Dili, 14 May 2002


Donor countries and multilateral agencies gathered in Dili this morning for a two-day conference to discuss post-independence support for the economic program outlined by the East Timorese Government.

In opening remarks at today’s meeting, Special Representative of the Secretary-General Sergio Vieira de Mello called on the international community to remain engaged in East Timor after the territory becomes fully independent on 20 May.

“Targeted development assistance will be needed for many years to come if the East Timorese are to achieve the development goals they have set for themselves – in particular, to have a lasting impact on poverty and to improve the quality of life and well being of all East Timorese people,” the SRSG said.

President-elect Xanana Gusmão and Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri also made opening statements at the conference, and Minister for Foreign Affairs José Ramos-Horta chaired the presentation of the National Development Plan that includes strategies for poverty reduction and economic growth.

Representatives of 27 nations, the European Commission and a wide range of multilateral groups are attending the conference that will conclude tomorrow with a pledging session.

At a 13 May press conference both Alkatiri and Ramos-Horta expressed confidence that donors will meet the requirements outlined by the Government in its proposed budget approved last week. A total of US$90.9 million is being sought by the Government for direct budget support over the next three years.

Ministry of Finance officials say the budget delivers on the Government’s commitment at the Oslo Donor’s Conference in December 2001 to contain growth in medium-term expenditures and provide a plausible donor exit strategy from the provision of direct budget support.

The first Donors’ Meeting for East Timor was held in Tokyo in December 1999 and was followed by meetings in Lisbon (June 2000), Brussels (December 2000), Canberra (June 2001) and Oslo (December 2001).

A Background Paper for the Donors Meeting on East Timor is attached.