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Save the people’s money!

9 January 2007

Pamphlet published by the Coalition to Save the Money of the People and Nation


Link to original pamphlet (Tetum)

Link to parliamentarian pension law (Portuguese)

Link to ex-office holders pension law (Portuguese)

Dear fellow Timorese citizens!

Recently the National Parliament passed a law giving a pension for life for former members of parliament totaling 100% of their current salary and increasing along with the salaries of members of parliament still in office.

Besides that, this law requires the government to provide special benefits for them and their families such as:

  • Money for health treatment in Timor-Leste and overseas.

  • Tax exemption on importation of a personal car and materials to build a private house.

  • Diplomatic passport for them and their families (wife, husband and children) and special treatment (VIP) when they travel inside and outside the country, etc.

This proposed law was vetoed by President of the Republic Xanana Gusmão last week. However, He is only allowed to use his veto once, so when parliament sends him the bill a second time, the President has to approve it whether he likes it or not.

To persuade the president to approve the law, the parliament passed and sent him a new bill giving a pension and special privileges to former members of the national government, such as the former prime minister, former president of parliament, former president of the republic and former ministers.

The new bill establishes a pension for these ex-officials equal to their current salary and gives them special benefits such as:

  • A government house, a government car with fuel, a private secretary, an adviser, two telephones, internet access and a security person.

  • Tax exemption on car imports and building material for private use (for up to two houses)

  • A diplomatic passport and a VIP travel treatment (even when not on an official mission)

  • Two times a year, a paid intercontinental trip with two other people, and more…

Dear fellow Timorese citizens!

This is an outrage! The state must pay for these people to enjoy themselves even though they no longer work for the state.

Dear fellow Timorese citizens!

This law proves that the members of parliament don’t care about the crisis situation and the hardships small people face. They think only of themselves and the status of their families.

Just look at it! Members of the parliament only worry about their lives when they are no longer members. In fact, a lot of them are businessmen, lecturers, or have other possibilities to make money after they leave parliament.

Just look at it! Members of the parliament are not concerned about the people living in refugee camps, or Maubere people who struggle to find even one dollar because they can’t sell their products, or victims struggling to live who can’t pay for their kids to go to school because their father was killed by TNI or the militia, etc.

Actually, the current crisis should have opened parliamentarians’ eyes, ears and feelings to the troubles confronting our people, so that they would create laws to protect or subsidize local products, or to support young people who don’t have access to the benefits of development, or to give subsidies to for war victims to alleviate their suffering, or to fund transport facilities, or allocate funds for village chiefs who work very hard to organize people at the grassroots level or other important things which would strengthen the foundations of this nation, not just support the private interests of the leaders.

Think about it carefully! If your head is heavier than the legs which carry your head, then your head will fall one day.

Dear friends!

If this bill is passed, it is very dangerous and carries big consequences for our people and nation, including:

  • Parliament and government will not be a place to make and implement government policies; it will be the place to bring a few people into the upper class. People will become members of parliament or ministers because they want to increase their status and the status of their families, to be elite, doing nothing but receiving money and very special privileges.

  • A burden for the state’s finances! Indeed, increasing state expenses for something unproductive (which doesn’t serve the interests of the people or the nation). If in a few years, our small nation has to spend a lot of money, increasing every year, just to support ex-parliament members and ex-ministers and their families (their current monthly salary is about US $800-1,500), what will become of our country?

  • A burden for the people! If the government has no more money to pay for their pensions, the government will increase taxes on goods, and people who have to sustain their lives would have to buy goods at very expensive prices. According to the law, oil revenue can’t be used for expenses such as pensions. The oil revenue can only be used to pay for investments and services likes education, health and infrastructure.

  • Widen gaps between the poor and the elite. This law will enrich a small number of people, while impoverishing many others.

Dear friends!

In truth, a pension is part of the social policy of the state for people facing disadvantageous conditions or who cannot support themselves (who cannot find income-producing work). Now, let’s look at the members of parliament: most of them combine two jobs, one as parliamentarian and one as businessman, lecturer, etc. They have arms and legs and good opportunities to find jobs which will sustain their lives after they retire from parliament. It is true that one or two members of parliament are disadvantaged because their ability to work is limited by their old age. We think that the government should pay attention to their lives, but certainly not to all parliamentarians.

Actually, even though pensions result from social policy, in principle, pension money people receive should be from their own money that the state saved while they were working, depositing it in the bank. It did not work that way for our parliament. How come people who only worked for four or five years want to have pension money and a salary without working for the next 20 years. Where is the logic?

Some wealthy nations, like the USA, Australia or Portugal, give special privileges and subsidies for ex-parliament members. However, this is to compensate for their hard work to bring development and revenues to the State. Many times those officials work nights and days and even holidays. What about our members of parliament and government? In the last four years, how many laws have they made for public interest? During that period we saw through mass media that parliament has never taken the initiative to propose a law. On the contrary, all bills came from the government. During that time people also heard about neglectful members of parliament. We have never seen the parliament overseeing the government’s work in order to fight corruption and nepotism or to prevent the abuse of power that led to the crisis. Do parliamentarians deserve to receive pensions and special privileges for themselves and their families?

Dear fellow Timorese citizens!

This law shows us that our politicians misuse democracy. Democracy means that sovereignty resides in the people, and the political power we lend to the parliament should be used to serve the interests of the people – not an elite group. What our representatives have done with this law shows no consideration or respect for the owners of our state sovereignty, the people of Timor-Leste. That is why we consider this to be political corruption, as it is a law to benefit private interests. This shows us that this democracy is just a charade, and that in reality parliamentarians have returned to “Baino-cracy” (rule of an elite few).

To all Timorese citizens!

Demand that our representatives in Parliament respect the people’s right of sovereignty of this nation, that they make laws to serve the people’s interests, not their own private interests.

Let us save our own money (the nation’s money)!

Reject the lifetime pension laws for former Parliamentarians and office-holders!

This pamphlet is published by:

Coalition to Save the Money of the People and Nation

(La’o Hamutuk, HAK, DLO-NGO Forum, ETADEP, Fokupers, Haburas, AMKV, AJTL, Rede-Feto, MDI, SCM-TL, CSCB, Hasatil, Renetil, Belun, Aliansi Tribunal Internacional, Fisipol-UNTL)

Secretariat: Asosiasaun HAK, Farol-Dili

The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
P.O. Box 340, Dili, Timor-Leste
Tel: +670-3321040 or +670-77234330
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