Accra, Jan.4, GNA - Ghana has qualified for the second tranche of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) to be disbursed by the United States Government this year.
President John Agyekum Kufuor, who announced this in Parliament on Tuesday, said "this is very significant because each year, a country must meet all the given criteria to qualify to share in the fund for that year".
He announced this in his State of the Nation Address to end his first tenure of office to Parliament in Accra.
The MCA is a new instrument that the United States Government uses to provide and deliver development assistance to developing countries in the form of grants.
Congress approved an initial one billion dollars for the MCA for 2004 and 2.5 billion for 2005.
By 2006, the US Government is expected to increase development assistance by 5.0 billion dollars under the MCA.
The MCA is for 16 countries, eight of which are in Africa. The eight eligible countries in Africa are Ghana, Benin, Cape Verde, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique and Senegal. It would help the beneficiary countries to reduce poverty; offer real opportunity to access additional funding at minimal cost and inject massive foreign currency into the financial system.
Country selection criteria were based on strict transparent processes employing multiple economic and social indicators - Ruling Justly; Investing in People and How Best a Government is Encouraging Economic Freedom.
President Kufuor said during the past four years, the nation's image had steadily improved before its development partners, the international financial authorities and investors. He said Standard and Poors, a renowned international credit rating company, had given Ghana a B+ credit rating and had put the nation's credit rating worthiness at par with Brazil and higher than Turkey and Indonesia, adding:
"This is no mean achievement".
President Kufuor said: "Perhaps, the most gratifying endorsement of Government's policies and programmes is the remittances from our own Ghanaian kith and kin living in abroad."
He said from initial remittances of about 400 million dollars in 2001, more than two billion dollars was recorded last year.