The Consultative Process: From Diaspora Communities, To Partner Countries, To Congress

MCC headquarters, for those of you who havent visited us yet, is a relatively small space designed to house the 300 people who work in our organization.  Its size notwithstanding, we maintain an open-door policy and welcome as many individuals and groups as possible to learn about MCC, our ongoing projects in partner countries, and to talk about how we can learn together from this process and tackle the problem of systemic poverty worldwide.  Just this week, over 260 people have been in our offices, as we hosted public outreach sessions:  one celebrating our most recent $698 million compact with Tanzania signed by President Bush and President Kikwete, and one focusing on ongoing implementation progress with our $461 million compact with El Salvador. 

I view these meetings as a continuation of the all-important and all-inclusive consultative process something we expect from our countries as a hallmark of our model, and something MCC does here in the U.S. with our stakeholders. This process doesn’t end when compacts are signed or in implementation, and our public discussions are indicative of this commitment.

We explored investment opportunities in Tanzania this week, so that private- sector investments can complement MCC efforts and encourage deeper long-term growth.  Small- and medium-sized companies, including those owned and operated by minorities and women, came to ask questions about our work and how they can get involved.  Together with the government of El Salvador and Vice Minister Margarita Escobar, we explored similar areas of opportunity in the northern region of El Salvador.  The message of the meeting was clear:  There are exciting things happening in this region of El Salvador because of MCC’s work through FOMILENIO (the local entity responsible for implementing MCCs $461 million grant) and investors are the ones who can help the people increase the pace in their battle against poverty.  We heard about Salvadorans who are building new tourism projects, investing millions of private dollars that are leveraged by MCCs public investment in roads, education, and training.  We are very excited to see the Salvadoran diaspora taking advantage of these opportunities by investing in their home country and creating hundreds of jobs, and more important, generating hope for the poor people living in El Salvadors Northern Zone.

The consultative process is more than just meetings with investors and stakeholders from our partner countries.  This week I testified before the House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations in what could also be considered part of this open, transparent dialogue on MCC.  The hearing was as it should be rigorous and probing, and allowed MCC to talk to one of its most important stakeholders, the US Congress, about our progress to date and our plans for the future.  I am keenly aware that the funds we at MCC administer are taxpayer investments.  When you are before a group of elected officials, as I was on Tuesday, you must demonstrate how your organization is fulfilling its mission.  I was proud to be able to tell Congress that MCC is doing what it was designed to do: helping countries reduce poverty and sustain growth, based on a sound foundation of good government policies.  I was pleased to note the positive and encouraging reaction of certain committee members and told the group as a whole that we welcome further dialogue with them as we do with all our stakeholders on MCC’s work. That’s what makes this a real consultative process and guides us in fulfilling our mission in even better ways.