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12.06.2006 Politics

The Millennium Challenge Account

By Accra Dail Mail
The Millennium Challenge Account
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The NDC is mounting a disingenuous campaign aimed at stalling the good progress made so far by the government of Ghana drawing from the Millennium Challenge Account. The Millennium Challenge Account. (MCA) promises and indeed has the potential of serving as an impetus for a sustained accelerated socio-economic growth of Ghana if implemented. This potential is sending shivers down the spine of the NDC and this is their sole and only motivation for their recent actions and utterances to try and trash it if they can. Nothing else is their motivation.

Three Members of Parliament from the NDC have questioned why the Upper East and Upper West Regions were excluded from projects to be undertaken with the Millennium Challenge Account

The three - Mr. Edward Salia, (NDC) Jirapa; Mr. Moses Asaga, (NDC-Nabdam) and Mr. Alban Bagbin, the Minority Leader have questioned Dr Paa Kwesi Nduom, Minister of Public Sector Reforms, on the criteria used to select areas to benefit from the projects.

Iddrisu Mahama has been quoted as saying that the NDC will make representations to America to stop the funding for the programme and the Minority NDC in parliament says it has plans of petitioning the American Congress over the selection of beneficiary communities for the Millennium Challenge Account.

Let us put the NDC criticism into perspectives by reminding Ghanaians what the MCA is about and why the NDC have sworn to see it fail.

In March 2002, President Bush called for a "new compact for global development," which links greater contributions from developed nations to greater responsibility from developing nations. The President proposed a concrete mechanism to implement this compact -- the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) - in which development assistance would be provided to those countries that rule justly, invest in their people, and encourage economic freedom. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was established on January 23, 2004 to administer the MCA.

The US Congress provided nearly $1 billion in initial funding for 2004 and $1.5 billion for 2005. President Bush then requested $3 billion for 2006 and pledged to increase annual funding for the MCA to $5 billion in the future.

Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC)'s ideal is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces governments that exhibit good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of extreme poverty. It is based on these ideals that the MCC chose Ghana as one of the countries to benefit from the MCA among 16 others world wide.

It reinforces the policies of the NPP government of Ghana and President Kufour's vision to make Ghana a middle income country by the year 2015. The MCC's commitment to Ghana is the reward for the government's good economic and social policies.

Ghana's MCA qualification suggests that the NPP government has met the benchmark for reward through its policies which include rule of law, investing in the people and encouraging economic freedom and it is against this background that the NDC is determined to see the programme fail.

On August 11 2005, Ghana and MCC signed a grant agreement of up to $3 million to assist Ghana in the continued development of a Millennium Challenge Account Compact. Ghana's Compact proposal aimed to make Ghana a world-class exporter of high value fruit and vegetables through the creation of a strong investment climate. In order to achieve this, the proposal recommended efforts to improve roads, irrigation, training, and access to finance.

Ghana stands to benefit from the MCA in many ways including the reduction of poverty through economic regeneration of focal points such as Savelugu-Nanton in the Northern Region, Awutu-Senya in the Central Region, Afram Plains which cuts Eastern Region, Volta Region, Brong Ahafo and Ashanti Regions. These areas are listed to benefit from agri-businesses, from the grant of 3 million US dollars.

The MCA will focus specifically on promoting sustainable economic growth in the areas to serve the entire northern regions (Northern sector) of Ghana. This will reduce poverty through investments in areas such as agriculture, education, private sector development, and capacity building.

This is the first time a government of Ghana is identifying the barriers to her own development and ensuring a fair distribution of resources to achieve a balanced development, irrespective of the community's support for the government.

The government of Ghana has developed a well-designed programme with clear objectives, benchmarks to measure progress, procedures to ensure fiscal accountability for the use of MCA assistance, and a plan for effective monitoring and objective evaluation of results. The MCA programme drawn by the Ministry of Public Sector Development, is designed to enable Ghana maintain sustainable progress even after the funding under the MCA Compact has ended.

On May 23 2006 the Daily Graphic reported "The Ghana MCA Programme has considered all the problems and opportunities presented and prepared a design that will create value for the nucleus farmer, the small farmers, agricultural inputs suppliers, service providers and agro-industrialists within the five year compact period.

In the final analysis implementation strategies are being designed with a focus on about 50,000 farmers in the 23 participating districts and what they need to make them highly productive and prosperous. It is through these farmers, their families and others along the value chain that will create the conditions to allow about 2 million Ghanaians to directly benefit from the Ghana MCA programme".

The NDC MPs challenge is to create a smoke screen to prevent the government from drawing on the funding. Hon Paa Kwesi Ndoum is leading a delegation to the US to sign the Compact for the release of the funds and the NDC is determined to create a climate that will suggest that there is lack of consensus on how the funds will be disbursed. Their aim is not to fight for the two uppermost regions but their own political future.

The MCA programme drawers took pains in choosing the Northern Region as the northern horticultural base for the programme. The regeneration of the north of Ghana is dear to the NPP government of Ghana. Any such regeneration is for the benefit of three northern regions. It is therefore not true that the Upper East and Upper West regions have been excluded from the MCA programme. This is disingenuous and typically shows the NDC at their best in playing politics with the lives of our people.

We are calling on the MCA secretariat in Accra to intensify its programme of education and explain to all Ghanaians, and within that context, the NDC, the goals of the MCA programme and what benefits its implementation will bring to all the people of Ghana. We hope that when this is done, then all the mischief currently being exhibited by the NDC can really be exposed for what it is really is.

It is very unfortunate that the NDC will spend 2 years on boycotts, demonstrations and irritating distractions and then come with an absurd request calling for a national debate on a well thought out programme within 48 hours of signing the MCA Agreement. Time and tide waits for no man.

Long live and God bless Ghana

Hayford Atta-Krufi
Chairman for and on behalf of NPP UK and Ireland

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