By Staff Writers

Maseru, Dec 10 (The Night’s Watch) – At its quarterly meeting on Tuesday, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors re-selected Lesotho to continue developing a second compact – MCC’s five-year grant program – to reduce poverty through targeted investments that increase economic growth.

“As part of their annual selection process, MCC’s Board of Directors reselected Burkina Faso, Indonesia, Lesotho, Malawi, Timor-Leste, and Tunisia to continue developing bilateral compacts,” MCC announced in a statement yesterday.

It added that: “This allows MCC to continue working with these countries to determine if there are potential regional programs that meet MCC’s strict investment criteria that could be supported through concurrent compacts.”

The statement further disclosed that the MCC Board of Directors selected Mozambique for a new compact.

The Board also selected Kenya for an MCC threshold program – the agency’s smaller grant program focused on policy and institutional reform.

MCC was created in 2004 as a new and different model of development assistance – one focused on reducing poverty through economic growth.

Built on the lessons of decades of development experience, MCC provides time-limited grants to developing countries that meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting democratic rights, as evaluated on MCC’s scorecard.

MCC takes a business-like approach, with bedrock commitments to data, accountability, and evidence-based decisions.

Its investments are improving the lives of millions of people around the world.

MCC signed the first compact with Lesotho worth $362.5 million in July 2007.

By the end of the compact in September 2013, Lesotho and MCC had spent nearly 99 percent of anticipated compact funds to improve water supply, increase access to essential health services, and remove barriers to private sector investment.

The first compact funded work with other international donors on the infrastructure improvement projects like the Metolong Dam, as well as work with the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) to mitigate the negative economic impacts of poor maternal health, HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and other diseases.

In December 2013, Lesotho was initially selected to develop a second compact, however, the MCC’s Board deferred its vote on continued eligibility in 2015 and 2016.

Following that two-year hiatus, the board re-selected Lesotho in 2017 as eligible to develop a second compact.

This decision was taken in recognition of concrete steps taken that year that demonstrated a commitment to addressing MCC’s concerns about rule of law.

In February this year, the United States Ambassador Rebecca E. Gonzales indicated that although great strides had been made on the way to the finish line of finally signing a second MCC compact in the future, reports of corruption in government and police brutality continued to threaten the compact’s future.

On June 27, on the occasion of the United States’s Independence Day Celebration, Gonzales reiterated that she was deeply concerned by indications that “corruption is on the rise”; that “political space is shrinking”, that institutions of accountability, which must be independent and properly resourced, “are being politicized and undermined”.

She said she was concerned for rule of law and for the reforms process.

“Failure to implement reforms – the comprehensive, transformative, and inclusive reforms that Basotho have identified for themselves as the way to reach the Lesotho they want – failure to implement those reforms could have far worse consequences for Basotho than interrupted compact development,” she said.

Those consequences, Gonzales said, could last far beyond our current generation.

“When we act like we have all the time in the world, we are really borrowing time from our children and grandchildren.  With the speed and complexity of today’s technology, a moment’s delay can put us years behind.

“Lesotho cannot afford such delays.  Your country’s future cannot be left behind with fingers pointing to a pile of roadmaps or draft legislation collecting dust.  All of you here have the power to act, to determine whether or not this country stays on the right path.

“As the representative of your long-standing and most steadfast diplomatic partner, I implore you to take action and move forward with commitment, accountability, and urgency on the reforms process. The future of your nation depends on it and time is short to demonstrate progress,” she said.

The MCC Board also reselected Ethiopia and Solomon Islands to continue developing threshold programs.

The Board also reaffirmed its commitment to developing a compact with Kosovo – a self-declared independent country in the Balkans region of Europe.

Although the United States and most members of the European Union (EU) recognized Kosovo’s declaration of independence from Serbia in 2008, Serbia, Russia, and a significant number of other countries – including several EU members – did not.

Given this lack of international consensus, Kosovo was not immediately admitted to the United Nations (UN).

In 2010 the International Court of Justice ruled that Kosovo’s declaration of independence did not violate international law, but Serbia rejected that decision. NW

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