Government and National Parliament discuss economic recovery measures

Tue. 20 of Outubro of 2020, 12:34h

The Government, through the Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, Fidelis Manuel Leite Magalhães, representing the Prime Minister, Taur Matan Ruak, and accompanied by members of the 8th Constitutional Government, presented the Economic Recovery Plan to the National Parliament, today, October 20th, 2020.

During the plenary session, members of the Government and the National Parliament discussed the results of the economic stimulus and response package to face the negative effects of coronavirus on the economy, approved in April 2020, composed of 19 strategic measures to support families and companies, and discussed the Economic Recovery Plan, composed of 71 short- and medium-term measures, to recover the national economy, affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, but also with aiming at designing public policy measures that help the necessary national economic and social transformation, to make Timor-Leste not only a country with a higher income but also a more developed country, with greater human well-being.

The Minister of the Presidency of the Council of Ministers, in his speech at the debate opening began by saying that “during the year 2020, our country faced historical and unprecedented challenges”, having entered “the year under crippling budget constraints.”, due to the “extraordinary political deadlock” and COVID-19, declared an international pandemic in February and with Timor-Leste registering the first case in late March.

The Minister recalled that “Timor-Leste is one of only 23 countries with no COVID-19 deaths”, allowing “our citizens to have, more or less, resumed life as normal”, while “we see other countries, both rich and poor, suffering through this pandemic, facing growing death tolls, and suffering through a repeated lockdown and political infighting ", a "scenario that many expected here too ".

"We should be considered an international success story in how our country has dealt with and responded to the crisis. Today life in Timor-Leste has practically returned to normal. This is not the case in Europe. This is not the case in North America. This is not the case in South America. And unfortunately, this is not the case in South Asia and several parts of Asia", highlighted the Minister.

Fidelis Magalhães stated that " The upward revision of growth forecasts for Timor-Leste reveals that the government’s intervention has been in the right direction", is that “at the start of the pandemic, the international community (…) predicted Timor-Leste may struggle the most health wise and economically, and their numbers indicated the second highest levels of risk for Timor-Leste in the entire region.”. This did not happen, with the Government “in a very short period of time” mobilizing “$ US $ 91.7 million to implement 19 diverse economic response measures.

“With no measures or even a late and mild response from the government, human loss and sick people from Covid-19 would have severely affected families, society and the economy, while adversely raising income poverty levels and inequality”, highlighted the Minister, adding that “we have managed to control a ‘perfect storm’ and the deepest economic shock in our history since independence because of bold policy action and most importantly a strong political consensus”.

Regarding the economic recovery plan, the Minister informed the members of the National Parliament that “The plan combines 71 short and medium-term measures to be implemented by the 8th Constitutional Government, by 2023”, “with a focus on agriculture, tourism, housing, education, health, social protection, and institutional reform”, in a “a first stage aiming to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 through short-term responses”, focused “on avoiding job losses, supporting households, and preventing firm closures – with a view to sustain consumption levels and living standards” and in a “a second stage with medium-term measures aimed at the economic recovery (covering a period of 2-3 years)”, seeking to “to respond to the challenges caused by the pandemic, but also structural weaknesses”.

In the long run, Fidelis Magalhães stated that the Government’s political priorities “expand the broader economic objectives of the Program of the Eight Constitutional Government, in order to build a trajectory of stronger sustainable growth and equitable development”, with a macroeconomic policy of the Government “more supportive of the development of productive sectors (agriculture, tourism, oil and minerals and manufacturing), promotion of private sector investment, and strengthening our fiscal sustainability and financial industry”. Policies will be reinforced and deployed to ensure the implementation of actions and strategies for sustainable growth and equitable development throughout the country.