MCC CEO Sean Cairncross' Opening Statement to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

Thank you, Chairman Risch, Ranking Member Menendez, and members of the Committee. I would also like to recognize and thank Senator Isakson for your long term support for the agency, everyone is very appreciative, thank you. I am delighted to be here today and talk about my first 100-plus days as MCC’s CEO—as well as my priorities for MCC in the months ahead.

It’s a privilege to lead an agency with such a diverse, talented, and dedicated staff. I am grateful to President Trump for trusting in me to do so and I am thankful and grateful for this committees support.

I also want to thank your staff members. The bipartisan support that MCC enjoys is a real testament to this body. I want to thank them for their consistent engagement in MCC’s work.

Over the course of my first five and a half months at MCC, it’s clear that the agency’s strength is its core principles: transparency, data, and frankly most importantly—accountability both for ourselves and for our partner countries.

MCC’s work to reduce poverty through economic growth and consolidate democratic and free market reforms in the world’s best-governed, poorest countries is critical to U.S. foreign development. Our partner countries are actively working to set their nations on paths toward self-reliance.

There’s no better way to learn this than to go see it. Each trip I take to the field better equips me to share the agency’s work, and help guide the mission.

Since being confirmed, I’ve visited six partner countries—Malawi, Cote d’Ivoire, El Salvador, Georgia, Niger, and Morocco—and visited nearly 20 project sites. I have spent time with hundreds of beneficiaries, which is unquestionably the best part of each trip.

In Malawi, I met with President Mutharika to push for continued performance on MCC’s scorecard and sustainability of their power compact. I also met Grace Ghambi, an electrical engineering student earning her degree through an MCC sponsored scholarship. After finishing school, Grace wants to return to support MCC compact implementation by working at ESCOM—an electric company that’s helping with the private sector enterprise in Malawi.

Following this visit, I headed to Abidjan to attend the AGOA forum. I joined President Ouattara to mark the start of our $525 million compact with investments in education and transportation. I also signed a Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of Cote d’Ivoire and Bechtel corporation to develop a national master plan—a significant step in developing the sustainability of the Ivorian’s infrastructure investments for years to come.

In El Salvador, I met with President Bukele and had a great discussion on the importance of the private sector in creating a sustainable economy. We launched the bid for the country’s first large-scale public-private partnership. I also attended the opening of the first of 45 MCC-renovated schools.

Just last month, I traveled to Niger and Morocco. In Niger, I met with President Issoufou and launched an investment in agricultural sector in Konni.

I then joined Advisor to the President, Ivanka Trump, in Morocco where we saw firsthand our joint efforts to increase economic opportunity for women through MCC and the Women’s Global Development and Prosperity initiative.

While in Rabat, we signed an implementation letter with the Government to ensure that regulations for a new law advancing secure land rights for women are adopted by December 31 of this year. Advisor Trump and I also met with women in the Gharb region who now have more secure ownership and inheritance rights to the collective lands that they farm.

W-GDP is enabling the U.S. Government to target investments in women across the developing world in a coordinated way. MCC is grateful to Ivanka and the Administration for their support of our work in this regard.

Each of these missions are invaluable, and I look forward to continuing to visit the field.

MCC’s work reflects a model built on lessons of development experience. But, I also seek to find new ways build on that model and achieve greater impact.

We will focus on four areas:

one, empowering MCC staff;

two, encouraging smart risk;

three, crowding-in and enabling private development and dollars; and

four, holding ourselves and our partners accountable.

First, it is a priority for me to empower the incredible people who work at MCC. Through listening sessions, round-table discussions, and daily conversations, I walk around the building quite a bit. I have heard directly from staff about what the agency does well, and where we can improve. I continue to learn more about the important work our teams are doing each day.

Second, we will further establish a culture of creativity that encourages smart risk—including operationalizing MCC’s concurrent compact authority. Markets do not stop at borders, so neither should MCC’s investments. We must increase our risk tolerance if we want greater successes across the board. This is at the root of MCC’s design.

Third, crowding-in and enabling private investment throughout the lifecycle of our programs is vital. We know government-to-government dollars are not enough. We need private investment and job creation to develop healthy market economies—this is the primary driver of true sustainable growth.

And, finally: accountability. Without it, we cannot do our best work with our partner countries or for the American taxpayer. MCC will not throw good money after bad. We will adhere to our principles and follow our model.

Two recent examples emphasize this. MCC’s Board of Directors unanimously agreed to terminate a portion of the Ghana Power Compact when a key condition was not met. In Sri Lanka, MCC is continuing to monitor as the new government takes shape. As with all MCC partners, we expect Sri Lanka to remain committed to MCC’s eligibility criteria, including with respect for the rule of law, political rights, and civil liberties.

All to say, by investing in staff, innovating, and taking smart risks, crowding-in private dollars, and holding ourselves and our partner countries accountable, I’m confident that MCC will continue to deliver on our mission.

Thank you for today and I look forward to your questions.