Comment by KETA MEHI on "Timor-Leste predicted to be one of the top ten fastest growing economies for 2011"

The AMP gov has spent billions of dollars (thanks to the Petroleum Fund set up by the previous gov) during its 3 years of government. By comparison, the amount of money spent by the previous government around the same period is only a small fraction, owing mostly to the fact that the petroleum revenue was largely absent.

But the previous government was able to achieve so much more with so little money than what AMP has been able to do with billions of dollars. If the previous government continued in the government, with this large amount of money, it is certain that much more people will be taken out of poverty and more social justice is achieved. The current government is in fact only continuing with the programs that the previous government has put forward, but lack of experience, abuse of power and corruption have prevented it to achieve better outcomes relative to the amount of resource at its disposal.

Economic growth also doesn't mean much, especially in the presence of high inflation, low real investment (bad roads, bad schools, etc.), high consumption, huge current account (trade) deficit and high and persistent inequality.

The AMP may have "lifted" a fraction of people out of poverty, but what does this mean? In the presence of so much inequality, we can conclude that yes, it did reduce the absolute poverty, but not relative poverty.

The amount of cash disbursed by the government has made sure that more people have money in their pockets. But this is an unsustainable policy because the money disbursed is not an investment with returns in the future. The money is quickly consumed. At issue is also the creation of a dependency culture and a client elistic culture, where governments use state resources (money) to buy the people's continued support. In TL this is unsustainable because the only revenue that can fund this practice is the Petroleum Fund. The Petroleum Fund will exhaust in the near future.

When the Fund finally runs out, the State will have nothing else to continue with this policy and people will get back to where it once were.

People are absolutely better off thanks to the large amount of money transferred from the State. But most people are relatively poorer because of income inequality. The rich are getting much richer, the poor are getting a little bit better. The rich are getting richer because of government's policy which discriminates against the poor. Corruption plays a huge part in this.

The way that the government favours only a small group of friends with the award of million dollar projects has somehow managed to trickle down to the poor and raised some of them out of poverty. But is this enough? Of course not. Where is the justice in this? Why does the majority of people are only getting crumbs while the AMP government reserves the whole feast to the elites? Did the people suffer under the Indonesian occupation so that only a handful of people can enjoy the promises of independence? No. And I believe most people are against this. The wealth of the nation should be divided equally and opportunities given equally to everyone.

Besides, the widening gap between the poor majority and the hand full of rich elites will only lead to an unsustainable development path. Social injustice will breed instability, raise crime statistics, and ultimately a failed state.

In the end, if you want to see the 9% poverty reduction propagated by AMP's propaganda machine, you should travel to the suburbs of Aitarak Laran, Fatuhada, Kaikoli, Surik Mas, parts of Becora, Maloa, etc. These are hotspots because of poverty and unemployment. But this is only in Dili. The situation is much worse in the districts where children are only getting one meal a day, the cost of living has gone beyond the reach of most poor people (e.g. the cost of a sack or rice), schools have no conditions, the road system is bad and isolate many poor rural communities from the rest, money is scarce and basic health services is inadequate. By contrast, you find the small Dili elite (ministers and members of parliament like Mates de Jeusu driving luxury cars, earning big salaries, travel abroad in business class frequently, holidaying in Bali whenever they can take time off work, with their children frequenting the Dili International School (e.g. Xanana's children) or the Portuguese School, etc.

Don't you think it's a bit absurd that the ministers and their families receive medical treatment abroad (Singapore, Australia or Indonesia)? What's wrong with TL's hospitals? Aren't they good enough for the ministers and the members of government? Why are their children being enrolled in Australian or Portuguese schools? Aren't the local schools good enough for them? The answer is yes, the services provided by the state are not good enough for them. But they are able to make sure that the state funds their lifestyles by sending them and their families to the best facilities possible.

So, 9% poverty reduction and an economy growing at one of the fastest rate in the world? Whose poverty is being reduced? Whose economy is growing? Who is benefiting from this charade? You would be crazy to believe in AMP propaganda.

1 comment:

  1. What a load of SAMBUKAS......Fretilin is finished, buddy......Next years elections will be the confirmation of this.