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East Timor: donors pledge $360 million to support three-year development plan

East Timor: donors pledge $360 million to support three-year development plan

Meeting at an event co-chaired by the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), governments and aid agencies today pledged over $360 million to support economic development in the soon-to-be independent nation over the next three years.

The assurances of aid announced at the end of the two-day donor conference comes on top of the $81 million already available through the Trust Fund for East Timor and the UNTAET successor mission, the UN Mission of Support in East Timor (UNMISET).

East Timor will now have access to over $440 million in international support for its three-year budget framework, which donors applauded for its emphasis on development.

Much of the conference concentrated on the government’s National Development Plan, which details a development strategy focusing on poverty reduction and growth in the social sectors, with high allocations to health and education.

“Our National Development Plan sets an ambitious path for our development,” East Timor’s Chief Minister Mari Alkatiri said in a statement released today. “Our challenge will be to ensure that we have the persistence to implement it and the flexibility to make changes and improvements as conditions allow.”

The World Bank noted in the statement that the composition of the financial plan is strongly pro-poor, with 48 per cent of the core budget allocated by 2005 to health and education. “This is one of the highest allocation to social sectors in the world, and is a concrete reflection of the government’s commitment to development in those areas,” said Klaus Rohland, World Bank Country Director for East Timor.

While cautioning on the need to maintain strong discipline on police and defence expenditures, delegates to the conference emphasized the importance of accelerating the government’s commitment to cost-recovery in the power sector and legislation to foster private sector growth, investment and job-creation.

Representatives of 27 countries, the European Commission and a wide range of multilateral groups attended the meeting, which was also co-chaired by the Second Transitional Government of East Timor and the World Bank.