Dili, Timor-Leste – The Minister of Finance, H.E. Rui Augusto Gomes hosted the virtual conference on Tuesday afternoon, 2 of February 2021, with the Senior Management team of the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to discuss on how to strengthen the ADB support to Timor-Leste to transition the country’s economy amid Covid-19 pandemic and beyond.
This online conference was also an introductory session between Minister Gomes and the senior management team of the ADB where they exchanged views and ideas on the current economic challenges, government’s response plans carried out through the Economic Recovery Plan (ERP) as well as the opportunity for Timor-Leste to take advantage of accessing to the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility (APVAX) that was established by the ADB.
During the meeting, the Vice President of ADB, Ahmed Saeed, took the opportunity to recall the work that, in partnership with the Ministry of Finance, has been developed in areas such as basic infrastructure development, agriculture, tourism, manufacturing, water and sanitation, private sector development and the economic diversification. Thus, in the context of cooperation with a budget of around USD 100 million, the ADB has offered the grants and loan projects to Timor-Leste. The ADB recently has also mobilized $1 million to the Ministry of Finance to provide assistance in the area of food security, which has enabled distribution of locally sourced food baskets to vulnerable populations.
Minister Rui Augusto Gomes said, “The Asian Development Bank is one of our longstanding development partners since 1999 and has played a significant role in helping Timor-Leste to remove the infrastructure bottlenecks, institutional constraints and improve human capital. On behalf of the Government, I also thanked the ADB for their continued support during Covid-19 pandemic and will certainly consider the offer to get access to the Asia Pacific Vaccine Access Facility.”
In the meeting, Minister Gomes also shared with the team, Timor-Leste’s six fiscal policy priorities for 2021: (1) social capital development, (2) economic development through economic recovery, (3) basic infrastructure development, (4) environmental development, (5) institutional strengthening and (6) economic and public financial management reforms. “I believe that there are many areas that the ADB could be useful and significant in providing assistance to the country, particularly on agriculture, private sector development, education and training,” Minister added.
Vice-President Saeed commented, “As an external partner, ADB is committed to work with the Government that has a strong vision and clear development strategy and we will continue to work with the Ministry to identify how and where, we can support the Ministry in their efforts to continue to drive the reforms agenda and economic diversification.”
On the same occasion, the ADB Executive Director Paul Dominguez also added that the agriculture development and the provision of public housing development can be an excellent way to upgrade the level of social services provided by the Government. Minister Gomes replied, “These are excellent ideas and are in line with our economic recovery plan so I’m hoping that our partnership will continue in the future.”
Participated in this virtual conference, Chief of Staff to the Minister, Jo Monteiro, Director General of External Resources Management and Mobilization, Antonio Freitas including the relevant Advisors from the Office of the Minister. Paul Dominguez, ADB Executive Director, Shahid Mahmood, Alternate Executive Director, Ahmed Saeed, Vice-President and Ramesh Subramaniam, Director General, Southeast Asia Department were from ADB Headquarters Management while Sunil Mitra, Country Director Timor-Leste Resident Mission, Tiago Ribeiro, Jose Pereira and Kavita Iyengar were from ADB Timor-Leste Resident Mission.