With USAID support, the independent National Elections Commission and Anti-Corruption Commission held a joint conference on political parties and anti-corruption in advance of the March 17 presidential elections. Two senior officials from Indonesia and Australia were asked to share regional lessons learned on topics including vote buying, electoral corruption and court procedures. There were engaging questions from Members of Parliament on what legislative requirements are needed to limit corruption in elections.
USAID has invited a representative from the Ministry of Finance to be a liaison on the Country Development Cooperation Strategy (CDCS). USAID is the first development partner to include a government representative at this early stage of strategy development. The Minister of Finance applauded the cooperation and said that USAID is the first donor to invite host-country representatives to participate in the strategy development process. USAID Timor Leste is a strong supporter of the g7+ New Deal for Engagement with Fragile States and host-country-driven development.
USAID's health program, Hadiak, this week brought ten Indonesian skilled midwives to Timor-Leste to fill in temporarily while the Ministry of Health trains its own midwives. The Indonesian midwives and their extra skills will be assigned to areas in the country where the need is greatest. The deployment will also improve infant and child immunization rates.
The USAID-MCC anticorruption project took advantage of the presence of USAID Office of the Inspector General (OIG) investigators in Dili to share their expertise with the independent Anti-Corruption Commission on the challenges of handling internal fraud and corruption investigations. The OIG special agents worked directly with Commission investigators and offered investigative assistance on cases of mutual interest within Timor-Leste. The Commission invited the special agents to return in the future to provide further investigations training.
USAID's community horticulture project was highlighted at an international conference in Dili in early February. Participating farmers brought their produce and their entrepreneurial expertise to an exhibition of best practices at the Forum for Inclusive Growth, sponsored by the Government of Timor-Leste and UNDP, to identify opportunities for spurring private-sector growth.
Judge Counsellor Dra. Maria Natercia Perriera Gusmao at the Court of Appeal formally expressed her thanks to USAID this week for providing office furniture and IT hardware to the court. The desks, chairs, filing cabinets and computers will allow seven newly-trained auditors to start work immediately within the soon-to-be-formed High Administrative, Tax and Audit Court (HATAC). The furniture and computers were transferred from USAID's Justice Institutions Strengthening Project, which will close at the end of March.
Parliamentarian Manuel Tilman, head of Parliament’s Committee C on Economy, Finance and Anti-Corruption, this week launched a new Anti-Corruption Desk Reference developed at his request with help from the USAID-MCC anti-corruption project. The reference includes all the current legislation related to corruption and other useful resources. Tilman said that the reference will “strengthen the debate by Parliamentarians and reduce our reliance on foreign advisors.
International Anti-Corruption Day on Dec. 9 was widely marked in Timor-Leste last week. The head of the independent Anti-Corruption Commission announced the results of a recent USAID-funded survey in Timor-Leste indicating growing concern about corruption. Speakers lauded the U.S. Government for its continuing support for anti-corruption initiatives, including USAID's technical, policy and legal support for the Anti-Corruption Commission, funded in part by the MCC.