Subject: LUSA: Aid donors praise 'impressive progress', pledge continued support

East Timor: Aid donors praise 'impressive progress', pledge continued support

Dili, April 26 (Lusa) - Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri announced the creation Tuesday of five new state secretariats to aid East Timor's government assure the implementation of development and anti- poverty programs.

Alkatiri unveiled the initiative, which matches a new division of the country into five administrative regions, at the close of a two-day donors' conference that gave its blessing to Dili's accounts.

The new state secretariats, which take office July 1, aimed to "guarantee that (donor and state) money be well spent on that which is of real interest - assuring development and the fight against poverty", the prime minister told the conference.

The donors, led by the World Bank and key aid partners, like Portugal, applauded Dili's "impressive progress" in executing the government's National Development Program over the past year.

They also gave their blessing to the government's upcoming USD 250 million budget, pledging to cover the estimated 75% deficit, and praised the government's plans to set up a so-called Oil Fund to manage future revenues from Timor Sea oil and gas operations.

The donors pledged their support for Dili's plans to implement 17 Sector Investment Programs, covering projects ranging from public works to the construction of schools and hospitals and professional training for civil servants.

According to official Timorese documents, Portugal, the former colonial power, holds the top spot as a donor, having provided Dili with USD 199.2 million in aid since 1999, nearly USD 8 million more than second-ranked Japan.

EL/SAS.

Lusa

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