Meeting of the Council of Ministers of April 8, 2020

Presidency of the Council of Ministers

Eighth Constitutional Government


Press Release

Meeting of the Council of Ministers of April 8, 2020

The Council of Ministers met at the Dili Convention Center and approved the draft Decree-Law, presented by the Acting Minister of Finance, Sara Lobo Brites, which regulates the "COVID-19 Fund", established as an autonomous fund, integrated in the direct administration of the State, within the framework of the Ministry of Finance. The COVID-19 Fund aims to finance expenditure related to the prevention and fight against COVID-19. This Fund includes expenditure related to the acquisition of medicines, materials, medical equipment and essential goods, the installation and maintenance of quarantine and isolation sites, the training and operationalization of professionals involved in the prevention and fight against COVID-19, with social protection for victims of SARS-CoV-2 and other expenses related to the fight against the new coronavirus. The approval of measures to prevent and combat COVID-19 to be financed by the Fund will be previously approved by the Interministerial Commission for the Coordination of the Implementation of Measures for the Prevention and Control of the New Coronavirus Outbreak. The procurement process relating to expenditure financed by the Fund will be carried out in accordance with the Legal Provision Regime and the Public Procurement Code. The fund's management is the responsibility of the Management Board, which is chaired by the member of the Government responsible for finance and also composed of the members of the Government responsible for health and foreign affairs. The technical, administrative and logistical support necessary for the operation of the Fund will be provided by the Ministry of Finance.

The Minister of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation, Dionísio da Costa Babo Soares, presented a draft Government Resolution, approved by the Council of Ministers, for the grant of a subsidy to Timorese citizens residing abroad, scholarship holders and non-grantees, to deal with the pandemic of the new Coronavirus. In safeguarding public health and protecting the social and economic well-being of national citizens, this law establishes a mechanism for consular support and protection for Timorese citizens living abroad, who declare a proven lack of financial means to bear daily expenses and who depend on family income to subsist.

The Acting Minister of Finance also presented a draft deliberation, approved by the Council of Ministers, on the contract for the supervision of the rehabilitation work of the Hera-Manatuto road, a project financed by a loan from the Asian Development Bank and the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

The Council of Ministers approved an amendment to the Government Decree No.3/2020 of March 28 on the measures to implement the declaration of a state of emergency made by the Decree of the President of the Republic n. o 29/2020 of 27 March. With this change, the possibility of entry into national territory of citizens of any nationality will be temporarily suspended from Monday, April 13.

The Prime Minister, Taur Matan  Ruak and the members of the Situation Room, of the Integrated Crisis Management Centre (CIFG), gave a presentation to the Council of Ministers on the state of play of activities and the strategy for preventing and combating COVID-19. The four operational objectives to maintain or reduce the spread rate of COVID-19 were presented: ensuring adequate quarantine for all citizens arriving in Timor-Leste and people who have had contact with positive cases of SAR-CoV-2; identification of suspected cases, laboratory tests and isolation of covid-19 positive cases; preparation of isolation and treatment sites, at the level of the acquisition of equipment, medicines and facilities, and mobilization and training of human resources; and strengthening of containment measures, such as personal hygiene, social and physical distancing and voluntary confinement. CIFG members  also informed the Council of Ministers that between 1 March and 7 April 2020, there were a total of 1726 people who were monitored, 1072 people in mandatory confinement at the 29 quarantine sites prepared by the Government and 654 people in self-quarantine in their homes. There are also a total of 818 people (164 from mandatory quarantine sites and 654 in self-quarantine) who have already completed the 14-day quarantine period and received a certificate from the Ministry of Health. The main short-term priorities were also presented, such as the preparation of new mandatory confinement spaces, the preparation of a field hospital for isolation and treatment in Tasitolu, the improvement of laboratory capacity and the improvement of the conditions of quarantine sites. Next Friday, the analysis will be presented to the first fourteen days of the state of emergency.

The Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, made a presentation to the Council of Ministers on the economic plan in response to the negative implications caused by COVID-19 in the national economy. The package of measures is divided into eight main areas and includes measures relating to the distribution of essential goods, credit lines, tax exemptions and subsidies for citizens. The first area of this package of measures is related to connectivity and aims to ensure the continuity of the supply of maritime and air transport in order to ensure the national supply of goods. The second area concerns the distribution of essential goods, in particular food, medicines and clinical equipment, through reimbursement, supply and distribution of essential goods by the Government. The third area of activity refers to the guarantee of continuity of the supply of telecommunications service, namely with the Government subsidizing internet access to students and teachers. The fourth refers to tax relief measures, such as the postponement or temporary suspension of tax obligations, in order to ease the burden on businesses and consumers and provide them with liquidity. Next, the fifth area of activity concerns utilities, with the participation or suspension of payment of electricity and water supply services.  The sixth area concerns public expenditure and aims to speed up the implementation of public expenditure already budgeted, in particular by anticipating the payment of salaries, social benefits, subsidies and amounts contractually provided for in procurement procedures. The seventh area relates to the creation of credit lines with reduced rates. The eighth, and last area of activity, refers to direct assistance, namely with direct support to the population and companies, with the objective of ensuring that the family maintains an income of 100 U.S. dollars per month, with the provision of a salary contribution to employers to subsidize 30,000 workers, with exemptions from payment of social security contributions by workers and employers and with exemption from payment of rents, in state properties.

The Council of Ministers decided to grant tolerance days-off to all officials and agents of ministries or services dependent on them, as well as institutes and bodies integrated in indirect state administration, on Thursday, April 9 and Monday, April 13. ENDS