MCA-Eligible Countries ‘Proud’ of Recognition, Aid Official Says

MCA-Eligible Countries ‘Proud’ of Recognition, Aid Official Says

United States Department of State (Washington, DC)

July 20, 2004
Posted to the web July 21, 2004

Washington, DC

Enthusiastic about country ownership concept, Applegarth adds

The 16 developing countries selected as the first eligible to submit
proposals for supplemental aid from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)
are “uniformly proud” of being recognized for their accomplishments in
implementing political and economic reforms, says John Applegarth, head of
the agency that administers the fund.

Speaking July 20 at the start of the quarterly meeting of the Millennium
Challenge Corporation (MCC) in Washington, Applegarth added that the 16 also
are enthusiastic about the concept of “country ownership” of development
priorities that is at the core of the MCA program.

Applegarth said MCC teams recently visited all 16 nations to review with
government officials how their proposals for MCA funding will be evaluated.
The teams also communicated to members of civil society, the private sector
and the general public in each country how they can participate in the
proposal-development process.

The MCA is the administration’s supplemental aid program for developing
countries that meet certain political and economic standards. The House of
Representatives July 15 approved funding the account at $1.25 billion in the
fiscal year beginning October 1 (FY05), an amount that is 25 percent more
than the current, first-year spending.

Applegarth gave examples of how selected countries are altering their views
of receiving aid from the United States. A senior official in Armenia, he
said, stated that his country’s inclusion in the program helped it focused
more strongly on governing, governance and democracy.

Cape Verde is treating its selection as MCA-eligible as the country’s
third-most-significant achievement after gaining independence from Portugal
and making the transition to democracy, he said.

Applegarth said there are no specific timelines for countries to submit
funding proposals. The countries want to “stop, take stock and rethink about
how they could really use this new resource,” he said.

Secretary of State Colin Powell, who conducted the meeting as chair of the
MCC, said countries that were not selected have asked: “What did we do wrong
or what is it we have to do right to get into this game?”

“We lay it out for them,” he said. “You can be a recipient, you can work out
a compact [agreement] with us, but you have got to do the right things” to
create conditions for attracting investment and trade, he said.

The MCA is “the most significant development program since the [post-World
War II] Marshall Plan,” he said.

Powell added that the MCA is in addition to and not at the expense of other
aid programs administered by the U.S. Agency for International Development

The 16 selected countries are Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia,
Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua,
Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu.