— US Ambassador
The Millennium Challenge Corporation is keenly interested in Guyana’s threshold programme and is looking forward with great anticipation to Guyana’s ongoing efforts to successfully implement the stipulated reforms.
This is according to Vice President and General Counsel of the Corporation, Geoff ‘William’ Anderson, at the launching of the Guyana Threshold Country Plan/Implementation Project (GTCP/IP) at the International Conference Centre on Wednesday.
In his address, Anderson said that through programmes like the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), the US Government shows its readiness to help countries help themselves reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth.
As an innovative approach to foreign aid, the Millennium Challenge Corporation provides grants, not loans, Anderson said, from the American people to countries that practise good governance, fight corruption, make investments in the health and education of their citizens, and promote economic freedom.
This creates a foundation upon which poverty can be reduced through sustained economic growth and contribute to stability and security, he said.
To date, the corporation has signed funding agreements (which are called compacts) totaling $6.3 billion with 18 countries around the world.
While these large-scale compacts are with countries that pass MCC’s eligibility criteria, which consists of 17 measures of political, economic, and social policy performance taken from independent sources, the threshold programmes are with countries that are firmly committed to improving their performance on MCC’s eligibility criteria, he added.
Countries in the MCC threshold programme are enacting the often tough reforms necessary to address specific areas for improvement.
MCC has committed over $440 million in threshold programmes in 19 countries worldwide, Guyana being one of them.
“We have a two-year $6.7M threshold programme that seeks to improve Guyana’s performance on MCC’s Fiscal Policy indicator, where this country still faces some of its key challenges to development.”
Guyana’s threshold programme is working to overhaul fiscal policies in order to create a more business-friendly environment, since private enterprise, ultimately, is the true engine of sustainable economic growth that can lift communities out of poverty, he added.
The programme seeks to help reduce Guyana’s fiscal deficit by improving revenue performance, enhancing expenditure management and control, and improving fiduciary oversight.
It also seeks to improve the business environment by streamlining business registration and investment facilitation services while at the same time provide capacity building and institutional strengthening to the participating agencies.
Also addressing the gathering at the launching were President Bharrat Jagdeo; United States Ambassador to Guyana, John Jones; and Finance Minister Dr Ashni Singh.
The US Ambassador said that the Threshold Programme assistance is meant to improve policy performance.
He noted that it is meant to help countries address their policy weaknesses.
“We want the benefits of the assistance to long outlive the provision of the assistance funds themselves. Our Threshold Programme partnership demonstrates a fundamental understanding that performance-based development assistance is key to sustainable economic growth.”
Guyana’s Threshold Programme is primarily designed to strengthen tax administration and implementation which would provide the basis for private sector-led, sustainable economic growth.
“For there to be broad-based participation and a flourishing economy, however, there must be certain preconditions…particularly a stable democracy.
“In this respect, governance issues such as the rule of law, transparency, and accountability must be promoted as a matter of priority.”
This suggests the need for good leadership, national unity, and a clear vision for the future, the US Ambassador said.
“The evidence has shown that countries that were genuinely committed to reform have been the most successful at implementing their MCA programmes.”
Guyana was approved for MCA participation in 2005.
A Concept Paper was developed and submitted to the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) in March of that year, stressing the need for a comprehensive approach for addressing the two key indicators which were not passed by the country.
The Threshold Country Plan was approved in August 2007 by the MCC Board and the project’s implementation commenced on January 14 last.
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