Her Excellency Emilia Pires, was appointed the Minister of Finance of Timor-Leste on August 8, 2007 inthe first coalition Government under the leadership of Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao.
Ms. Pires, an independent, was chosen for her technical background and her global experience, expertise and practical knowledge in planning, public finance management, development, and aid. Known for implementing a reformist agenda for the Gusmao Government, Ms. Pires corporatised the Ministry of Finance expanding decentralisation to expedite service delivery, pioneering one of the first fragile and post conflict countries to go from negative growth rates to three years of average double digit economic growth making Timor-Leste one of the top ten fastest growing economies in the world between 2008 and 2011.
Under Ms. Pires’ leadership, promoting transparency and accountability as well as strengthening institutional capacity of the Ministry of Finance in the area of financial management was at the forefront of her mandate. The Timor-Leste Transparency Portal, launched in early 2011, set a global precedent allowing the public to interface, evaluate and analyse State expenditures in real time, enabling national participation and inclusivity in the process of nation building. The reforms led to the reduction by 19 countries of the Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index and reforms to taxes reached the highest change in rank by seventy places to reach the top twenty globally in the 2009 Doing Business Report.
With reforms, new systems procedures, and mass training for local staff, Timor-Leste indicators across the board improved with increases in tax compliance, revenue, budget execution to the 90 percentile and in service delivery to help the most vulnerable in Timor-Leste, through support to line Ministries to decentralise with training in procurement using innovative strategies. A whole of Government approach allowed the payment for the first pensions to the elderly, veterans, disabled, and orphans; the resettlement of some 150,000 IDPs, or 15% of the population, from the crisis in 2006 in less than two years; and planning for community works projects to rebuild the country across all 13 districts to invigorate the nascent private sector and decrease unemployment as a national peacebuilding and statebuilding effort.
By 2010, Ms. Pires’ outspoken views and radical actions in aid reforms received international recognition with Timor-Leste leading global forums including the International Dialogue on Peacebuilding and Statebuilding and the seventeen fragile and post-conflict nations in the g7+, representing 350 million of the world’s most vulnerable citizens. The g7+ is the first forum in history to give a united voice to countries emerging from conflict. Ms. Pires was chosen to be the first Chair of the g7+ and led the first Heads of State side-event meeting at the 2010 MDG (Millennium Development Goals) Summit at the General Assembly with the President of Timor-Leste, His Excellency Jose Ramos-Horta.
Ms. Pires also Co-Chairs the International Dialogue of Peacebuilding and Statebuilding with the Netherlands, which has recently taken over from the United Kingdom. Now a key note speaker to major Conferences in Aid Effectiveness, Fragile States, Public Finance Reform and Emerging from the Post Conflict experience with global organisations including amongst others the UN, World Bank and Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). In 2001, Ms. Pires was the co-author with current President of the Republic, H,E. Jose Ramos-Horta on “How will the Macroeconomy be Managed in an Independent East Timor? An East Timorese view” published in the IMF’s Finance and Development Magazine and in 2007, with Mr. Michael Francino, on “National Ownership and International Trusteeship: the Case of Timor-Leste”, published in Boyce James K. and Madalene O’Donnell (eds) in the Peace and the Public Purse: Economic Policies for Postwar Statebuilding.
With a Bachelor’s degree in Mathematics (Statistics) from Latrobe University, post graduate studies in Government Law from the University of Melbourne, and a Master’s of Science in Development Management from the London School of Economics and Political Science in the United Kingdom, Ms. Pires brings to Timor-Leste over 25 years of management experience and community planning and development work.
Ms. Pires, a refugee to Australia after 1975, started her professional career at the age of 22 as a junior public servant with the Victorian Government where she reached senior management level and continued to assume high level positions with global organisations including the World Bank as a Senior Aid Management Specialist in the West Bank and Gaza, with the United Nations in UNMISET’s Senior Advisor to the Timor-Leste Ministry of Planning and Finance, and with UNTAET’s Head of the Planning Commission Secretariat as well as the Chief of the National Development and Planning Agency (NPDA). Prior to becoming Minister of Finance, Ms. Pires held the post of UNMIT Senior Coordination Advisor on the International Compact to the DSRSG in Timor-Leste.
Ms. Pires led the planning process for the first Timorese National Development Plan and East Timor’s Vision 2020, as well as chairing the UNDP Working Group to produce the first East Timor National Human Development Report. In April 2005, Ms. Pires was invited to sit on George Soros’ Southeast Asia Advisory Board, contributing to policy discussions on pertinent regional development issues.
Ms. Pires has dedicated her personal and professional life to first, the independence of and then the consolidation of, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste, and will continue to commit her life’s work to promote Timor-Leste and those countries like Timor-Leste emerging from fragility and conflict.