Next Sunday, when he takes office as executive secretary for another two years, at the summit to be held in São Tomé and Príncipe, the Timorese ambassador Zacarias da Costa hopes to have an amending budget approved for the coming years and an increase of around 27 percent of contributions from each of the nine agreed countries, so that it can guarantee the organization an annual budget of 3.2 million euros.
His first term ends within days and he considers it "frankly positive" because the Angolan presidency, which ends now, "has thrown up immense challenges", he said.
But, he underlined, the executive secretariat managed to "fulfill the objectives that the presidency set itself" and find answers for those that the CPLP had ahead of it.
"Particularly, that of adjusting the organization to a different period, post-covid-19, more dynamic, much more full of activities", he stressed.
"Obviously" that, 27 years after being born, the CPLP needed to reorganize the internal structure of the secretariat, "look at the challenge of growth that lies ahead", he concluded.
One of the measures was the creation of the Economic and Business Affairs department, to respond to the new challenges of the fourth pillar of economic cooperation, introduced by Luanda, but also looking "at the shortage of human and financial resources that it was going through".
On the other hand, the countries themselves are more fulfilling than they were a few years ago in their obligations to the CPLP. "Only two of the nine Member States failed to pay this year's quota, but they have already signaled that they were going to do it", underlined the former Timorese Foreign Minister, adding that "annual quotas in arrears do not exist".
In addition to the quotas, the budget for the next year of the CPLP will already have a value higher than that of previous years and, from 2024, if the Member States approve the proposal to increase the contributions, the organization will have more annual values high for its management.
"We, until now, had a budget, which is public, of 2.7 million, but through very prudent management, I would say, somewhat rigorous, also taking into account recruitments that were not made, we always managed to have a margin so that we can face certain contingencies", said Zacarias da Costa.
But, he reinforced: "Obviously that today, with the growth of the secretariat, with the creation of the new Directorate for Economic and Business Affairs, this value has to be adjusted. Adjusted not only because of this new direction, but also because we need it. an organization that has practically stagnated, and we need to adjust it to the new realities and new challenges", a need for which the Member States "are aware", he said.
Recalling that during these two years of the Angolan presidency, "very important" issues were on the table, such as the implementation of the mobility agreement, worked on by the previous presidency, that of Cape Verde, and approved by the nine countries at the summit in Luanda, in 2021, Zacarias da Costa stresses that "the Member States ratified in record time, less than 15 months [the document], and today it is already in force in all".
"Due to the alteration of the laws on foreigners, Portugal, Cape Verde and Mozambique have already done so, but it is hoped that others will also be able to do so shortly".
In addition, the strategic agenda for the consolidation of economic and business cooperation was approved, the new direction was created, the statutes already consecrate this new pillar and there is now a forum for agencies to promote trade and investment", he listed, in a summary of his first term.
For Zacarias da Costa, there are now "more expectations from Member States" in relation to the CPLP, because they feel that "the organization can do much more for them".
"That gives us more strength, but at the same time more responsibility to match", he concluded.
As for the creation of an Investment Bank, spoken by President João Lourenço in his inauguration speech as president for two years of the CPLP, at the Luanda summit, in 2021, it is something that is still under analysis by the technicians.
But he underlined: "Economic cooperation is not limited to the idea of having a financial instrument available to help leverage this great objective".