Subject: Lusa: Gusmao calls for committee to ready, encourage foreign investment


11-07-2002 11:53:00 GMT 

East Timor: Gusmao calls for committee to ready, encourage foreign investment

President Xanana Gusmao called Thursday for the creation of a "committee for foreign investment" in East Timor to help stabilize the new nation's import-dependent economy and encourage investment.

Gusmao made the suggestion at the International Economic Forum taking place in Darwin, Australia.

In a speech, he noted that East Timor depended on imports for about 70 percent of its basic needs, including staple rice, and required a strategy of incentives to attract investors.

A "committee for foreign investment", he said, could "define priorities, promote (investment) viability studies, define appropriate industrial zones, and mobilize investors to reach the objectives" of Dili's economic plan.

In a related development, the government debated a preliminary study in Dili Wednesday on ownership legislation and registration of properties, an issue Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri has described as "urgent" to encourage investment.

Following the wave of pro-Indonesia militia violence in 1999 and the country's May 20 independence, hundreds of properties were abandoned in East Timor, many of which are now illegally occupied or under doubt as to ownership.


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