Speech by His Excellency the President of the Democratic Republic of
Timor-Leste, Dr. Francisco Guterres Lú Olo Oé-Cusse, 10
June 2017.

Your Excellencies, Mr President of the National Parliament, Mr
President of the Authority for the Special Autonomous Region of
Oé-Cusse (RAEOA), Members of Parliament, Members of Government,
Most Reverend Bishop and representatives of religious denominations,
Distinguished guests, Ladies and gentlemen, Maubere and Buibere!

The history of Timor-Leste begins in Lifau, located in today's Special
Autonomous Region of Oé-Cusse.

After the official proclamation of the referendum results, in 1999,
Oé-Cusse suffered a tragic level of devastation unparalleled in
the country. This part of our nation was scorched.

From the ashes, we rose as a country and took the reins of our
destiny. But Oé- Cusse remained at the periphery unjustly so
despite deserving special treatment in the constitution of our

We must therefore do justice to our history. That is why we are here
today. Oé- Cusse deserves our attention. We are here to put
right a wrong. In 2014, we brought Oé-Cusse to the national
political agenda. Since then, Oé-Cusse is no longer an enclave,
it is no longer isolated. We embraced Oé-Cusse as an integral
part of our territory.

Oé-Cusse gave us an opportunity to gain a new way of thinking
about development. It was not without reason that Oé-Cusse was
chosen as a Special Social Market Economy Zone (ZEESM).

In addition to its status as an enclave, Oé-Cusse had natural
conditions that hampered development. Abundant rainfall caused floods
and separated the populations. It was necessary to find practical
solutions for these problems that combine with the traditional,
centuries-old isolation of the enclave.

To break the isolation of Oé-Cusse, we prioritised the means of
transport ensuring speed and mobility. Mobility is an indispensable
condition for citizenship. To modernise Oé-Cusse while
reinforcing citizenship meant investing in mobility. There was a need
for specific elements: a boat, a plane, and a bridge.

It is therefore with great pleasure and the deepest satisfaction that
I join the inauguration of the largest bridge built to date in
Timor-Leste the Noefefan bridge, with a span of approximately 400
metres. This bridge is, undoubtedly, a solid and singularly beautiful
basic infrastructure, which in itself already represents a return of
the capital invested in it.

What we have here is a product that will forever demonstrate that the
capital withdrawn from the Petroleum Fund was not spent lightly. A
total of 17 million dollars were invested here. In each stone, each
piece of metal and in any and all materials used to build this bridge
that ensures a safe connection for the people of the Oé-Cusse
Ambeno enclave.

This bridge a high-quality work embellishes the landscape and fills us
with a sense of how perennial we are. It was built to serve those who
need it for many years to come.

The Tono river used to isolate populations. But from now on, thanks to
this bridge, it will become a connecting point between the
populations. The Noefefan bridge, solid and elegant, has definitively
broken the isolation of the populations, who for decades suffered from
isolation during the rainy season. More than 3,600 resident families
who lived in isolation in the coastal area of the sucos of Bene-Ufe,
Usitaco, Suni-Ufe, Taiboco, and part of the suco of Lifau can now
cross this bridge to access the basic services provided by the
Timorese State, such as the referral hospital and secondary education.

The State also gains easier access to the communities of those sucos
and ability to deliver essential services in the areas of health,
education, water and sanitation, and electricity distribution.

In short, each of the citizens, each of the families from the
surrounding areas will have greater access to the services and
facilities are being organised and improved in the region, by private
initiative or through public funding. The exchange between the
populations of Pante Macassar and Nitibe, and between them and the
populations of the Special Autonomous Region of Oé-Cusse Ambeno
will progressively increase.

A considerable amount of the General State Budget was spent here, but
for a useful purpose: to increase mobility to ultimately serve the
Timorese citizens. Each of the direct and indirect beneficiaries will
feel the positive effects that a basic infrastructure such as this
will have on their daily lives. The approximately 3,000 rice farmers
who cultivate more than 1,000 hectares near the Tono river can attest
to it. They now can have better and faster access to the Pante
Macassar market and to the Oé-Cusse harbour to ensure the
distribution of their product. This bridge gives them the incentive to
increase production in the coming years. This bridge gives them the
confidence in a better future for their children.

Two in every 10 citizens who reside in the region will regularly use
this bridge.  The Noefefan bridge is therefore another symbol of the
growing exercise of citizenship by the populations of Oé-Cusse
in our independent Timor-Leste.

Your Excellencies,

The Noefefan bridge is not an isolated initiative of the Authority for
the Special Autonomous Region of Oé-Cusse. The Noefefan bridge
is the result of a new philosophy. The Noefefan bridge is an integral
part of a new development model whose implementation, in 2014,
deliberately selected the region of Oé- Cusse. An area of 107
hectares in Pante Macassar, in the south of Oé-Cusse, was
chosen as a Special Social Market Economy Zone (ZEESM). It is in this
area that we have been focussing tremendous efforts for the
construction of basic infrastructure, necessary to attract national
and foreign investors, create jobs, and accelerate sustainable
economic growth, while simultaneously ensuring social development.

The social market economy proposed for this area seeks global,
inclusive, innovative, creative, and sustainable development centred
on the human factor. All development plans and processes are subject
to this factor. This new philosophy envisions the participation of the
families in the generation of income.  Mechanisms will be created to
ensure that the Timorese families can also invest in the businesses,
can become partners or make a profit from their own investment and
from it derive a continuing source of income to sustain their present
and future needs. Training has been a continuing activity because the
empowerment of human resources is a guarantee for the success of this

I must highlight the important role played by Mr Mari Alkatiri in the
conceptualisation and implementation of this new development model in
Oé- Cusse.  This is a model with unique management and
monitoring characteristics; a model that, in my view, has already
started to demonstrate its success.

It is only but fair to make a special reference to the role played by
the V Constitutional Government led by His Excellency Kay Rala Xanana
Gusmão who did not spare efforts to make this collective dream
come true.  Dr. Mari Alkatiri and our brother Kay Rala Xanana
Gusmão are the main foundation of this collective project.

The Oé-Cusse ZEESM may therefore be a reference to other
development hubs to be established throughout the territory of
Timor-Leste, in the medium and long terms.  I'm convinced that
Timor-Leste chose the right path towards integrated and sustainable
socio-economic development.

This model and its implementation in Oé-Cusse allow our country
a greater connection to our neighbours, especially eastern Indonesia
and northern Australia. I'm convinced that everyone wins with this
type of approach.  Life has taught us that every initiative has pros
and cons. Every coin has two sides. I'm convinced that Mr Alkatiri and
those responsible for the Special Autonomous Region of Oé-Cusse
Ambeno will be able to find the best solutions for our citizens in

The result before us is an indicator that shows our ability to find
more and better solutions in the future!

Congratulations to Oé-Cusse!

Congratulations to Timor-Leste!

I wish you success!

Thank you for your attention!