their work matters.

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