Nicolau Lobato Presidential Palace, June 20, 2024. President J. Ramos-Horta today held his regular weekly meeting with Prime Minister Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão, who briefed the President on his recent trips to Geneva and Zurich. The meeting also included birthday congratulations for the Prime Minister from the President and Presidency team.

A key focus was the PM’s visit to the UN Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET) Summit in Geneva. He also spoke at the Zurich Forum about building peace in Ukraine, providing not just humanitarian aid but a pathway to resolving the conflict. In comments after their meeting, President Ramos-Horta praised the Prime Minister’s “very on-point intervention at the Zurich Forum” about peacebuilding efforts in Ukraine.

The President reaffirmed that he and PM Xanana Gusmão remain committed to Timor-Leste gaining membership in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in 2025. He said a formal letter will soon be sent to the ASEAN Secretary General initiating the nation’s bid.

On the economic front, President Ramos-Horta acknowledged the need to raise the minimum wage in response to global inflationary pressures. However, he cautioned that this must be implemented through a “strategic plan” by the Government to avoid overly burdening the private sector.

The President also signaled his intention to strictly audit public institutions and review their budget performance. “If there is no return on investment from the annual budget report, I might not approve the 2025 budget for the IP,” he warned.

The two leaders will reconvene in their bi-weekly meeting format in two weeks’ time, continuing the close coordination between the presidency and Prime Ministry that is typical of Timor-Leste’s semi-presidential system.

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