Jennifer Drysdale jenster at cres10.anu.edu.au
Wed Apr 26 17:35:40 EST 2006

April 2006

“Promote good governance through popular 
participation; a responsible and responsive 
government including a lean, efficient, 
effective, accountable and transparent civil 
service and effective, professional, 
non-political defence and police forces; a 
decentralized administration with simple and 
transparent norms, so that governance and public 
administration is closer to the people; a 
socially responsible private sector, transparent 
and accountable civil society organizations; and 
a responsible, independent and effective media.” 
– National Development Plan of Timor-Leste

Timor-Leste’s National Development Plan or NDP 
lays out a vision of a democratic country where 
state resources are managed efficiently, 
transparently, and free from corruption, and 
where the rule of law is respected and office 
holders are accountable to those by whom they are elected or appointed.

Timor-Leste's achievements are remarkable. The 
executive branch of the state, the Government, 
has been successful in establishing core planning 
and resource management functions that are 
effective, transparent, and anchored in the NDP, 
and compare very favorably with those of other 
low income countries. These results have been 
achieved against considerable odds, including a 
pervasive lack of technical and management skills 
and lack of familiarity with the institutions needed to run the state.

Four years into the country’s existence, the 
institutions of the state outside the executive 
are beginning to play a role, although the 
executive remains stronger than the parliament, 
the judiciary, the oversight institutions, and the Presidency.

Media and civil society organizations also remain 
comparatively weak. Despite some progress, much 
remains to be done to translate the governance 
architecture set out in the Constitution into 
well-functioning and fully autonomous 
institutions. Given the relative strength of the 
executive, and in order to achieve the checks and 
balances envisioned in both the Constitution and 
the National Development Plan, the Government may 
wish to consider what measures it may take to strengthen other institutions.

Such measures may include ensuring that 
independent institutions have statutory budgets 
approved by Parliament; maintaining proper 
channels of communication; respecting the 
separation of powers; and creating an enabling 
environment for media, civil society and 
business. This would build trust and give people 
confidence that the Government is conducting its 
business in a fair and honest way. In 
strengthening governance, the Government may wish 
to consider using and demonstrating four guiding principles:
    * sending the right signals through 
leadership and integrity at high levels;
    * relaxing control in order to consolidate it 
– reassuring citizens by allowing the 
institutions of scrutiny and accountability to operate independently;
    * strengthening the rule of law and due 
process, including restrained and appropriate use 
of the state’s monopoly on coercive power; and
    * reaching out and listening to the 
population in order to be more responsive to priorities at local level.

This paper was prepared by the World Bank at the 
request of the Government of Timor-Leste and the 
development partners supporting the Transition 
Support Program/Consolidation Support Program. 
The Government, actors in the justice system and 
a host of civil society organizations provided 
comments on an earlier draft of the paper.


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