Wednesday, March 12, 2008

from KGMA on Millenium Challenge Corporation

From: "kgma_news"
Date: March 12, 2008 4:28:36 AM EDT
To: kgma@yahoogroups.com
Subject: [kgma] PGMA deeply honored and pleased with RP’s eligibility for the MCC compact
Reply-To: kgma@yahoogroups.com

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo said today government's efforts to
ensure sustainable economic development and fight poverty got a big
boost with the Millennium Challenge Corporation's (MCC) announcement
that the Philippines is now eligible to apply for an MCC Compact.

The good news from the MCC, an official US government corporation
designed to help developing countries like the Philippines fight
poverty, douses cold water on a survey that the Philippines is the
most corrupt nation in Asia since one of the major criteria for
eligibility for an MCC Compact is transparency in policies and has
made fighting corruption its highest priorities as it believes that
corruption undermines every aspect of sustainable development.

"I am deeply honored and pleased that our efforts are paying off and
have been recognized in Washington, D.C.," the President said in a
statement.

"This is a great day for the Philippines and the actions by the
Millennium Challenge Corporation offer a remarkable validation of the
efforts of our government and nation to invest in our people, fight
corruption and encourage economic freedom. These are the hallmarks of
my administration, and I am absolutely thrilled to be so recognized
for consideration by this prestigious and serious-minded corporation
of the US government," the President added.

The MCC Compact is a large-scale grant funding based on independent
indicators that measure good governance, the country's investments in
its people and policies that encourage economic freedom.

The Chief Executive said the P1.227- trillion 2008 national budget
which she signed into law Tuesday "dedicates itself to investing in
our people and lifting up our poor," which is in consonance with the
primary goal of the MCC.

She added that the selection of the Philippines as eligible for the
MCC Compact is "an opportunity that can bring hundreds of millions of
dollars to our nation to lift our nation out of poverty."

The war against poverty is the overarching goal of the Arroyo
administration.

The President's statement quoted MCC CEO Ambassador John Danilovich
in his "dramatic announcement" as saying: "Congratulations to the
Government of the Philippines for its demonstrated commitment to
tackling difficult challenges and improving the lives of its people.
While eligibility is an essential first step towards a poverty
reduction grant from the MCC, selection does not guarantee funding.
The Philippines, like all other countries eligible for the compact,
must maintain its performance on the MCC selection criteria and must
now begin a broad-based consultative process with its people to
develop a proposal that addresses the country's barriers to poverty
reduction and economic growth. As partners, we agree that ending
corruption and finding long-term ways to reduce poverty are urgent
priorities that deserve our full attention."

"I believe that if we can all come together, redouble our efforts and
continue to meet the criteria of the MCC, the long term benefit to
our nation will be the best gift I can leave this nation when I step
down in 2010," the President stressed.

The MCC was established in January 2004, based on the "principle that
aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic
freedom and investments in people." MCC's mission is to reduce global
poverty through the promotion of sustainable economic growth.

Countries that have demonstrated significant improvement in policy
indicators but do not yet qualify for a compact grant may be eligible
for a threshold program, a smaller grant designed to improve
performance on specific indicators.

The Philippines was a recipient of some $21-million (P1.1 billion)
grant on July 26, 2006, through the Millennium Challenge Account in
recognition of the bold steps taken by government to eradicate
corruption and attract international investments through the
Millennium Challenge Account Threshold Program (MCATP).

The MCATP, which ran for two years, funded programs that was aimed at
reducing corruption by strengthening the Office of the Ombudsman, the
government agency primarily responsible in prosecuting corrupt
government officials, and intensify the enforcement of anti-graft
programs of the Department of Finance (DOF), namely, the Revenue
Integrity Protection Service (RIPS), Run After Tax Evaders (RATE),
and the Run After The Smugglers (RATS).

Under the MCATP, $6.5 million or P338 million was allotted to the
Office of the Ombudsman for the training of its employees, the
establishment of an information management system and enhancement of
its investigative and surveillance capabilities.

The RATE program received $9.4 million (P489 million), RATS, $3.1
million (P161 million), while RIPS was allocated $1.4 million (P73
million).

Under the grant agreement, $250,000 (P13 million) was utilized for
the monitoring and evaluation of the MCATP to ensure that it
conformed with MCC standards.

The MCC was established by US President George W. Bush at the turn of
the millennium to "reward countries that govern well," the President
said during the signing ceremony in 2006, adding thus far that only a
handful of countries all over the world have qualified for the MCC
grant.

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