In FY 2008/9 AusAID (Timor-Leste) had a budget of 93.9 million AUD. In FY 2009/10 AusAID had a budget of 117 million AUD. However, it was only able to execute 94.7 million AUD. This means that they did not execute 20% of the funds that had for development activities in Timor-Leste. This is 22.3 million AUD. In simplistic terms this is 1.7 million AUD per district. That is much money in Timor-Leste.
As a result of AusAID’s failure to deliver, the budget for 2010/11 has been cut from 117 million AUD to 102.7 million AUD. AusAID incompetence has cost Timorese poor people 14.3 million AUD. That is at least one Chinese patrol boat. Then again Timorese poor people have not lost the money. Australian consultants have lost the money.
What is the problem? Is Australia angry with Timor-Leste over the Timor Sea issue? Perhaps, but these budgets are determined before the current argument. Is the Australian aid budget decreasing because of the financial crisis? No, in fact they are doubling it globally from 4 billion AUD to 8 billion AUD over the coming years.
Is it because the AusAID does not know how to spend money in Timor-Leste? Seems so. This is not surprising as AusAID have no country strategy from 1999 to 2009. Although they have one now. 10 years after they arrived. The AusAID website told us 6 months ago that it would be translated in Tetun and Portuguese but the big Australian Government machine finds it hard to raise a few dollars for translation.
Tempo Semanal will review the country strategy and the facts on the ground in the coming weeks. AusAID is run by Ali Gillies, Jemal Sharar, Darian Clarke and Jeff Prime. Tempo Semanal has not met any of them yet but hopes to try and meet them in the coming weeks as it tries to understand the story.