By looking at Timor-Leste’s status quo of social, political, and economic conditions since the independence, it has been true to the fact that unemployment is rampant, social service is ineffective, societal basic need is insufficient, and poverty is increasing. The government has attempted to implement decentralization, hoping to escape from these issues. The decentralization policy that was presented by the Ministry of State Administration is considered a remedy. At the outset of decentralization draft in 2006, Timor-Leste’s national leaders, local leaders, such as sub-district and district administrators, and government agencies have been working together to implement decentralization. This essay focuses on brief details of the decentralization policy in Timor-Leste, the importance of the policy, and issues regarding the policy. The implementation of the decentralization policy might positively impact political authority, social well-being, and economic status of Timor-Leste, along with possible challenges that might be faced at the initial implementation.
The decentralization policy was formulated by the Minister of State Administration with the help of other government agencies. A year after independence in 2002, the government planned to implement decentralization in order to establish a strong, democratic, and efficient local-based government. The policy states that “[t]he law proposal shall include provision and criteria for the establishment of new municipalities in the future” (2) . These multiple jurisdictions are characterized with numerous objectives. According to the policy orientation guidelines presented by the Ministry of State Administration, the policy “[p]romotes the institutions of a strong, legitimate, and stable state across the territory; promote opportunities for local democratic participation by all citizens; promote more effective, efficient and equitable public service delivery for the social and economic development in the country” (1) . In other words, the policy serves to enhance citizens’ participation in the democratic nation.
The proposed decentralization policy comprises of two main laws as legal framework to build municipalities: the Law on Administrative & Territorial Division, which regulates land and the identity of the municipalities, and the Law on Local Government which regulates the structures of the local government, such as the legislature and executive arrangements and administrative units. This law also defines and regulates the function of local government, determining the local government finances and the role of central government (5).
Based on the decentralization policy guideline, these municipals will be structured with two distinct institutions, such as the municipal assembly and the municipal administration. The assemblies will be elected as the legislatures of the municipality who will possess power in legislative decision making and the mayor will be elected to manage municipal...