Washington, DC The Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) today selected three new countries to participate in the Threshold program for 2007. The new countries, Niger, Peru, and Rwanda, join 17 countries chosen during previous MCC Threshold program selection rounds in 2004-2006.
MCCs Threshold Program is designed to assist countries on the threshold of Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) eligibility for Compact assistance. Threshold countries must demonstrate a commitment to reforms that will address the specific policy weaknesses identified by the MCA eligibility criteria.
MCC measures a governments commitment to sound development policies using 16 independently measured and transparent benchmarks known as indicators, which have a demonstrated link to poverty reduction and economic growth. These indicators measure commitment to policies that promote, among other things, political and economic freedom, investments in education and health care, control of corruption, respect for civil liberties, and the rule of law. MCC is using two supplemental indicators this year to evaluate countries commitment to sustainable natural resource management.
MCC funding itself is a powerful incentive that motivates countries to enact political, economic, and social reforms essential to poverty reduction and sustainable economic growth. Our Threshold countries are responding to this incentive effect and are demonstrating a clear commitment to take on the difficult work of policy reform to qualify for funding, and we support them in their endeavors, said Ambassador John Danilovich, MCCs Chief Executive Officer.
MCCs Board selected Niger as a Threshold country because of its commitment to reform. According to Ken Hackett, an MCC Board Member and President of Catholic Relief Services, MCC is ready to support ongoing efforts to tackle corruption, increase girls access to primary education, and promote economic freedom. Investments in girls education can have a significant impact on Nigers development and can result in decreases in child and maternal mortality, increases in labor productivity, higher wages, increases in agricultural yields and an acceleration of economic growth.Research shows that providing girls one extra year of education beyond the average may boost eventual wages by 10-20 percent. Girls education leads to increased income and improved family health, and creates positive opportunities for individuals and nations, said Hackett.
Peru has undertaken sweeping economic reforms over the last decade. However, the country continues to fall short on indicators measuring corruption, rule of law, government effectiveness, and investments in health care and education, which can be the focus of a Threshold program. Rwanda has also demonstrated an impressive track record on economic reform, and a Threshold program would offer it an opportunity to pursue greater democratic reform.
Since its establishment in 2004, MCC has approved nearly $286 million under the Threshold program for 11 countries: Albania; Burkina Faso; Indonesia; Jordan; Malawi; Moldova; Paraguay; Philippines; Tanzania; Ukraine; and Zambia. Previously selected countries that have not yet completed Threshold agreements with MCC include: Guyana; Kenya; Kyrgyz Republic; So Tom and Principe and Uganda.
To date, MCC has also approved Compacts totaling nearly $3 billion with 11 countries: Armenia; Benin; Cape Verde; El Salvador; Georgia; Ghana; Honduras; Madagascar; Mali; Nicaragua; and Vanuatu. MCC is also actively engaging with other eligible countries to assist them in Compact development.
Scoresheets for all candidate countries are available on the MCC website at www.mcc.gov/selection/scorecards/2007/index.php.
Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), a U.S. Government corporation designed to work with some of the poorest countries in the world, is based on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom, and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of extreme poverty.