Malawi qualifies for Millennium Challenge Account
BY DICKSON KASHOTI
07:55:49 - 14 December 2007
Malawi is now eligible for a large-scale grant from the Millennium Challenge Account, bringing hope for a significant new flow of funding that could have a major impact on Malawi’s efforts to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth.
However, United States of America ambassador to Malawi, Alan Eastham could not say how much Malawi expected to receive at a press conference convened to announce the Millennium Challenge Corporation decision.
He said the amount would depend on negotiations between the MCC board and the government of Malawi.
But information made available to The Daily Times indicate that some countries have received amounts ranging from US$285 to US$ million 700 for a five-year period.
Eastham said Malawi’s eligibility for the MCC assistance means the country may now begin the process of applying for a large-scale grant, popularly known as compact, under this foreign aid program funded by the US government aimed at reducing poverty through economic growth.
“Malawi’s selection is in recognition of the substantial steps taken by the government of Malawi towards addressing corruption and putting in place other sound policies to promote economic development,” Eastham said.
Malawi has scored 54 percent in its control of corruption, 80 percent in rule of law, 68 percent for voice and accountability, 59 percent in political rights and 65 percent in civil liberties, according to rates from the Freedom House and World Bank Institute.
But Eastham said although the announcement of the eligibility is an essential step toward obtaining an MCC compact facility for Malawi, it does not guarantee funding, saying the MCC will ask the government of Malawi to begin a broad based consultative process to develop a proposal for a five-year program.
“There is no pre-established dollar figure for Malawi’s compact at this stage. The level of assistance the MCC could eventually provide will be based on the strength of Malawi’s proposal, as well as the availability of funding. Negotiating compact agreement is a complex and often lengthy process,” said the ambassador.
Eastham then applauded Malawi for the feat, saying this is the only country in the world that has qualified for the eligibility of MCC funding.
The MCC board has also selected Mauritania to participate in MCC’s Threshold Programme, a programme designed to assist countries that do not yet qualify for the compact grants but that are close to qualifying and have demonstrated a commitment to enact reforms necessary to improve policy performance that may eventually help them qualify for the compact assistance.
The board also welcomed MCC’s intention to invite Albania, Paraguay and Zambia to submit a stage 11 threshold proposal to build upon their current threshold programmes that expire in 2008.
The following countries are participating in the MCC programme and were selected as eligible for 2008 compact funding: Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, El Savador, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Jordan, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Namibia, Nicaragua, Senegal, Tanzania, Timor-Leste, Ukraine and Vanuatu.