Tuesday, February 27, 2024

United States Aid Agency, Philippines Start Talks On Strengthening Governance

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United States Aid Agency, Philippines Start Talks On Strengthening Governance

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The United States’ foreign assistance agency Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) has started talks with Philippine officials for the threshold program.

MCC Chief Executive Officer Alice Albright said she met with Department of Finance (DOF) Secretary Ralph Recto last Feb. 1, more than a month after the MCC selected the Philippines as an eligible country for the threshold program.

“So we spent the time with Secretary Recto and his colleagues really talking through the process and what the next steps are and how we get started. And in part, we’ll start working with the government on some diagnostic work to figure out what some of the key challenges might be,” Albright told reporters during a press briefing at Fairmont Hotel in Makati City on Friday.

She said the initial meeting with the DOF would help both parties identify which programs in the Philippines will receive grants from MCC.

The MCC is a bilateral United States foreign aid agency established by the U.S. Congress in 2004. It provides three types of grants: compacts, threshold programs, and concurrent impacts for regional investment.

For compacts, eligible countries receive financial aid from MCC for programs targeted at poverty reduction and stimulating economic growth.

Threshold programs are smaller-scale grants focused on improving policies.

Concurrent compacts, on the other hand, promote cross-border economic integration, trade, and collaboration.

“The first step will be for the government to appoint what we call a national coordinator, which is the main counterparty that we will work with. But we can work as quickly as the government is able to work going forward, and we expect we’ve had some very good initial conversations, and we expect things to unfold very very quickly,” Albright said.

MCC grants financial aid to developing countries that are committed to good governance, economic freedom, and investing in their people.

The Philippines was a threshold recipient from 2006 to 2009 with MCC grants amounting to USD20.7 million.

The Philippines threshold program targeted policy areas measured by two MCC eligibility indicators, Control of Corruption and Fiscal Policy.

Meanwhile, the country received its first compact grant of USD434 million which concluded in 2016.

Albright said the Philippines should remain committed to strengthening its governance to continue benefitting from the threshold program or elevate its status to a compact partner. (PNA)