Thursday, March 25, 2010
MCC TO WAIT FOR NEW RP PRESIDENT, DELAYS $400-M GRANT
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will wait for the results of the Philippine elections before acting on the country’s Compact proposal.
The Philippines stands to get as much as $434 million in poverty and corruption-fighting grants from an MCC Compact agreement.
“The MCC Board deferred final consideration of the compact proposal in order to engage with the incoming administration to secure their commitment to the ideals and principles of MCC and to the compact’s objectives and implementation,” an MCC statement read.
The MCC Board of Directors, chaired by State Secretary Hillary Clinton, held its quarterly review on Wednesday (March 24).
“At our meeting, the MCC Board praised the Government of the Philippines for their hard work in developing this innovative compact proposal,” the statement added.
“The MCC and the Government of the Philippines have been working together to develop an MCC compact proposal focused on reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth,” they explained.
A proposed five-year Compact agreement will finance a community-based rural development program focusing on poor areas that’s expected to help five million Filipinos; a 220-kilometer road building and rehabilitation project that’s expected to benefit the most depressed barangays of Eastern Visayas; and computerization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue which is aimed at improving collections while reducing opportunities for graft and corruption.
“We look forward to the incoming Philippine government to demonstrate its commitment to MCC principles and the compact before final consideration,” declared MCC Chief Executive Officer Daniel W. Yohannes.
The MCC Board’s decision comes weeks after a delegation of influential Filipino-American leaders led by businesswoman Loida Nicolas Lewis spoke with Secretary Clinton.
The Fil-Am leaders had sought Mrs. Clinto’s help to convince President Obama to send top-level observers for the upcoming Philippine national elections.
They told Secretary Clinton their fears that the May 10 polls was allegedly being rigged to fail to extend President Arroyo’s hold on power.
They pointed to alleged shortcomings in preparations and putting up adequate safeguards for the Philippine’s first-ever computerized elections. The Fil-Am leaders were alarmed by the sudden spate of power outages as well as what they saw as the increased militarization of President Arroyo’s administration.
Secretary Clinton had told them at the time that she would look into their allegations.
Lewis is a supporter of Liberal Party standard bearer Noynoy Aquino.
Lewis and members of the delegation later provided a ranking State Department official the details of their allegations.
The Philippine also flunked the corruption test again during the Fiscal 2010 review period.
The country’s scorecard also fell in the Rule of Law yardstick as well as immunization rates, health expenditures, primary education expenditures, girls’ primary education completion and business start-up categories compared to Fiscal 2009.
Nevertheless, Philippine Ambassador Willy Gaa vowed to “continue working on the Compact to ensure that the gains achieved by the Arroyo administration will be sustained until the next administration.”
He predicted the MCC Compact “will soon add a new and exciting dimension to the multifaceted Philippine-US partnership.”
The envoy added that this was a legacy “which lie at the heart of the Millennium Challenge account program.”