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14.06.2007 General News

Disbursements Under MCA

The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) is one of the most productive policies introduced by the United States of America to help promote development in Third World countries.

Whereas the rationale for the scheme is noble and laudable, the conditions for qualification and disbursement are not that friendly to the poor.

In the end, the release of the fund is tied to the performance of governments, rather than the needs of the people. Thus a project intended to be centred around poor people is anchored on the performance of governments.

But the slow pace of the release of funds under the MCA is not an isolated one. That is one strand which characterises and underlines the process of support from the West generally to the Third World and especially Africa.

If all the programmes and projects that the Group of Eight (G-8) has proffered to Africa have been implemented expeditiously and with commitment, the level of transformation on the continent would have been greater than it is.

Whether multilateral or bilateral support, it takes years and demands for stringent conditionalities before progress is made towards the implementation of programmes. That way, efficiency is sacrificed and that affects effectiveness as well.

The carnage in Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Liberia and currently Somalia and Darfur in the Sudan would have been ameliorated before they became destructive if they had affected other regions in the world, especially Europe.

But because it was Africa, the world could wait.

These are the considerations which have informed us to resonate the appeal by the ECOWAS Commission President, Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, that the funds under the MCA must be released quickly to benefit the people who have been named to receive the package.

The MCA is a voluntary offer. Therefore, it must not be so encumbered as to become a disincentive. For, if care is not taken, it would look as if the donors are saying that they do not trust our leaders and that until they are satisfied, the money will not be released.

That would be akin to the Ghanaian saying of asking a hungry person to come and take food into his or her big mouth. We say that is not an insult but it is.

Indeed, donors have the right to demand that their contributions or gifts are put to better use. But it is not fair to exact stringent conditions before the offers are made. Recipients of gifts must have some freedom as to how the gifts are utilised. Otherwise, they cease to be gifts.

It is our hope and prayer that funds under the MCA would be released in good time to enable beneficiaries to make the best use of the opportunities offered them.

We in Ghana have had our own experiences as to how the delays in the release of funds intended to support agriculture at times undermine agricultural production and become financial burdens on beneficiaries.

Since the MCA is intended to help beneficiaries to grow and eliminate poverty, the funds must be released timeously. Otherwise, the beneficiaries may be made lame ducks when things fail.