Millennium Challenge ‘Deserves Chance To Show What It Can Do, Editorial Says
When President Bush announced the Millennium Challenge Account in 2002, it "sounded like a promising new approach to foreign aid" because it would provide funds "only to governments that could meet strict standards of efficiency and accountability," a Washington Post editorial says. MCA would "do so based on the countries' own expressed needs, not development fads or political fealty to" the U.S., the editorial adds. Although MCA still is a "sound concept," the initiative might be "approaching an institutional crossroads," according to the Post. Bush "originally said that he hoped to be sending $5 billion a year to poor countries" by 2006 -- a pledge that has not come "close to being realized" -- the editorial says. It adds that "Congress took two years to pass legislation setting up the program." Since then, the Bush administration's "annual budget requests have never reached $5 billion, and Congress has consistently shaved them even further," according to the Post.
In addition, the "slow rate" of spending under MCA is an "unfortunate consequence" of the program's "sensible policies: it won't write a check until recipients can document their capacity to use it appropriately, and for many poor countries making reforms and dealing" with the program's "paperwork take time," the editorial adds. "Given the intense competition for foreign-aid resources, impatience with Millennium Challenge is understandable and even helpful, if it forces" the program to "fix its sometimes burdensome procedures," the editorial says, adding, "But it is too early to start slashing a program that has been in business for only three years and still deserves a chance to show what it can do" (Washington Post, 7/16).