Remonde: Govt now preparing anti-poverty project proposals

Published by rudy Date posted on April 5, 2009

The government is now preparing the anti-poverty proposal to be submitted to the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) after the Philippines became eligible to apply for a large-scale grants as a “Compact” level beneficiary of the US-government corporation.

Press Secretary Cerge Remonde said a council is now working on the proposal to get the US grant to boost the government’s anti-poverty campaign.

Remonde announced last month that the Philippines were selected as eligible to apply for MCC’s Compact-level aid.

The MCC board decision promoting the Philippines from “Threshold” level to “Compact” is MCC’s conferment of the “seal of good housekeeping” on the Arroyo administration, Remonde said.

The MCC said in March that its board of directors “announced at the conclusion of its March board meeting that the Philippines has been selected as eligible to apply for an MCC Compact.”

“The MCC board determines eligibility for this large-scale grant funding based on independent indicators that measure good governance, the country’s investments in its people and policies that encourage economic freedom,” said the MCC.

“The MCC Board,” in a statement issued last March said, “today noted the Philippines’ consistent passing performance on eligibility criteria and its effective implementation of the MCC-funded Threshold Program focused on helping curb corruption through improved tax and customs administration and strengthening of their Ombudsman office.”

An earlier $20-million MCC grant was used by the Arroyo administration to hire more government prosecutors, Remonde said.

 “For a country to be selected as eligible for an MCC assistance program, it must demonstrate a commitment to policies that promote political and economic freedom, investments in education and health, the sustainable use of natural resources, control of corruption, and respect for civil liberties and the rule of law, as measured by 17 different policy indicators,” the MCC stressed.

In the same statement, MCC Chief Executive Officer Ambassador John Danilovich expressed his “congratulations to the government of the Philippines for its demonstrated commitment to tackling difficult challenges and improving the lives of its people.”

Eligibility is an essential first step towards a poverty reduction program grant from the MCC.

Countries selected as eligible for a large-scale grant, or “Compact” have the opportunity to submit a proposal for a five-year program to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth, according to the MCC.

“Once selected as eligible, countries begin a consultation process that include citizens, non-govern­mental organizations and representatives of the private sector and government to identify the barriers to poverty reduction and economic growth.

“MCC teams then work in partnership to engage with countries on their compact proposals to ensure that projects meet economic growth and poverty reduction targets. The resulting compact also sets forth how the country plans to manage and implement its MCA [Millennium Challenge Account] program, including how it will ensure financial accountability, transparency, fair and open procurement, and measurable results,” the MCC said.

Established in January 2004 and designed to work with developing countries, the MCC says its existence is “based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces sound political, economic and social policies that promote poverty reduction through economic growth.”

“Before a country can become eligible to receive assistance, MCC looks at their performance on independent and transparent policy indicators.

MCC selects eligible countries for Compact Assistance.

“Countries that have demonstrated significant improvement in policy indicators but do not yet qualify for a Compact grant may be eligible for Threshold Program assistance,” said the MCC, which explained that “Threshold Programs are smaller grants designed to help improve performance on specific indicators.”

Led by a chief executive officer and overseen by a board of directors, MCC is responsible for the stewardship of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), which receives funds appropriated by the US Congress every year. –Angelo Samonte, Reporter, Manila Times

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