Efforts To Build Capacity, Raise Standards ‘Sets MCC Apart’ From Other Aid Programs, Letter to Editor Says
A Dec. 7 New York Times article that examined the Millennium Challenge Corporation's process of delivering aid to foreign countries did not "mention essential elements" of MCC's "efforts to help the people of the world's poorest countries through economic growth," MCC CEO John Danilovich writes in a Times letter to the editor (Danilovich, New York Times, 12/14).
The article said that MCC's "slow pace" in launching development projects worldwide has made it "politically vulnerable at budget crunch time." MCC -- which aims to encourage economic and political reforms in developing countries -- to date has spent $155 million of the $4.8 billion it has approved for projects in 15 countries in Africa, Central America and other regions. Both the House and Senate have reduced Presidents Bush's fiscal year 2008 budget request for the program, and the Senate is pushing for a change that African leaders say threatens the essence of the agency's novel approach.
The Senate has proposed that Congress provide no more than half the financing up-front for future five-year projects, which usually total about $250 million to $700 million. Currently, such projects initially are fully financed. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chair of the Senate appropriations subcommittee on foreign aid, said that Congress could provide the remaining funds if recipient countries successfully carry out projects (Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report, 12/10).
"From the Marshall Plan to the modern-day battle to fight AIDS," U.S. efforts to provide assistance are "founded on the principle that economic progress and democratic governments are the bedrock for building long-term stability and prosperity," Danilovich writes, adding that MCC's "unique approach to poverty reduction builds on this idea." He adds that by "delivering assistance in tranches based on measurable progress," MCC "builds capacity within a country and raises the local standard for how a government should manage projects."
Danilovich writes that "what sets MCC apart" from other aid programs is that its efforts should "be measured not only by dollars disbursed, but also by expanding the ability of the recipient country to take ownership of the project, commit to its sustainability and involve its people in the process" (New York Times, 12/14).