Timor-Leste's president has expressed concern over the Catholic-majority country's budget allocation and stressed the importance of prioritizing people most affected by natural disasters and the global economic slowdown.
Jose Ramos-Horta was speaking on June 13 as he promulgated the law on the Major Choices Plan for 2023 after it was approved by the government and parliament.
The president said he had asked the Court of Appeal to review the allocation of funds and emphasized that he had the right to give an opinion, although the ratification authority rested with the government and parliament.
"The president has the duty to act as one of the guardians of the constitution, as the protector of our democracy and the rule of law, and to ensure, within the limits of the law, respect and compliance with constitutional rules," Ramos-Horta said.
He specifically criticized the allocation of US$1 billion for the creation of a new veterans fund out of a total budget of $3.1 billion by 2023.
The funds are part of an amendment of the budget plan in which the government added $1.12 billion to the previous plan. It is also part of a pledge by the government-backed political parties that supported Francisco "Lu-Olo" Guterres, who was defeated by Ramos-Horta in April's presidential election.