Subject: East Timor President angered by peace project closure
also Ramos-Horta urges AusAID to rethink funding cut
East Timor President angered by peace project closure
LINDSAY MURDOCH, DARWIN
June 10, 2010
EAST Timor's President Jose Ramos Horta has attacked international aid
agency AusAID for forcing the closure of what he says is one of his
country's few successful aid projects.
Dr Ramos Horta said he would tell Prime Minister Kevin Rudd when he met
him in Canberra later this month that the ''vast majority'' of donor aid
sent to East Timor was spent on consultants, study missions, reports and
In a blunt letter yesterday to Peter Heyward, Australia's ambassador
in Dili, Dr Ramos Horta called on AusAID to reverse its decision to cut
funding to a project operated by the Peace Dividend Trust that has
redirected at least $16 million to poor Timorese entrepreneurs.
Launched in 2007, the project centres around a ''Buy Local, Build
Timor-Leste'' campaign that matches international and national buyers
and domestic suppliers, thereby steering aid funds directly into the
Dr Ramos Horta said the project had changed the way the international
community operated in East Timor and provided ''unique critical services
that support our efforts to create employment and build a viable
economy. Unlike most donor-funded projects, it produces tangible
results, creates jobs and generates tax revenue.''
One of the project's main aims is to eliminate the role of international
companies with rich aid contracts and highly paid foreign consultants.
The process has been successfully replicated in Afghanistan and Haiti.
In his letter, which has been obtained by The Age, Dr Ramos Horta called
on AusAID to extend and boost its funding for the project and consider
adopting a ''Timor-Leste First'' policy for Australia's aid program.
The Peace Dividend Trust issued a statement this week saying its
matchmaking, training, marketing and tender distribution operations in
East Timor's 13 provinces would begin to be phased out from July 1
unless additional donor support could be found.
An AusAID spokeswoman told The Age that sometimes difficult decisions
had to be made about where to spend finite resources. She said AusAID
would provide funds so the Peace Dividend Trust project could link East
Timorese businesses to opportunities through a business directory data
base until mid-2011.
AusAID's decision to cut its funding for the project to only $120,000 in
2010-11 from a high of $1.2 million in 2007-8 coincides with a Rudd
government review of the use of foreign aid technical advisers and a
budget announcement that Australia's aid spending would more than double
to $8 billion by 2015.
Ramos-Horta urges AusAID to rethink funding cut
By Sara Everingham
Updated 9 hours 53 minutes ago
East Timor criticises Australia for aid cut (The World Today)
East Timor's president has criticised Australia's overseas aid
program for cutting funding to what he says is one of the few effective
aid projects in his country.
Dr Jose Ramos-Horta called for AusAID's decision to be reversed in a
letter to Australia's ambassador.
He says during his visit to Australia later this month he will tell
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd some home truths about what happens to a lot
of the international aid money sent to East Timor.
In particular, Dr Ramos-Horta is unhappy with AusAID's decision to cut
funding to a project run by the not-for-profit group Peace Dividend
He says the trust's marketplace project stands out because, unlike most
donor-funded projects, it produces tangible results such as creating
jobs for the East Timorese and is helping the nation's economy develop.
The project aims to steer foreign aid funds directly into the Timorese
economy and to reduce the amount spent on international companies and
"I'm very disappointed. They could at least have consulted with people
like me. They know I follow the issues here on Australian aid and other
donors' aid very closely," Dr Ramos-Horta said.
"This is how Australian taxpayers' money can really have an impact."
Program at risk
The founder of Peace Dividend Trust, Scott Gilmore, says in three years
$16 million has been redirected to poor Timorese entrepreneurs.
"So for example right now when an international company or the UN issues
a tender for contract we translate that and distribute it to Timorese
companies," he said.
"And then perhaps most importantly we work in the poorest rural areas
helping any international agency that happens to be operating out there
to buy their food and water locally, any goods they might need, as
opposed to having it brought in from overseas or buying it in the
capital of Dili."
Australia has spent about $600,000 on the project since August last
Mr Gilmore says the project is likely to shut down next month without
A spokeswoman for AusAID says Australia's aid to East Timor is focused
on areas of greatest need such as health and that difficult decisions
have to be made when allocating finite resources.
But last month the Australian Government said it would review the use of
Dr Ramos-Horta says the marketplace project is in line with Australia's
"Australia had made as one of the commitments to inject more money in
rural development, in rural communities," he said.
"The Peace Dividend Trust is the best channel so far that I know of in
this regard that would match Australian alleged priorities."
Australian aid cuts to East Timor under fire
Updated June 10, 2010 12:15:23
East Timor's President has written a letter to the Australian Ambassador
in East Timor criticising Australia's aid agency and calling for a new
direction in aid spending. Jose Ramos Horta has lambasted Canberra for
reducing the funding it provides for a grassroots organisation that
helps local entrepreneurs, while still spending millions on highly-paid
technical advisers. The Australian government recently announced it will
review its technical assistance program, which Canberra expects will
this year account for 38 per cent of the country's total aid spending.
Presenter: Stephanie March
Speaker: Scott Gilmore, founder of Peace Dividend Trust; Jose
Ramos-Horta, East Timorese President
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