Nobel peace prize recipient and former Timor-Leste president Dr José Ramos-Horta has shared his dream of turning the small Asia-Pacific nation into a regional centre for financial services.
Speaking exclusively with InvestorDaily sister title ifa, Dr José Ramos-Horta said Timor-Leste possesses a number of characteristics that make it well-suited to economic expansion and a larger presence in global and regional financial markets.
“I have been arguing … for a while now [that] Timor-Leste be a small financial centre in south-east Asia,” Dr Ramos-Horta said.
“Why not? We're strategically located. Our taxes are among the lowest in the world. We have good liquidity. We have $16 billion in our sovereign fund. How can we harness this and turn Timor-Leste into a respectable financial centre in south-east Asia?”
The Nobel laureate is seeking the assistance of Australian investors and financial professionals in making his dream of a Timorese financial services centre a reality.
“We need to really have more Australian private sector companies coming to Timor-Leste,” he said. “Financial services [providers] of Australia could come to Timor-Leste as a group, as individuals, meet with our government, our banking sector, and provide strategic advice on how Timor can better manage our financial situation.”
In particular, the former president listed the Timorese pension system as an area of the country’s economy and government infrastructure that requires external advice.
He said reforming the pension system and making the economy more investment-centric are key priorities for Timorese Prime Minister Mari Alkatiri, alongside curbing public spending.
To view the full interview with Dr Ramos-Horta, click here.