Oil plan stalled as East Timor president vetoes state budget

January 23, 2019 - 6:00 am

DILI, East Timor (AP) — East Timor's president has vetoed the government's budget, possibly jeopardizing plans to develop the Greater Sunrise oil and gas field, seen as crucial to the impoverished country's future.

President Francisco Guterres Lu Olo said Wednesday the 2019 budget agreed to by the parliament in December would drag the country further into deficit and force it to draw down reserves from an oil riches fund at an unsustainable rate.

He said the $2.1 billion budget was unbalanced, devoting too much to buying foreign oil assets and too little to health, education and other public services.

East Timor agreed in October to buy a 30 percent stake in the Greater Sunrise field off its southern coast from ConocoPhillips for $350 million.

Guterres said parliament now must revise the budget.

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