Yesterday, I participated in my last Board of Directors meeting as Chief Executive Officer of MCC. The MCC Board, comprised of both government officials and private sector members, reached important decisions that are core to MCCs model and mission to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth.
I invite you to read about the countries the Board selected as now eligible to apply for an MCC compact (Colombia, Indonesia, and Zambia) or threshold program (Liberia). True to MCCs innovative approach to development assistance, it is now up to these newly-selected countries to consult with their citizens, prioritize their development goals, and work toward developing their compact or threshold proposal to generate the opportunity and growth essential for reducing poverty. The Board also made an important decision regarding our partnership with Nicaragua. These types of decisions are ones that MCCs Board takes very seriously and only after close consultation and intense deliberation. You can read more about the Boards decision regarding future collaboration with Nicaragua, and other concerns voiced during yesterdays meeting, on our website, www.mcc.gov.
It has been an enormous privilege to work with such an outstanding Board of Directors, whose sage advice and reasoned decisions have served MCC extraordinarily well in realizing our impressive $6.7 billion portfolio of compacts in 18 countries and threshold programs in 19 countries. These grants are training farmers, registering property rights, building roads, educating and immunizing children, and supporting business development. The transition to the next administration means that a new slate of public servants will replace Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, United States Trade Representative Susan Schwab, and USAID Administrator Henrietta Fore. The new appointees will join the four private sector members who will continue serving on the BoardLorne Craner, Bill Frist, Ken Hackett, and Alan Patricof. The ongoing leadership of these private sector Board members ensures continuity and provides valuable institutional memory that will be of tremendous benefit to MCC moving forward. The participation of these private sector Board members is one of the most unique elements of MCCs management, reaffirming that the fight against poverty involves not just the resources of government but also the ingenuity and innovation of civil society and private enterprise.
Years end is always a time of reflection, a time to ponder the milestones achieved and the goals still ahead. While we have made measurable strides in reducing poverty through MCCs partnerships, there is still more to do. The year ahead marks an exciting new chapter in MCCs history. Our partnerships and programs will continue. Implementation progress will continue to multiply as more projects come to fruition. Our way of awarding development assistance will continue to draw interest and attention as discussions intensify about the future architecture of foreign aid. Poll results released yesterday through the Modernizing Foreign Assistance Network confirm that 70 percent of engaged opinion elites favor reforms to improve the effectiveness of foreign aid by shifting aid dollars from less effective programs to programs that help hungry and poor people in developing countries provide for their families. More than eight in ten favor cutting federal programs that dont work and making those that do more efficient. They make the case for modernizing foreign assistance by stressing strategy, efficiency, and accountability. These are the principles we stand by here at MCC.
With change upon us, the permanence of MCCs principles equip us well to make further progress in the fight against global poverty in 2009 and beyond. My hope for you and yours this holiday season is the same one I have for those benefitting from MCC programs in partners countries worldwide: peace, health, prosperity. Happy holidays and best wishes for the New Year.