07.06.2004 Business & Finance

Millennium Challenge Corporation team begins discussions in Accra

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Accra, June7, GNA - A three-man Technical Team from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) on Friday began discussions with their Ghanaian counterparts in Accra on how to fashion an acceptable Compact Agreement for accessing the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA). The team has already been to Cape Verde and Benin.

The MCC are administrators of the one billion dollars Millennium Challenge Account initiated by the US Government for 16 countries, eight of which are in Africa.

Ghana's delegation led by Mr Yaw Osafo-Maafo, Minister of Finance included the Minister of Health, Dr Kwaku Afriyie; Minister of Education, Youth and Sports, Mr Kwadwo Baah Wiredu; Minister of Private Sector Development, Mr Kwamena Bartels; Minister of Roads and Transport, Dr Richard Winfred Anane; Minister of Food and Agriculture, Major Courage Quashigah (rtd) and two technical officers from their respective Ministries.

Ms Mary C. Yates, Ambassador to Ghana led the US delegation comprising Mr Drew Luton, Deputy General Counsel of the MCC and two other officials from the Corporation.

The Compact Agreement represents the proposal that each country must put up for approval by the MCC, which is chaired by Collin Powell, the US Secretary of State.

The MCA would help Ghana and the other 15 nations to reduce poverty, offer real opportunity to access additional funding at minimal cost and inject massive foreign currency into the financial system. Mr Osafo-Maafo said the Compact Agreement, which must be submitted before September, would be influenced by the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper to be put together through a consultative process that would involve nongovernmental organisations (NGOs) and other voluntary organisation and the business community.

Country selection criteria were based on strict transparent process employing multiple economic and social indicators. These are Ruling Justly, Investing in People and how best a government is Encouraging Economic Freedom Indicators.

The MCA is a new instrument by the United States Government in its provision and delivery of development assistance to developing countries in the form of grants.

Congress has approved an initial one billion dollars for the MCA for 2004 while 2.5 billion might be approved for 2005. By 2006, the US government is expected to increase development assistance by 5.0 billion cedis under the MCA.

The Ghanaian officials told the Ghana News Agency that the overriding goal of the MCA was to reduce poverty by significantly increasing the economic growth of recipient countries.

"This requires an emphasis on investments that raise the productive potential of a country's citizens and firms and help integrate its economy into the global product and capital markets."

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