Subject: LUSA: Ambitious development plan sees 7% growth by 2010

04-04-2006 12:02:00. Fonte LUSA. Notícia SIR-7879804 Temas:

East Timor: Ambitious development plan sees 7% growth by 2010

Dili, April 4 (Lusa) - Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri unveiled an ambitious anti-poverty development program for East Timor Tuesday at an international donors' conference, forecasting annual economic growth of 7% by 2010.

Alkatiri said the basis for such expansion would lie primarily in government spending on basic infrastructures for Asia's youngest and poorest country as its private sector remained weak.

The government, he said, was budgeting US$ 82 million, an increase of 75% over the previous year, for infrastructure spending for the 2006-2007 fiscal year and planned to create a semi-public agriculture credit bank to aid farmers with micro-credits.

The country's current growth rate is of 2.3%.

Among infrastructure priorities, which are also aimed to generate employment, Alakatiri pointed to the building of roads and bridges, health clinics and schools, and power and water distribution systems.

An estimated 75% of the country's infrastructures were destroyed by withdrawing Indonesian occupation forces and proxy militias after East Timor's UN-sponsored independence plebiscite in 1999.

Alkatiri asked Dili's aid partners to "please" not prematurely criticize his development strategy as involving too much state initiative.

"In our opinion, the private Timorese sector will not manage, without partnership with others, to execute all the projects that the government has identified as priorities", he said.

The government, he added, planned to ready conditions and open international tenders to attract foreign investors.

Construction contracts, he said, would require that 50% of jobs go to Timorese and the larger projects would oblige 30% sub- contracting to Timorese companies.

President Xanana Gusmão also addressed the opening session of the day-long donors' conference, placing emphasis on the role of private initiative in fostering development and reducing poverty.

"The combat against poverty can only be launched with the participation of the private sector", Gusmão said.

The president also called for "transparency" in the awarding of contracts and urged the restructuring of the state's purchasing department, saying it was frequently accused of being a "nest of corruption.



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