|Subject: DPA: East Timor
joins IMF and World Bank
July 23, 2002, Tuesday
ROUNDUP: East Timor joins IMF and World Bank
East Timor, the world's youngest nation, joined the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank at a ceremony in the U.S. capital on Tuesday.
Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri signed the articles of agreement for the tiny, poverty-stricken country of 800,000 people to become the 184th member of the twin lending organizations.
Indonesian rule "has been impressive, yet the future holds many challenges".
"East Timor begins its life as one of the world's poorest countries. Achieving a sustained increase in prosperity will require sound economic management in order to establish the conditions for economic growth and stability - not least, by harnessing the benefits of future oil and gas revenues."
East Timor became a sovereign state, the Democratic Republic of East Timor, on May 20 after four centuries of Portuguese colonial rule and 24 years of often brutal Indonesian occupation.
Jakarta invaded the territory in 1975 and annexed it the following year. During an occupation marked by bloodshed, disease and starvation, some 200,000 people were killed.
An overwhelming vote for independence in a U.N.-organized ballot in August 1999 sparked an orgy of violence by troops and pro-Jakarta militias on the territory that borders Indonesian West Timor.
Thousands of people were killed, many more were driven from their homes, hundreds of women and girls were raped, and about three quarters of East Timor's infrastructure was destroyed.
After international peacekeepers intervened, Jakarta relinquished East Timor to the United Nations in October of the same year.
Alkatiri on Monday thanked the lending institutions and donor countries for helping East Timor since "we started our life from scratch after the black September of 1999".
More than 25 nations have since pledged some 440 million dollars over three years to develop a country the United Nations rates as among the world's poorest, alongside Angola, Bangladesh and Haiti.
More than half of all adults are illiterate, over half of infants are underweight and the average life expectancy is 57 years, according to the U.N. Development Programme.
Jemal-ud-din Kassum, vice president for the bank's East Asia and Pacific Region, said "the challenges ahead are immense" with more than two in five people living on less than 55 U.S. cents a day.
The World Bank has channelled aid to East Timor in the form of grants rather than loans, to allow the small nation to establish itself without a suffocating debt burden.
The country's "exit strategy" from aid dependency will be the oil and gas reserves in the Timor Gap, expected to net it at least 70 million dollars in 2004 and more after that, Alkatiri said.
But he added that "we will do everything possible to avoid being an oil-dependent country" by also developing sectors such as fisheries, tourism and organic farming of coffee and other crops. dpa fz mm
Kyodo News Service
July 24, 2002 Wednesday
MANILA, July 24
East Timor has become the newest member of the Asian Development Bank (ADB), a bank statement said Wednesday.
The Manila-based bank said East Timor officially became the bank's 61st member Tuesday. East Timor Foreign Minister Jose Ramos-Horta visited the bank's headquarters in Manila and met with ADB President Tadao Chino to discuss how the bank can help build East Timor as an independent country.
'Chino assured Ramos-Horta that ADB would continue to work closely with the government and donor partners to address poverty in East Timor, one of the poorest countries in Asia,' the statement said.
It said the bank plans to send a country-consultation mission to East Timor shortly to formulate a medium-term assistance program.
Although East Timor was not yet a member of ADB during the pre-independence period, the statement said, it was eligible to receive ADB technical assistance grants.
'Since 2000, ADB has approved 19 technical assistance projects for East Timor, amounting to $8 million. Such projects were for project preparation, capacity building, policy advice in key sectors and for economic management,' it said.
During the past years, the ADB also served as a co-administrator of the multi-donor Trust Fund for East Timor (TFET). The ADB also processed and supervised six TFET projects totaling $52.8 million, covering the restoration of physical infrastructure, particularly roads, ports, water supply and power facilities.
The bank also prepared and administered a TFET-financed microfinance project.
The ADB has a special liaison office in East Timor.
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