2015 Timor-Leste Update Highlights

24 November 2015

2015 Timor-Leste Update ‘Terms of Inclusion’2015 Timor-Leste Update Session Abstracts Terms of Inclusion: A Political Entente Cordiale?

The evolving entente between the leaders of CNRT and FRETILIN, culminating in the formation of a new government in February 2015 that included a prime minister and ministers drawn from the official opposition party, has been widely – but not universally – applauded. Critics are variously uneasy that it diminishes the effectiveness of parliamentary opposition and executive accountability, and consolidates an elite bargain that could work against wider inclusion. How is the new government performing relative to its predecessors? Are the fears of the naysayers well-founded? How sustainable is this alliance over time?

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Terms of Inclusion: Timor-Leste in the Region

Looking beyond Timor-Leste’s borders, the terms of Timor-Leste’s inclusion in its immediate geographic region remain a work in progress. Membership of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) remains a high, although as yet unrealised, national priority. Relations with China are warm and growing. Political, economic and social relations with Timor-Leste’s large neighbour and former administering power Indonesia are close and interdependent. Looking eastwards, relations with Timor’s other large neighbour, Australia are cordial if not completely untroubled while links with Pacific Island countries have been sporadic. What are the key drivers of Timor Leste’s approach to its immediate region? How is policy decided in this area? Will the appointment of a new Prime Minister prompt any changes of approach?

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Terms of Inclusion: Major Regional Development Initiatives - Suai Tasi Mane Project and Oekussi Special Economic Zone

The Government of Timor-Leste has invested expansively in two substantial regional development initiatives designed to drive rapid economic development: the Tasi Mane petroleum infrastructure project on the south coast and the Oekusi Special Economic Zone, led respectively by former prime ministers Xanana Gusmao and Mari Alkatiri. Both projects promise significant economic benefits but involve significant dislocation of local populations as subsistence agriculture gives way to major economic and commercial infrastructure. What is the prospect of these projects delivering their anticipated returns, how will the benefits be distributed, and who will be the winners and losers in the development process?

For more information click on the following Discussion Papers:The Long Haul: Citizen Participation in Timor-Leste Land PolicyDispossession and Impoverishment in Timor-Leste: Potential Impacts of the Suai Supply Base

Terms of Inclusion: Distributional Equity and Public Policy

While Timor-Leste’s national income has grown rapidly, petroleum revenues are now declining and poverty levels remain the highest in the Asia Pacific region. Successive governments have invested heavily in social transfers and public infrastructure to reach out to disaffected constituencies (including ‘petitioners’ and veterans) and the disadvantaged (including single mothers and the elderly.) Yet questions remain about the sustainability of these schemes, as well as the extent to which they are reaching those most in need. What is the scope of these schemes and what is their impact? What challenges are faced in reaching disadvantaged groups? More broadly, what are the implications of current economic policies and strategies for questions of wealth distribution, inclusive growth, inequality and poverty? To what extent does the appointment of the new prime minister signal any change in approach?

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Terms of Inclusion: Women, Youth and Disability

While recent policies have helped to foster high levels of women’s participation in the national parliament, the fact that women remain disadvantaged vis a vis men on key social and economic indicators, and continue experience high levels of domestic violence, continues to constrain their participation in public and political life. That 60 percent of Timor-Leste’s population is under the age of 25 also highlights the importance of interventions that promote education, skills development and the participation of young people in society. It is also well-established that people with disabilities are seriously disadvantaged in Timor-Leste. To what extent are current laws and policies effectively addressing the underlying causes of social inequity? To what extent are they effectively promoting the participation of women, young people and people with disabilities in public and political life? Are these laws and policies addressing the diverse needs of urban and rural-based women and young people, and people with disabilities? Does the appointment of the new prime minister signal any change in approach?signal any change in approach?

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Terms of Inclusion: Wrap Up

Closing remarks from James Fox, Sue Ingram and Lia Kent

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