31.05.2004 General News

US technical team to assist Ghana on MCA

31.05.2004 LISTEN

Accra, May 31, GNA - A technical team from the United States will be in Ghana next week to assist in the preparation of a Compact agreement to facilitate Government's access to the Millennium Challenge Account.

Mr John B.Taylor, The visiting US Treasury Under Secretary for International Affairs, announced this at a meeting with officials of Ghana's Finance Ministry on Monday.

Ghana is one of the 16 eligible countries selected to benefit from the first tranche of one billion dollars from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA).

Mr Taylor said the MCA's goal was President George Bush's vision to assist developing countries with good policies in areas of governance; education and economic freedom to enable them to enhance growth and reduce poverty.

He said Ghana was chosen because of her creditable performance in the various categories.

Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance and Economic Planning said Government was happy about the criteria since it reinforced the role of governments' aim to ensure the well-being of the citizenry.

He said it was only good that countries advancing the welfare of their citizenry were provided 'dividend' for performing well. The Minister said the list of Ghana's priority projects to be funded from the MCA would be taken from the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy. The MCA is a new initiative by the United States Government to channel development assistance to developing countries in the form of grants. The approach is borne out of the concern that development is best enhanced in an atmosphere of sound political, social and economic policies.

An amount of one billion dollars is currently available to be accessed by the 16 countries based on the approval of the compact agreement to be submitted by those eligible.

Ghana acceded to the MCA by passing all but three of the 16 indicators for qualification.

The unsuccessful areas were budget deficit, number of days it took to start business and trade policy.

The median deficit is -3.40 per cent of GDP for MCA countries, but Ghana's average deficit fixed at -6.52 per cent.

On trade policy, Ghana scored four out of a rating of one to five while it took 85 days to start business instead of the MCA's target of 21 days.

Ghana passed all the six indicators under the ruling justly criterion, including civil liberties, political rights, voice and accountability and rule, as against the minimum requirement of three. Other criteria were investing in people, establishing economic freedom, regulatory quality and country credit ratings, in which Ghana scored high on immunization rate, primary education, completion rate and public primary education spending as percent of GDP. May 31 04

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