Noe Pushes Oil and Gas Development Over Agriculture Featured

By Jacinto Xavier February 07, 2019 935
The president of National Parliament The president of National Parliament

DILI: The president of National Parliament has argued that building a strong economy for Timor-Leste rests with developing the nation’s oil and gas sector and not its agricultural industry.

At the start of a political week in which the President of the Republic is likely to approve a 2019 General State Budget that allocates just 1 percent of its expenditure to agriculture, Arao Noe said an oil and gas industry was where the nation’s economic advantage stood.

"The Prime Minister has said that the Education, Health, Agriculture and Tourism sector will not guarantee the State Revenue budget, therefore it is better for us to immediately develop the Oil and gas sector than the productivity factor, '' Noe said in parliament on Monday.

Noe said the government had bought and distributed 3000 tractors to support local rice farmers in recent years, but local rice harvest remained insufficient to meet local demand forcing importation of rice from abroad.

Noe conceded that farmers needed support to boost production levels, but said Timor-Leste’s mountainous country meant it was difficult to transform all land into productive farms.

Responding to Noe’s comments in parliament, Mirando Branco, Chairman of Fretilin opposition party whose members voted against the proposed budget, said improving the income of farming families should be a national priority.

He said 900,000 Timorese people depended on agriculture for their livelihood and that increases in their income would have significant flow-on effects across Timor-Leste economy.

"I think if we develop the agricultural sector then we will not depend on food imported from abroad and all money will only spin in Timor-Leste," he said.

Subsistence farmers make up the majority of the 42 per cent of Timorese population living below the poverty line, according to recent UN figures.

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Last modified on Thursday, 07 February 2019 10:29

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