Transcript of Bush Remarks at Ceremony Celebrating Countries Selecte

U.S. Newswire (press release), DC
May 10 2004

Transcript of Bush Remarks at Ceremony Celebrating Countries Selected
for the Millennium Challenge Account

To: National Desk
Contact: White House Press Office, 202-456-2580

WASHINGTON, May 10 /U.S. Newswire/ — Following is a transcript of
remarks by President Bush at a Ceremony Celebrating Countries
Selected for the Millennium Challenge Account:

The East Room

9:35 A.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Please be seated. Welcome.
Thanks for coming to the White House.

Two years ago, I announced a new and hopeful approach in America’s
aid to developing nations. Under this approach, America has pledged
to increase development assistance by 50 percent over three years. To
make sure that governments make the right choices for their people,
we link new aid to clear standards of economic, political, and social
reform. We invited governments in developing nations to meet those
standards so that they may truly serve their people.

America formed the Millennium Challenge Corporation to oversee this
new program. Last week, the first group of Millennium Challenge
Account nations was selected. I congratulate representatives with
us today from Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Ghana,
Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua,
Senegal, Sri Lanka, and Vanuatu. You have chosen the path of reform,
and your people and your nations are better off as a result of the
decisions your governments have made.

I want to thank the Secretary of State for leading this effort. He is
the chairman of the board of the new corporation. I appreciate other
board members who are with us — Secretary John Snow, the Secretary
of the Treasury; Ambassador Bob Zoellick, the United States Trade
Representative; Andrew Natsios, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency
for International Development; and Paul Applegarth, who is the CEO
of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

Mr. Chairman, thank you for taking on this important assignment.

I want to welcome the ambassadors and representatives from the
16 Millennium Challenge Account nations. We are glad you’re here.

I want to thank the members of Congress who are here. Two members have
come today, one from the Senate and one from the House, who have been
very instrumental in making sure the Millennium Challenge Account
passed through both bodies. First, Senator Dick Lugar, who is the
chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Mr. Chairman,
Senator Lugar is a clear visionary when it comes to U.S. aid. I
appreciate you being here, Senator. Thank you for coming. As well as
Congressman Tom Lantos, the ranking member. I see you brought Annette
with you. Thank you for doing so. We’re proud you both are here.

Congressman Lantos, do me a favor. When you see Jim Kolbe, who is not
with us today, thank him for working so hard to make sure that the
House appropriations process honored our request for the Millennium
Challenge Account. But at any rate, I’m glad you’re here. You guys
are great leaders for — to help America spread our vision of freedom
and peace and decency for every human being.

In many nations, poverty remains chronic and desperate. Half the
world’s people still live on less than $2 a day. This divide between
wealth and poverty, between opportunity and misery, is far more than
a challenge to our compassion. Persistent poverty and oppression can
spread despair across an entire nation, and they can turn nations
of great potential into the recruiting grounds of terrorists. The
powerful combination of trade and open markets and good government is
history’s proven method to defeat poverty on a large scale, to vastly
improve health and education, to build a modern infrastructure while
safeguarding the environment, and to spread the habits of liberty
and enterprise.

The Millennium Challenge Account encourages all nations to embrace
political and economic reform. The United States has pledged to
increase its core development assistance by half, adding $5 billion
annually by 2006. To be eligible for this new money, nations must
root out corruption, respect human rights, and adhere to the rule of
law. They must invest in their people by improving their health care
systems and their schools. They must unleash the energy and creativity
necessary for economic growth by opening up their markets, removing
barriers to entrepreneurship, and reducing excessive bureaucracy
and regulation.

The 16 nations represented here today have done all this and more.
Each has worked hard to be here today, and their efforts are
already yielding results. For example, Madagascar is aggressively
fighting corruption. The Ministry of Justice has suspended a dozen
magistrates on suspicion of corrupt activity. The government is also
implementing an ambitious program of judicial reform. Senegal, Africa’s
longest-standing democracy, has also enacted new anti-corruption
laws, and is implementing new measures to fight money-laundering.
Honduras has made the improvement of education and health services
a top priority. Its immunization rate of 96 percent is among the
highest of all eligible countries.

The new government of Georgia has doubled its investment in health
care and raised teacher salaries by two-thirds. Mozambique has curbed
government spending and lowered tariffs. These, and other reforms,
have resulted in double-digit growth rates over the last decade.
Since launching its program of economic reform in 2002, Sri Lanka
has reduced its budget deficit by a third, and cut inflation by half.
Other nations represented here can point with pride to similar examples
of progress.

Yet funding is not guaranteed for any selected country. To be awarded a
grant, nations must develop proposals explaining how they will further
address the needs of their people, and increase economic growth —
proposals that set clear goals and measurable benchmarks.

The countries selected today represent a small fraction of those
struggling to emerge from poverty and establish reform. I urge all
nations of the world to follow the progressive standards of governing
justly, investing in people and encouraging economic freedom.

Reform can bring more aid from America, and it will also bring more
investment and more trade, lessening the need for aid over time.
Reform will be repaid many times over in the relief of poverty,
and rising national wealth and stability for their countries.

The 16 chosen in this round are showing the way, are showing what is
possible, are serving as a bright light in the developing world. You
have taken the first courageous steps toward greater independence
and greater wealth, and greater hopes for the people you serve.

I want to thank you all for being here. I congratulate you on
your work. And may God bless your countries and the people in the
countries. Thank you for coming. (Applause.)