Subject: Corruption in Office of Secretary of State for Professional
Training and Employment
Timor Post: Corruption in Office of Secretary of State for Professional Training and Employment
TRANSLATION FROM ORIGINAL TETUM ARTICLE (This is the person in the AMP government who will be responsible to implement the host worker program with Western Australia) TIMOR POST, 6 August 2008
LABEH: The Office of His Excellency Bendito is full of KKN (Indonesian Acronym for Corruption, Collusion and Nepotism)
Bendito: "This is to bring me down" DILI – The Non Government Organization (NGO) Lalenok ba Ema Hotu (LABEH) (Tetum: "Mirror for Everyone") yesterday released a report stating there are indications of maladministration and indications of corruption, collusion and nepotism ("KKN") in the office of the Secretary of State for Professional Training and Employment (SEFPE).
The report from monitoring undertaken by LABEH commencing from the month of April until August this year was delivered directly by LABEH Director, Dr. Christopher Henry Samson to the Secretary of State for Professional Training and Employment, Bendito Freitas.
Before delivering the report indicating maladministration to Bendito, Christopher read out the details that LABEH uncovered from civil society and SEFPE officers themselves that the acts of maladministration by the SEFPE Bendito engaged in were: using a government vehicle to convey his wife to Liquica; some officers working in the SEFPE office were relatives of Secretary of State Bendito; utilization of state budget totaling $100,240.00 for the $2 work per day project buying work equipment such as hoes, steel, shovels, pliers, machetes and other things but these were not distributed to population in the districts of Baucau, Viqueque and Lautem.
Other accusations leveled by LABEH indicated that the SEFPE: engaged in nepotism in his workplace whereby only members of his family were recruited to work in the SEFPE office; and after the recruitment process for workers, many of his family members emerged as employees in SEFPE.
"The worst indication is that the SEFEP office used a budget worth $100,240 allocated for the Districts of Baucau, Viqueque and Lautem whereby the moneys intended to be used to acquire equipment to be used in the $2 work per day project but the moneys were in fact used for some other unknown purpose because it is all fiction," stated Dr. Christopher, who was accompanied by SEFPE Bendito.
In the report, the LABEH Director also provided information of an allegation of corruption which emerged in the Office of the Ministry for Social Solidarity involving a transfer to the SEFPE from Ministry of Social Solidarity of Portuguese government funds in the amount of $35,780.oo for the purchase of a vehicle for the SEFPE but which was used instead to hire vehicles.
"A case of maladministration is one involving $35,780.00 of cooperation funds between the Ministry of Social Solidarity and Portugal given to the Ministry of Solidarity to acquire transport, but it is said that these funds were not used to buy a vehicle but instead was used to rent vehicles," Christopher affirmed.
He said that as an anti corruption NGO LABEH was disappointed with institutions like the PDHJ and Prosecutor and Inspector Generals who remained silent and do not investigate corruption and maladministration cases that emerge in TL.
"There are many corrupt people emerging now in TL, because the responsible institutions never undertake in dept investigations to show the public whether there is a lot of corruption in TL," he questioned.
In the same instance, the SEFPE, Bendito Freitas informed that the accusations made by LABEH against his Office was not supported by strong evidence because his office has never engaged in maladministration and corruption and did not recruit only members of his family as staff in his office.
"LABEHs report has no basis and has no strong evidence that I can see from the accusations to bring me down. But the government thanks LABEHs initiative to control and battle government corruption."
"For us these accusations serve to give more credence to the private sector's participation in combating corruption so as to promote public transparency and accountability and we will rectify our work to become better. According to Bendito, the Labeh report which indicates that the SEFPE did not use the funds in the amount of $100,240.00 for the $2 a day project to acquire equipment for the Districts of Baucau, Vikeke and Lautem is incorrect.
According to Bendito the equipment was distributed late because the state budget was approved late. Because of this the government was unable to distribute the equipment referred to the people, he said.
"In the first instance the accusations said we used the funds totaling $100,240.00 allocated to acquire equipment for the $2 a day project in Baucau, Viqueque and Lospalos districts, was not that we did not have it. But the transitional budget approval process was late and the procurement process was late too and the implementation of the $2 a day project had finished. Because of this that the communities did not receive the equipment, but the equipment for them is being delivered this week because the revised budget has been approved," SE Bendito explained.
SEFPE Bendito also rejected the Labeh report in regard to use of the $37,780.00 to acquire a vehicle. "To say that we hired a vehicle is also wrong because this money that came from the Portuguese cooperation was to support the SEFPE to use to buy a vehicle because the vehicle had already been purchased, and we had not hired it."
"Dr. Christopher said we used the Money $37,780.00 for acquiring a vehicle instead to hire a vehicle is also wrong. Because the money that was given by Portuguese cooperation to support the SEFPE to use for vehicles. This vehicle we already had, we did not hire it," he said.
Bendito said that the recommendations in the Labeh report are incorrect because of incorrect information.
Bendito said, he will meet with the directors and all the staff to enable him to consolidate and better the work of the SEFPE and the information regarding these accusations because sometimes it is because information is not complete so some people flippantly make accusations against the SEFPE.
"I want to speak about the information that many of my family work for me and that many of my family travel overseas. All this is incorrect because my family does not make up all the 2000 people. But during recruitment I selected my Chief of Staff from Baucau, my driver from Bobonaro, and my secretary from same and some from Same, because if there is there is maybe only one member of my family as people will be able to see for themselves," he said.
For their part the Deputy Porvedor * for Anti Corruption and Good Governance PDHJ, Amândio de Sa Benevides said that the Provedor's Office is yet to receive a complaint regarding allegations involving a case of maladministration in the SEFPE. But the PDHJ will undertake an in depth investigation of the relevant evidence and facts.
He said that if the PDHJ starts an investigation and it finds indicia of maladministration or corruption it will make recommendations to the prosecutor general.
"The Provedor has not yet received information, but we will yet undertake an in depth investigation regarding the information and allegations pointed to by Labeh in order to find any relevant facts and in depth evidence in order to be able to recommend anything to the Prosecutor according to law," assured Amandio.
Responding to the statements by Labeh Director that the PDHJ never works to investigate corruption in TL, the deputy Provedor Amandio said that you cannot say that the PDHJ does not work. But to be able to work on corruption investigations in TL the PDHJ itself still lacks investigators and equipment and financial resources are still insufficient.
"The Provedor cannot speak about all corruption in TL, because we lack investigators and also finances. We also ask but the government has not increased funding for the lack of transport and equipment. But we continue to do the work despite the PDHJ lacking in many things which the government has failed to attend to."
"Labeh has spoken a lot about us not doing our work, but they do not understand the difficulties we confront, because by rights they should be requesting the government to increase our funding so that we can capacitate our people to train and increase the number of corruption investigators," he said. (ego)
Footnote: * Provedor (in English Ombudsman) for Human Rights and Justice (known by the Portuguese acronym "PDHJ") is constitutionally mandated as the anti-corruption investigation and recommendation functions amongst other roles.