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Serving Sri Lanka

This web log is a news and views blog. The primary aim is to provide an avenue for the expression and collection of ideas on sustainable, fair, and just, grassroot level development. Some of the topics that the blog will specifically address are: poverty reduction, rural development, educational issues, social empowerment, post-Tsunami relief and reconstruction, livelihood development, environmental conservation and bio-diversity. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Foreign aid will not develop a country

Island: Business: Foreign aid will not develop a country - Ralph V. Applegarth, By Steve A. Morrell

‘Foreign aid will not develop a Country’, said Chief Executive Officer, (CEO) Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) USA, Paul V. Applegarth addressing the press last week. . He was in the Island to seek hands on assessment of projected aid packages because Sri Lanka had qualified under the Millennium Challenge Account, Eligible Countries, as recipient for aid ex the USA. He said that a country that would take responsibility for its own development would make tangible progress and widen its capacity for greater absorption. Conversely one that would be constantly dependent on third sources would not sustain advancement and in consequence be prone to failure.

Sixteen countries selected included Sri Lanka, and others in diverse regions of the globe. Qualifiers for 2005 also included Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, and Vanuatu.

Competing with approximately 82 countries through pre- determined criteria these countries emerged leaders in ranking sheets which projected poverty reduction as a leading yardstick to measure maturity for receipt of aid packages. Although checks and balances would be in place to ensure allocated funds would be used for purposes within given parameters , the US had the expertise to allocate funds to areas where such funds were needed, and more importantly, used as programmed.

Programming would ensure that user countries draw up their own requirements underscoring actual areas of importance rather than have donors dictate their own wishes subject to their source agendas. Such aid he said would not adequately address indigenous needs.

Of priority standing was also reduction of corruption and action to address rule of law. good governance and press freedom were linked to rank high in priority listings. He said the press should have the freedom to write facts irrespective of strong influences that might intrude to distort news.

Although the US Government had not determined quantum of the aid package Applegarth said it was now premature to make any decisive declarations because discussions were ongoing.

He said he had discussions with President Kumaratunga, the Prime Minister, and Cabinet Ministers. He also met farmer groups, and a leading business house, Mas Holdings, for diverse cross section of input.

Apart from these groups it would be necessary to also talk to Business people, and Non Government Organisations, (NGOO) he said.

Paul V. Applegarth was appointed first CEO of Millennium Challenge Corpporation (MCC) May 6 2004 and throughout his career concentrated on development. He is a graduate of Yale, and Havard Law school, and earned an MBA from Havard Business School. He was also a Baker Scholar. Applegarth’s position as CEO is of equal status as Deputy Secretary in the Federal Government.

The MCC administers the Millennium Challenge Account, an initiative designed to reduce poverty by promoting sustainable growth in countries that rule justly, invest in their people,and promote economic freedom.

The parameters used for assessment included political rights,civil liberties,control of corruption, Government effectiveness, rule of law, voice and accountability.

Using descending numerical criteria with benchmark levels of zero, under the broadbased heading of ‘Ruling Justly’ the Sri Lankan performance levels were assessed at ratings above benchmark levels; although some ratings indicated evenness on the benchmark indicators. In short, he said that Sri Lanka had done well to earn a place for selection within the 16 qualifier countries. It was quite commendable that these levels were reached, because competition was intense.

Under the heading ‘Investing in People’ areas of assessment included immunisation rates,health expenditure, primary education, and girls primary education. Although these indicators did not provide possitive influences, overall performances were well within the ‘Above average rating’, he said.

These were the rating parameters used which also included economic freedom.

The MCC seeks to support broad - based sustainable economic growth and link greater contributions from developed nations to greater responsibility from developing nations in a "new compact for global development" called by President George W. Bush, a US press release said.

Although Paul V. Apllegarth said the US had not determined quantum of aid packages identified for disbursement, evaluation was ongoing with most indicators pointed to positive input solutions. All in all, if after aid areas were identified, and project formulation would take optimum 5 months, it would be quite acceptable.

At upper limits for implementation and completion, expectations were that such achievements could reach completion within 5 years. However constant monitoring would be maintained to prevent as far as possible any shortfall in performance.

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