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10.06.2004 General News

Millennium account is 960 million dollars - Luton

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Accra, June 10, GNA - Mr Drew Luton, Director of the Millennium Challenge Corporation; administrators of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), on Thursday said even though the US Congress had made available one billion dollars for the MCA, the exact amount available to the 16 eligible countries was 960 million dollars.

Briefing Journalists in Accra after visiting five eligible countries, namely Ghana, Senegal, Cape Verde and Benin, Mr Luton said a part of the 40 million dollars being the balance, would be used to "nurse" a number of countries that barely made it into the eligibility group.

The rest would be taken up by administrative costs. The eight eligible countries in Africa are Ghana, Benin, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Senegal.

Mr Luton was in the country at the head of a three-man delegation to meet the Ghanaian Technical Group preparing Ghana's Composite Agreement, which would state in clear terms what Ghana wanted to do and how much was involved.

Mr Luton said the Account would not be shared equally among the 16 countries, "but subsequently we would be looking at the size and population of eligible countries".

He congratulated the Ghanaian Technical Group saying, even though a document was not ready, "we are confident that discussions that went on and many more expected to take place with civil society, the media and government itself, would lead to the production of a sound and acceptable document."

The Composite Agreement is expected to be ready before September or latest October, this year.

He noted that a number of discussions would take place among governments and between governments and the MCC on the Composite Agreement, "but the final decision on approval would rest with the MCC itself."

Mr Luton urged the countries to develop in the Agreement programmes those things that would lead to growth and reduction of poverty.

"The Agreements that would be produced should be focused and very well defined."

Ghana intends to derive her Composite Agreement from the Ghana Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper.

Mr Luton said while the MCC or the US administration would not be looking at taking out countries, "they must work to satisfy the eligibility criteria at all times.

"It is only when something dramatic happens that could stall the administration of the funds that we might withdraw." 10 June 04

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