The commitment to transparency and the fight against corruption intensified this week in Paraguay. I was honored to witness a milestone moment as the U.S. Government, through the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Government of Paraguay signed a $30.3 million Stage II Threshold Program. This second program aims to institutionalize key reforms in public administration and supports anticorruption activities in the judiciary, law enforcement, customs, and healthcare. It builds upon the successes of Paraguay’s first ”“umbral”“ or threshold program.
This latest agreement is one more symbol of the friendship between Paraguay and the United States as we work toward the shared goals of prosperity and opportunity. It also reflects the constructive and active engagement that the U.S. Government has with the peoples of the Americas. It involves effective cooperation across a number of U.S. agencies, as USAID will be managing the implementation of this threshold program, with help from the U.S. Department of Justice and the U.S. Department of Treasury Office.
President Fernando Lugo, who participated in the ceremony, signaled strong political will to stamp out corruption by reaffirming his government’s commitment to anticorruption measures. ”[We] will not do business out of corruption and will not dialogue with the mob. But instead will actively promote the destruction of this cancer. So a new country will be born free of illicit dealings because that’s what the people chose on April 20,” referring to Paraguay’s 2008 election day.
It was a standing room only event, with top officials from the Government of Paraguay, representatives from the diplomatic corps, and members of the press in attendance. The people of Paraguay realize that promoting transparency and accountability are keys to fighting corruption and fundamental to job creation and economic growth. Now, through its MCC Stage II Threshold Program, Paraguay has another effective tool to strengthen its institutions against the risk of corruption and to pursue results-oriented programs to reduce poverty and stimulate sustainable economic growth for the good of all Paraguayans.