26 April 2016

Health and safety for all workers, not only those in mining & petroleum

Informasaun kompletu iha Tetum iha ne'e.
See La'o Hamutuk's web page for the full submission in Tetum

On 4 March 2016, Timor-Leste's State Secretariat for Professional Training and Employment Policy (SEPFOPE) circulated a draft Decree-Law on Employment in the Extractive Activities for public comment. The proposed law would create a specific legal regime for workers in the petroleum and mining industries, supplementing or replacing the Labor Law 4/2012 which applies to workers throughout the formal economy. SEPFOPE held a workshop on 10 March to discuss the draft with stakeholders.

Although labor rights are not a fundamental part of La'o Hamutuk's work, SEPFOPE's consultation was well-conducted (it is exceptional for a Government agency to ask for input, providing translations of a draft law with enough time for comment before sending it to the Council of Ministers). Therefore, La'o Hamutuk decided to apply our knowledge about extractive industries, especially oil and gas, to write a submission (Tetum) to this consultation process.

The main points of our submission, which also suggests a number of specific changes to the draft, are:

This Decree-Law should follow principles of equality for every worker, rather than creating a privileged class of workers in one sector. It should conform with international human rights covenants.

We agree with many provisions in the draft Decree-Law, and they should be incorporated into the Labor Law and applied to all workers in Timor-Leste. These include:
  • Health and safety insurance
  • Pension fund, which should be expanded to include workers in the informal sector through a Government-managed pension scheme funded by taxes on companies.
  • Minimum wage should be the same for all sectors.
  • Protection of women against abuse or discrimination, and recognition of their childbearing responsibilities
  • If bonuses (in addition to the 13th month salary applicable to all workers) are legally mandated, they should apply to all employed workers.
  • Occupational safety and environmental protection should apply to all sectors, and whistle-blowers should be protected. However, particularly hazardous work, such as some mining jobs, may require special rules.
The law should define minimum standards while recognizing the right of workers to organize and to secure greater benefits through collective bargaining and contract negotiation.

Penalties for employers who violate this law should be severe enough to encourage compliance.

Education at all levels should be improved to prepare Timorese workers for higher-skill, higher-paid jobs in extractive and other industries.

20 April 2016

Private investment is a road, not a destination

Many in Timor-Leste see private investment – people or companies putting their money into projects with the intention of earning a return in the future -- as the key to Timor-Leste’s future economic development. They expect Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), where the money comes from other countries, to accelerate economic development in Timor-Leste, resulting in jobs and other benefits for our people. Unfortunately, this does not happen automatically, but needs careful planning, guidance and regulation.

Because Timor-Leste has not yet attracted many significant foreign investors, the Ministry of State Coordinating Economic Affairs (MECAE) is revising Timor-Leste’s Private Investment Policy and Law (replacing the 2011 law currently in effect), citing the need to comply with ASEAN and United Nations Convention on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) guidelines. La’o Hamutuk wrote a submission to MECAE on the draft Private Investment Law and another submission on the summary of the draft Private Investment Policy – and here we summarize some of our main points.

Private investment is a means to an end, not an end in itself, and the policy and law should describe how private investment can promote human development in Timor-Leste, rather than assuming that this will happen automatically. Conversely, the policy should analyze potential negative impacts from private investment which Timor-Leste could avoid. In many developing countries, foreign investments – particularly in extractive industries, palm oil plantations and logging – damage local livelihoods, destroy the environment, take land away from citizens and from food production, increase corruption and deplete natural resources.

La’o Hamutuk is disappointed that the draft investment policy only mentions export-oriented agriculture as having potential for investment, while ignoring the wide variety of food crops grown by most people. We should prioritize investment in organic agriculture and food processing for domestic consumption which would improve productivity, employment, incomes and nutrition. Manufacturing and tourism are other key sectors outlined in the Strategic Development Plan which should be invested in to diversify Timor-Leste’s economy and reduce dependency on imports.

Timor-Leste does not need to adopt ASEAN’s Comprehensive Investment Agreement (ACIA) before we join ASEAN; instead, we should keep space to negotiate exceptions or delays to ASEAN investment and importation rules, as most members do. (Current regrets over signing CMATS in 2006, when our leaders agreed to delay maritime boundaries for fifty years, is a lesson in the importance of not giving up bargaining power.) Also, if Timor-Leste follows ACIA’s mandate and gives investors from ASEAN ‘national treatment’, Timorese investors would have to compete with large companies from Singapore, Malaysia or Indonesia, which could effectively exclude local businesses.

MECAE wants to enact these rules by this September; we think this is too rushed. Other legislation, such as tax reform and land laws should come first, because they are fundamental both to people’s lives and to economic development, including investment. This draft investment policy needs significant improvement, which will take deeper discussion and thought than the current schedule envisions.

La’o Hamutuk has doubts about some assumptions about ‘free enterprise’ and ‘market principles’ which appear to underlie this law and policy. Although private investment is one aspect of economic development, an “open economic model, based on market principles and led by the private sector”  is not necessarily the most effective way to improve the lives of our people. Private investment is just one avenue among many -- instead of regurgitating free market dogma, our laws and policies should consider all viable alternatives that can foster economic development.

Both the policy and law envision special favors to attract investors and expedite investment applications. However, improved bureaucratic efficiency and rule of law would benefit all of Timor-Leste’s citizens, as well as increasing investor confidence. Everyone has the right to fair and equal treatment -- giving privileges to investors just because they have money undermines this principle and opens a door to corruption.

Finally, we recommend that policy makers evaluate the actual factors that have deterred people and companies from investing in Timor-Leste. Low-hanging fruit like slashing business taxes (2008) and simplifying business registration (2013) were unsuccessful in attracting investors. We believe Timor-Leste needs to confront more challenging obstacles – human resources, land titles, contract enforcement, and reliable, sustainable infrastructure. Overcoming these problems will not only attract investment, but will also improve all citizens’ lives. If we don't do this and simply make special rules to bypass broken or inefficient processes, less scrupulous investors who seek to exploit our resources and limited experience may come, while legitimate investors will not want to do business in an environment of patronage and favoritism.

Private investment policy can bring benefits for Timor-Leste’s people, but if managed poorly it also can create damage and increase inequality. La’o Hamutuk appreciates MECAE’s willingness to take this issue to public consultation, and we encourage citizens and civil society organizations to engage in the process as the Private Investment Law moves through the Council of Ministers, Parliament and the Presidency.

Investimentu Privadu – dalan, la’ós objetivu

Investimentu privadu signifika ema ka kompañia ruma tau sira nia osan iha projetu ho intensaun atu manán lukru iha futuru. Ema barak iha Timor-Leste hanoin katak investimentu privadu xave ba Timor-Leste nia dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku iha futuru. Sira hein katak Foreign Direct Investment (Investimentu Direta husi Li’ur - FDI), bainhira osan mai husi rai seluk, bele halo lalais liu dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku iha Timor-Leste, atu aumenta empregu no fó benefísiu seluk ba ita nia povu. Infelizmente, buat hirak ne’e sei la akontese automatikamente – maibé tenke halo planu, jestaun no regulasaun ne’ebé ho kuidadu.

Tanba Timor-Leste seidauk atrai investimentu boot barak, Ministériu Estadu, Kordenador ba Asuntu Ekonómiku (MECAE) halo hela revizaun ba Timor-Leste nia Polítika Investimentu Privadu no Lei Investimentu Privadu (atu muda lei ne’ebé estabelese iha 2011), ho razaun seluk katak Timor-Leste tenke tuir matadalan husi ASEAN (ACIA) no ONU (UNCTAD). La’o Hamutuk hakerek ona submisaun ba MECAE kona-ba ezbosu Lei Investimentu Privadu no mós hakerek submisaun ida tan kona-ba rezumu ezbosu Polítika Investimentu Privadu – iha artigu ne’e ami sumaríza ideia balun husi submisaun rua ne’e.

Investimentu privadu la’ós meta ida, maibé dalan ida atu atinje buat ruma, tanba ne’e polítika no lei tenke deskreve oinsá investimentu privadu bele promove dezenvolvimentu umanu iha Timor-Leste – la bele asume de’it katak ida ne’e sei akontese automatikamente. Polítika investimentu mós tenke analiza posibilidade ba impaktu negativu husi investimentu privadu ne’ebé Timor-Leste bele prevene no hasees. Iha nasaun barak seidauk dezenvolvidu, investimentu estranjeiru – liu-liu iha indústria estratíva, plantasaun palma mina (minyak kelapa sawit), no indústria tesi ai (industri penebangan) – estraga komunidade nia moris no meiu ambiente, foti rai husi produsaun ai-han, hamosu korrupsaun no uza lalais rekursu naturais.

La’o Hamutuk sente triste katak ezbosu polítika investimentu mensiona de’it agrikultura ba esportasaun nudár setór ho poténsia ba investimentu, maibé polítika ne’e ignora tipu ai-han barak ne’ebé maioria Timor-Leste nia povu kuda. Ita tenke prioritíza agrikultura orgánika no prosesamentu ai-han atu han iha Timor-Leste laran – nune’e bele hadi’ak produsaun, kampu servisu, rendimentu no nutrisaun. Fábriku (ka indústria prosesamentu) no turizmu mós hanesan setór xave seluk ne’ebé diskute iha Planu Estratéjiku Dezenvolvimentu, no ita tenke investe iha setór rua ne’e atu diversifíka Timor-Leste nia ekonomia no hamenus dependénsia ba importasaun.

Timor-Leste la presiza adopta ASEAN nia Konkordánsia Komprensívu Investimentu (ACIA) molok ita tama iha ASEAN; tuir lo-loos, ita tenke mantén ita nia abilidade atu negosia esepsaun ka adia ba ASEAN nia regra investimentu no importasaun, hanesan maioria membru ASEAN sira halo nafatin. (Agora ita arrepende tanba bainhira ita asina CMATS iha 2006, bainhira ita nia polítika na’in sira konkorda katak ita simu Australia nia pedidu atu adia diskusaun  kona-ba fronteira maritima ba tinan 50 oin mai – ita bele aprende husi esperiénsia ida ne’e katak importante atu la bele limita ita nia abilidade atu halo negosiasaun). Ida seluk, karik Timor-Leste tuir ACIA nia mandatu no fó ‘tratamentu nasionál’ ba investidór sira husi ASEAN, ita sei obriga investidór Timor-oan sira tenke kompete ho kompañia boot sira husi Singapura, Malaysia ka Indonézia ne’ebé iha rekursu finansas no umanus ne’ebé forte liu, no ida ne’e bele esklui negósiu lokál sira.

MECAE hakarak implementa polítika no lei ne’e molok Setembru agora, maibé ami hanoin ita la presiza la’o lalais hanesan ne’e. Ita tenke finalíza lejizlasaun seluk hanesan reforma fiskal no lei ba rai uluk, tanba lei sira ne’e báziku tebes ba ema nia moris no dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku, inklui investimentu. Ami mós hanoin katak Governu tenke hadi’ak buat barak iha polítika investimentu ne’e, no atu halo ida ne’e tenke halo diskusaun kle’an liu tan ho tempu ne’ebé nato’on duké oráriu ne’ebé iha agora.

La’o Hamutuk mós duvida kona-ba asumsaun balun ne’ebé inklui iha lei no polítika sira ne’e liga ho ideia ‘negósiu livre’ no ‘prinsípiu merkadu’. Maske investimentu privadu mak aspeitu ida ba dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku, “modelu ekonómiku ne’ebé nakloke, bazeia ba prinsípiu merkadu no lidera husi setór privadu” la’ós dalan úniku ka efetivu liu atu hadi’ak liu tan ita nia povu nia moris. Investimentu privadu hanesan dalan ida maibé iha dalan barak – ita nia polítika no lei la bele tuir no repete de’it ideolojia ‘merkadu livre’, no tenke konsidera alternativa viavel hotu ne’ebé bele promove dezenvolvimentu ekonómiku.

Polítika no lei hotu hanoin atu fó prémiu ka favor espesiál atu atrai investidór sira no trata aplikasaun investimentu lalais liu. Maibé, bainhira Governu hadi’ak efisiénsia burokrasia no regra, sidadaun Timor-Leste hotu sei hetan benefísiu, no mós sei aumenta investidór sira nia fiar. Ema hotu-hotu iha direitu atu hetan tratamentu ne’ebé justu no iguál -- se ita fó priviléjiu ba investidór sira tanba sira iha osan, ita sei estraga prinsípiu ne’e no loke odamatan ba korrupsaun.

Ikus liu, ami rekomenda ba polítika na’in sira atu avalia fatór loos ne’ebé prevene ema no kompañia investe sira nia osan iha Timor-Leste. Ita hadi’ak ona buat simplés sira hanesan ko’a taxa negósiu (2008) no simplifika prosesu registrasaun negósiu (2013) maibé seidauk konsege atu atrai investidór sira. Ami fiar katak Timor-Leste tenke rekoñese no hadi’ak obstákulu sira ne’ebé difisil liu: rekursu umanus, títulu rai, implementasaun kontratu tuir lei, no infrastrutura ne’ebé sustentável no bele garante servisu ho kualidade. Karik ita resolve problema hirak ne’e, ita bele hadi’ak liu tan sidadaun hotu nia moris, la’ós de’it atu atrai investimentu. Karik ita la resolve problema sira ne’e, no kria de’it regra espesiál atu evita prosesu ne’ebé aat ka la efisiente, investidór ho vontade aat hakarak esplora ita nia rekursu ka esperiénsia ne’ebé limitadu bele mai, no iha tempu hanesan investidór lejítimu sei lakohi halo komérsiu iha fatin ne’ebé iha pratika korrupsaun hanesan nepotizmu, ka fahe priviléjiu ho ema ne’ebé besik liu poder na’in.

Investimentu privadu bele lori benefísiu ba povu Timor-Leste, maibé karik ita nia jestaun fraku investimentu mós estraga ita no hasa’e dezigualdade. La’o Hamutuk apresia MECAE nia vontade atu lori asuntu ida ne’e ba konsultasaun públiku, no ami enkoraja sidadaun no organizasaun sosiedade sivíl atu partisipa iha prosesu bainhira Lei Investimentu Privadu tama liu Konsellu Ministru, Parlamentu no Gabinete Prezidénsia.

La’o Hamutuk nia submisaun kona-ba Polítika Investimentu no Lei Investimentu Privadu diskute tópiku seluk, inklui:
  • FDI iha nasaun seidauk dezenvolvidu: vantajen no dezvantajen
  • Oinsá mak Timor-Leste bele hetan benefísiu husi investimentu estranjeiru?
  • Obrigasaun tuir Konstituisaun no tratadu internasionál
  • Investidór tenke tuir lei hanesan ema hotu-hotu
  • Aranjamentu espesiál no mekanizmu ba rezolusaun dispute
  • Polítika investimentu haluha traballadór informal sira
  • Lei Investimentu la bele loke dalan ba korrupsaun