The National Parliament has already approved the withdrawal of a total amount of $40 million US from the Petroleum Fund.
The Petroleum Fund is a public issue of great interest to the Timorese people. Soon after the press conference on the 8th of October 2007, we could see that some of our people’s Ministers/Members of Parliament, especially the Minister for Finance, Emilia Pires, MP Rui Menezes, MP Maria Paixao and lately MP Manuel Tilman, preoccupied themselves with other issues and sought to find much justification which has saddened us a little.
As such we need to clarify some things which these distinct people have stated in the plenary of the National Parliament and in the media, especially in relation to the “Petroleum Fund Consultative Council’s Initiative” and the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council report.
It is indeed correct that article 25, no. 2 of the Petroleum Fund Law 9-2005 states that: “The Petroleum Fund Consultative Council on its own initiative or upon request by the parliament shall furnish its opinion to the National Parliament as stated in line a, b and c.” Because of this we want to make the following clarification:
1) Immediately from the 6th of November 2006 when we began to perform our function we have always provided our opinions to the National Parliament through Committee C during the discussion of the General Budget of the State, such as:
- Opinion on proposed law no. 52/i/5a regarding the midterm revised budget of the General Budget of the State for the fiscal year 2006-2007 dated 14 February 2007.
- Report and opinion regarding our observations on the final midterm revised budget for the fiscal year 2006-2007 dated 1 March 2007.
- Our comments regarding the public consultation on the draft petroleum activity laws in Timor-Leste dated 30 March 2007.
Based on the above information we wish to state that this is the first time there has been a General Budget of the State for which we have not given our opinion because we have not been provided with documents such as the General Budget for the Transition period itself, sustainable income estimate and estimated actual income nor the independent auditors’ report as stated in article 8 of the Petroleum Fund Law 9-2005 which was not sent to the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council from the National Parliament.
2) The Petroleum Fund Consultative Council has already taken the initiative to meet with President of the National Parliament through contacting the Chief of Staff of the President of the National Parliament, Mr. Marcelino Magno, as well as by official letter from the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council dated 25 September 2007, No. KKFP/EXT/18/2007, with the object of presenting the function of the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council and the Council’s activities during the previous nine months. However, until now we have not received any response. Because there has been no response form the President of the National Parliament and also we have not received the necessary documents, the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council has not delivered its opinion.
3. The decision of the National Parliament to permit the withdrawal of funds in the sum of $40 million US violates articles 8, 9 and 25 of the Petroleum Fund Law.
In closing, we wish to reaffirm that which is looming as our preoccupation at this point in time, is that whenever funds are withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund, this should be done through the mechanism established by the Petroleum Fund Law because all of us want to demonstrate utmost transparency and accountability and we would like to demonstrate and intend to do the right thing for the young generation.
Dili, 10 October 2007
Signed by the following members of the Petroleum Fund Consultative Council
- Antero Bendito
- Aurelio Guterres
- Francisco Vasconcelos
- Maria Dias
- Nuno Rodrigues
- Oscar Lima
- Excellency Ms. Maria Paixão MP, Vice President of the National Parliament
- Excellency Mr. Manuel Tilman MP, President of Committee C
- Excellency Mr. Rui Menezes MP,
- Excellency Ms. Emilia Pires, Minister for Finance