I travelled to Tegucigalpa two weeks ago for an important milestone in MCC’s relationship with Honduras: the signing of a $15.6 million Threshold Program Agreement. I joined President Porfirio Lobo and Vice President María Antonieta Guillén at the signing ceremony, and both showed excitement and commitment toward the program’s potential to help improve governance and reduce opportunities for corruption.
This new Threshold Program follows MCC’s successful five-year compact, which increased the agricultural productivity of farmers and improved key road infrastructure. The success of the compact was due in large part to the partnership between MCC and the Government of Honduras’ compact implementation unit that set a new benchmark for efficient, effective and transparent project management in Honduras. Now, through the Threshold Program, MCC and the Government of Honduras will take on a new challenge: improving financial management, procurement and cost-effective service delivery throughout the government.
This program in Honduras is the first “next generation” Threshold Program. When MCC redesigned its Threshold Program, we made a clear decision to focus on high-impact policy and institutional reforms. These can be among the most difficult to implement. Unlike building roads or water pumps, policy reforms require governments to look inward and admit weaknesses.
This can be unpopular and even risky for politicians—but having the Honduran government and citizens in full support of the Threshold Program provides a necessary first step for a successful program and helped demonstrate their broader commitment to improving governance and growing the country’s economy.
If this level of commitment can be sustained, when the program ends, we will see:
- The Government of Honduras paying all obligations promptly, increasing bidder interest and competition.
- Government ministries delivering quality services through the most efficient use of staff and resources.
- More public-private partnerships efficiently delivering public services, and Hondurans viewing these partnerships as transparent and efficient.
- A civil society with access to information and constructively using that information to deepen a culture of transparency and government effectiveness.
Now the hard work begins. I look forward to being a part of this exciting and ambitious program. While MCC will provide financial support and technical assistance, the key to success will be the bold leadership of current and future governments to make the tough choices and the necessary policy improvements. And throughout this process, we will need civil society and the private sector to monitor and demand results.