Speech

July 6, 2010

As Prepared by Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor

Monroiva, Liberia

Remarks by MCC Senior Advisor Cassandra Butts at the Signing of LIberia’s MCC Threshold Program

Madam President,
Distinguished Ministers,
Ambassadors,
Members of the United States Congress here today,
USAID Mission Director,

It is my distinct honor to join you today to celebrate the threshold program between the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation and the Republic of Liberia.  Daniel Yohannes, MCC’s Chief Executive Officer, regrets that his schedule prevented him from being here and asked that I convey his personal best wishes to the government and people of Liberia at the start of this important endeavor.

Madam President: You remain a beacon of optimism for Liberians and a model of progress for all of Africa, and we applaud your steadfast vision for reform, reconciliation, and reconstruction.  We also welcome your strong support for the MCC-Liberia threshold program we sign today, which is indispensable and instrumental to the success of the work ahead. 

Liberia and the United States share both history and hope for the future.  Our bond dates back to the 1820s, when free African-Americans and freed slaves from the United States settled in Liberia.  Today, we remain partners on a number of fronts, from promoting democracy and good governance, to deepening security, to achieving sustainable development.  The MCC threshold program we sign today is further proof of the friendship and cooperation between the United States and Liberia.

As one of the U.S. Government’s most innovative models for the delivery of development assistance, the Millennium Challenge Corporation invests in poor, but well-governed, countries.  Our partners share our commitment to good policies, to fighting corruption, to investing in their people, and to broadening economic freedoms.  MCC was founded on the principle that investments work best when partner countries themselves are invested in the solutions and in delivering tangible results that matter to their citizens.

In Liberia, MCC finds such a partner for progress. 

Together—with the United States Agency for International Development as the lead implementer—we will work on a three-year threshold program that invests in three key areas:

  • land rights and access,
  • girls’ primary education, and
  • trade policy.

These areas represent key constraints to economic growth, identified by Liberians themselves as part of their own national development strategy.  The threshold program embodies partnership at its best—a partnership among:

  • the people of Liberia, who recognize what they need for Liberia’s development,
  • USAID, which brings valuable field presence and expertise, and
  • MCC, with our focus on delivering results through rigorous, transparent monitoring and evaluation.  It is also important to highlight that the strong support MCC receives from the United States Congress—from Congressman Donald Payne and the other distinguished members of the U.S. congressional delegation here to witness this event—enables us to partner with countries like Liberia.

The first component of Liberia’s MCC threshold program will seek reforms in land rights and access and land policy to promote equitable access to land and increased land security.  This is important work and a key to economic growth and social justice.

The second component will work to increase girls’ primary education enrollment and retention by creating a scholarship program for girls, providing grants to communities to improve the school environment, and supporting other social interventions such as mentoring programs and awareness campaigns.  All of us here recognize, without question, that educating girls is crucial to a country’s long-term economic development. 

I know the education of girls is a particular priority for you, Madam President.  I share this priority as the Millennium Challenge Corporation’s point person for the integration of gender equality in the programs we fund.  The success of every MCC program depends on the success of women and men to be equal champions of their own development.

And, the third component of the threshold program supports efforts to improve trade policy and practices, specifically in harmonizing tariffs, engaging regional and global bodies, and strengthening the regulatory environment.  This will fuel more commerce, create more jobs, and attract more private sector investment, the engine of long-term growth. 

The Millennium Challenge Corporation welcomes working alongside Liberia and USAID to achieve the full potential of this 15 million dollar, three-year threshold program.  The focus now must be on the program’s timely and successful implementation.  The focus must be on delivering results to create and sustain a healthy climate for long-term growth and prosperity for the people of Liberia.  This is what brings us here today, and this is what we expect to achieve moving forward.  Thank you very much.