A project funded by the European Union and Portugal on Tuesday announced two new programme to support journalists in East Timor during the Covid-19 pandemic, fostering the production of news articles on the use and supervision of public finances.
The initiatives, which are in addition to support previously given, are within the framework of the Partnership to Improve Service Delivery through Enhanced Public Finance Management and Supervision in East Timor (PFMO).
“Considering the current situation of the Covid-19 pandemic and the declaration of a state of emergency, the media and Timorese journalists are in a difficult situation, with the risk of a reduction in their activities, loss of their revenues and a reduction in the salaries of journalists,” states a note from the PFMO sent to Lusa.
The situation in the sector, which was already facing problems with revenues, has been worsening and there is even the possibility of media outlets closing.
Against that backdrop, the PFMO says, it wanted “to collaborate with the authorities and media of East Timor, through special support measures to help Timorese media and journalists.”
The measures include financial incentives “for the production of articles, news and reports by journalists” on matters “linked to the supervision of public finances and the use of public and budgetary resources.” This “incentive for journalistic production and activity in times of global crisis” provides for payment for each article written and published, or radio and television piece, on indicated topics, with a defined minimum size.
The programme is open to all accredited media professionals who have published work on this subject in the last six months.
In parallel, the PFMO also announced a second programme, aimed at 30 journalists under the age of 35, to last three months and of “professional character, for the beginning and deepening of professional experience in a working context” Timor’s media sector. As part of this internship scheme, it is also to support a group of 15 mentors and trainers in current media – at a time that the PFMO notes is one of “scarcity of resources” in the local sector.
This second programme is open to “current or future media, journalism and other media professionals, including specialised technicians, translators, graphics, paginators and sound and image technicians.”
Financed by the EU and Portugal’s Camões-Instituto de Cooperação e da Língua, and implemented by latter, the PFMO programme is a partnership to improve the quality of public service provision by strengthening the management and supervision of public finances.
It includes a component aimed at improving public finance management mechanisms and instruments, with direct EU budget support to the value of €17 million.
The second component, to the value of €12 million, is aimed at strengthening the supervision of public finances, strengthening national institutions and ensuring the capacity building of staff and technicians from eight East Timor partners – parliament, the
Chamber of Accounts, the office of the attorney-general, the Anti-Corruption Commission (CAC), the Scientific Criminal Investigation Police (PCIC) and the State General Inspectorate (IGE).
Support is also given to journalists and civil society to strengthen the process of public oversight of state accounts.