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Click here for additional analysis, documents and links related to the 2008 Mid-year Budget iha lian Tetun no English..

Timor-Leste Appeals Court Invalidates 2008 State Budget

4 December 2008

On 13 November 2008, three judges of the Timor Leste Appeals Court issued a unanimous ruling regarding the $788 million mid-year budget which had been passed by Parliament and promulgated on 5 August 2008. In response to a case brought by 16 Members of Parliament, the Court ruled as follows:

  1. The $240 million dollar Economic Support Fund violates Timor-Leste’s Constitutional prohibition against secret budgets (Article 145.2) and Parliament’s power to oversee budgetary operations (Articles 95.2(q) and 115(d)).

  2. The Budget’s withdrawal of $290.7 million more than the Estimated Sustainable Income (ESI, $396.1 million) from the Petroleum Fund is illegal because it violates the 2005 Petroleum Fund Law’s requirements that petroleum resources must be managed for the benefit of current and future generations. The Government failed to meet the requirements of Articles 8 and 9 of that law to provide a detailed explanation of why it’s in Timor-Leste’s long-term interests to spend more than the ESI.

  3. In order to preserve the certainty and security of the state, the effective date of the ruling is the date of its submission of Parliament. As of 13 November, the Economic Stabilization Fund must stop and no money can be withdrawn above the ESI.

  4. The court rejected plaintiffs’ arguments that parliamentary procedures and chairing during the budget debate unconstitutionally violated Parliament’s powers.

  5. The court rejected plaintiffs’ argument that allocating 97% of the budget to the Government, with much small amounts for Parliament, President and judiciary, violates the Constitutional separation of powers.

The case was filed on 29 August by 16 Parliamentarians from the Fretilin, PUN and Kota parties.

The decision was signed by judges Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa (acting President), Cláudio Ximenes, and José Luis da Goia. Although the decision is dated 27 October, Judge Rosa's cover letter to Parliament was originally dated 11 November and amended to 13 November. It will likely be published in the official Jornal da Republica during the week of 17 November. However, the decision states that it is effective as of the date it was sent to Parliament.

Local media coverage of the court ruling has been inconsistent – it was a banner headline in the 14 November Timor Post, less prominent on Diario’s front page, and not mentioned in Suara Timor-Leste until the next day, or on TVTL's evening news the following two nights.

After the court ruling was sent to Parliament, partisan political accusations from both sides overshadowed the important legal issues discussed by the court. See, for example, Fretilin's 13 November press release and the response (also Portuguese, Tetum) the following day from Secretary of State for the Council of Ministers Agio Pereira, and Fretilin's rebuttal on the 16th. We have decided not to post the many partisan press releases which have followed.

Civil society has also been outspoken, with statements from La'o Hamutuk (Tetum)HAK (also Tetum), JSMP  (also Tetum or Indonesian), and an NGO Forum Coalition (also Tetum).

Shortly after the decision was issued, the Superior Council for the Judiciary (Judicial Magistrate's Council) decided not to renew the contract of Portuguese Judge Ivo Rosa, the principal author of the decision. Judge Rosa worked as a District Court judge in Timor-Leste starting in late 2006, before being elevated to the Appeals Court in March 2008. As a UNDP-paid consultant, his contract was renewed every six months, but will expire at the end of 2008. Since Superior Council interim President Dionisio Babo is also Secretary-General of CNRT (the Prime Minister's political party), some believe that this represents political interference in the court system. (Link to ABC radio program with Babo and La'o Hamutuk's Adino Nunes.)

La'o Hamutuk will continue to focus on the substance of the ruling and how the Constitutional rule of law must be preserved in Timor-Leste, with respect for the sovereignty of the organs of the State, and we encourage others to do the same.

On 18 November, President of Parliament Fernando La Sama Araujo petitioned the court to reverse its decision.

As of early November, the Government had withdrawn $220 million from the Petroleum Fund in 2008, $140 million in the third quarter and $80 million in October. They asked for $80 million more in November, but it had not yet been transferred. Although the budget unconstitutionally authorized a total withdrawal during 2008 of $686.8 million, the court’s ruling limits this to $396.1 million. It is not clear whether that is sufficient to satisfy the Government’s cash needs for 2008, as many budgetary commitments may not be fulfilled.

From January through September 2008, the Government had spent $218.6 million (including $14.7 million from the Economic Stabilization Fund). An additional $237.6 million has been obligated or committed. Unofficial information indicates that several tens of millions additional were spent from the Economic Stabilization Fund just before the court ruled.

La’o Hamutuk continues to follow this issue, and will post more information and translations as they become available.

Tribunal Rekursu Timor-Leste Invalida Orsamentu Estadu 2008

24 Novembru 2008

Iha loron 13 Novembru 2008, juiz tolu husi Tribunal Rekursu Timor-Leste nian fo sai desijaun unanimidade ida kona ba orsamentu rektifikativu hamutuk tokon $788 ne’ebé passa ona husi Parlamentu no promulga iha loron 5 fulan Agostu, tinan 2008. Nudar resposta ba kazu ida ne’ebé foti husi Deputado 16, Tribunal deside hanesan tuir mai ne’e:

  1. Osan tokon $240 ba Fundu Estabilizasaun Ekonomia nian viola Konstituisaun Timor-Leste nian ne’ebé bandu atu labele iha orsamentu segredu (Artiklu 145.2) no poder parlamentu nian atu tau matan ba operasaun orsamentu nian (Artiklu 95.2(q) no 115(d)).

  2. Hasai osan tokon $290.7 barak liu Estimasaun Rendimentu Sustentável nian (ESI, tokon $396.1) husi Fundu Petróleu ne’e ilegal tanba viola rekerimentu husi Lei Fundu Petróleu 2005 katak rekursu petróleu nian tenki maneja ba benefísiu jerasaun ohin no mós aban bainrua nian. Governu faila atu responde ba rekerimentu husi artiklu 8 no 9 lei ne’e nian atu fo esplikasaun ida ne’ebé detaila tanba sa mak gasta osan liu husi rendimentu sustentável ne’e tuir duni interese tempu naruk Timor-Leste nian.

  3. Ho objektivu atu mantein serteza no seguransa nasaun nian, data efektivu husi desijaun ne’e nian mak data wainhira entrega submissaun ne’e ba Parlamentu. Komesa 13 Novembru, Fundu Estabilizasaun Ekonomia tenki hapara no laiha osan ne’ebé bele hasai boot liu ESI.

  4. Tribunal rejeita argumentu husi parte ne’ebé halo akujasaun katak prosedur no lideransa durante debate orsamentu nian inkonstitusionalmente viola poder Parlamentu nian.

  5. Tribunal rejeita argumentu husi parte ne’ebé halo akujasaun katak aloka orsamentu 97% ba governu, ho montante ne’ebé uitoan deit ba Parlamentu, Prezidente no Judisiariu, viola separasaun poder tuir Konstituisaun haktuir.

Kazu ne’e entrega iha loron 29 Agostu husi membru Parlamentu Nasional nain 16 husi Partidu Fretilin, PUN no Kota.

Desijaun ne’e hetan asina husi juiz Ivo Nelson de Caires Batista Rosa (Prezidente Interino), Claudio Ximenes, no José Luis da Goia. Maski desijaun ne’e ho data 27 Outubro, Juiz Rosa nian karta ba Parlamentu originalmente iha data 11 Novembru no amenda ba 13 Novembru. Parese sei publika durante semana komesa husi loron 17 ne’e. Maibe, desijaun ne’e afirma katak nia efektivu iha data ne’ebé haruka ba Parlamentu Nasional.

Media lokal nia kobertura kona ba desijaun tribunal nian ne’e ladun konsistente – iha headline iha Timor Post 14 Novembru, ladun sai makas iha pájina primeiru Diario nian, no la temi iha Suara Timor-Leste depois de loron ida, ka iha TVTL nia notisias kalan nian iha kalan rua tutuir nia.

Hafoin desijaun tribunal ne’e haruka ba Parlamentu, akujasaun polítika partidária husi parte rua domina tiha issue legal importante liu ne’ebé tribunal diskute. Hare, pur ezemplu, deklarasaun imprensa Fretilin nian loron 13 Novembru no resposta (iha mós Portuguese, Inggris) iha loron tuir fali mai husi Sekretáriu Estadu ba Konsellu Ministru Agio Pereira, no Fretilin nia hatan fali iha loron 16. Ami deside la'os atu publiku deklarasaun imprensa seluk husi partidu sira.

Sosiadade sivil mos hatudu sira nia hanoin, ho statement husi La'o Hamutuk (Tetum), HAK (mos Inggris), JSMP (mos Inggris ka Bahasa Indonesia) no FONGTIL (mos Inggris).

La’o Hamutuk sei kontinua atu fokus ba substánsia husi estadu de direitu no oinsa Estadu de Direitu ida ne’ebé Konstitusional tenki hametin nafatin iha Timor-Leste, ho respeitu ba soberanidade orgaun estadu sira nian, no ami dudu ema seluk atu halo mós buat ne’ebé hanesan.

Iha loron 18 Novembru, President Parlamentu Fernando La Sama Araujo husu tribunal atu cansela sira nia desisaun.

To'o Novembrt 2008, governu hasai ona osan tokon $220 husi Fundu Petróleu tinan ne’e, tokon $140 iha trimestral ba dala tolu no tokon $80 iha Outubru. Sira husu tokon $80 tan iha Novembru, maibe seidauk consege. Maski orsamentu ne’e inkonstitusionalmente hasai osan durante tinan 2008 hamutuk tokon $686.8, desijaun tribunal nian limita ne’e ba tokon $396.1. Ladun klaru se ida ne’e sei natoon atu responde ba governu nia nesesidade ba cash ba tinan 2008, tanba dala ruma komitmentu orsamentu balu labele hala’o.

Husi Janeiru to Setembru 2008, Governu gasta ona tokon $218.6 (inklui tokon $14.7 husi Fundu Estabilizasaun Ekonomia). Osan tokon $237.6 tan tama ona iha obrigasaun ka komitmentu. Informasaun seidauk oficias hateten katak governu hasai tokon sanulu balu husi Fundu Estabilizasaun Ekonomia iha semana ida antes tribunal halo desisaun.

La’o Hamutuk sei kontinua tuir asuntu ne’e, no sei publika informasaun no tradusan barak liu tan wainhira iha ona.


The Timor-Leste Institute for Development Monitoring and Analysis (La’o Hamutuk)
Institutu Timor-Leste ba Analiza no Monitor ba Dezenvolvimentu
Rua dos Martires da Patria, Bebora, Dili, Timor-Leste
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