Venidora Oliveira – It is claimed the government spent more than $44 million on the construction of the Ministry of Finance building, which so far remains empty and unused.
National MP Fransciso Branco has questioned why the five-storey office building is still empty despite being completed in 2011 and inaugurated in 2014. "It has been built but it is unused, [so] we can say the government just wasted money," said Branco at the National Parliament.
Parliament had disagreed with the construction of the building, but the government argued that the building was appropriate and would help restore national pride in Timor-Leste.
According to Branco, the total allocated budget for the project was $44,912,000, including $5,430,000 in 2011, $7,392,000 in 2012, $9,810,000 in 2013, $15,460,000 in 2014 and $6,820,000 in 2015.
He called on the government to explain to national parliament the reasons for the delay. "They should be responsible and look at the issue," he said.
In response, Deputy Minister of Finance Helder Lopes acknowledged the delay, but said the building would be ready to use once the interior fit-out and data center installation was complete.
He said chairs and office partitions were currently being set up and arrangements had been made for the electricity connection and installation of computers. "When it's completed in August, we are ready to use the office," he said.
He also denied the building had been damaged as a result of being vacant so long. "It is in good condition and the rumors are untrue," he said.