Good Morning! Thank you all for joining us today to recognize and to honor the countries selected as eligible for the Millennium Challenge Account for 2006. I extend a warm welcome to the representatives of this year’s MCA eligible countries.
I would also like to welcome all other members of the diplomatic community, the business community, members of nongovernmental organizations, other agencies, and especially our colleagues from the State Department, who, in addition to providing us with this room today, have supported us both here in Washington and on the ground in our partner countries.
On November 8th, the MCC Board met to identify countries that have demonstrated their commitment to wise and just rule, to the health and education of their people, and to the promotion of sound economic policies that encourage entrepreneurship and stimulate growth, and to select them as eligible for MCA funding.
Twenty-three countries were chosen and I am proud to name them:
- Burkina Faso
- Cape Verde
- East Timor
- El Salvador
- The Gambia
- Sri Lanka
- Tanzania, and
To each country, our hearty and sincere congratulations.
Each eligible country is presented with the opportunity to develop and propose a program for MCA assistance which has the potential to be truly transformative — accelerating growth and lifting a great number of people out of poverty.
This opportunity is also a great challenge. Not every country will ultimately reach a Compact with MCC. The process requires significant commitment, leadership and action on the part of Eligible Countries to develop a program through broad and meaningful consultations with their citizens.
This process is not easy, but in the end, we have found that our partner countries believe it was well worth the effort.
As described by Prime Minister Jose Maria Neves of Cape Verde, "This is a program that does not give fish to people, but gives them the fishing rod and teaches them how to fish.â€ Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili called the assistance provided by MCC the most efficient, the most targeted, and the program that will produce most of the results of all of Georgia’s aid programs.
I also welcome the representatives of those countries who are eligible for this year’s Threshold Program. We encourage these countries to submit proposals to improve specific policies that are directly linked to creating and enabling growth and poverty reduction. We look forward to the working together with you to make that possible.
Millennium Challenge Corporation was designed to help countries bring about transformational change. Secretary Rice, Chair of MCC, has said that America alone, cannot deliver freedom and liberty. We can only help to create the conditions in which people can seize it for themselves. It is inherent in human nature to do so. The same is true of economic prosperity and the reduction of poverty. The countries we honor here today are themselves laying the groundwork for transformative change; they are building the institutions of democracy, rooting out corruption, promoting their citizens’ health and well-being, and creating an environment where businesses can grow.
And, only ten days ago, when I was still our Ambassador to Brazil, I had the honor of hosting President Bush and the First Lady and the President re-iterated his commitment to the MCC, to supporting our mission, and to helping us to expand our reach as we move forward into our third-year of operation.
Together, MCC and our eligible countries are now at a place where we can offer greater, more effective, more lasting hope to those in need. We look forward — with enthusiasm and optimism — to strengthening our partnerships, to providing support, and to creating together — in the words of President Bush—"an ever-widening circle of development.â€ Thank you, and again, congratulations.