RP, US to start talks on $400-million Millennium Challenge Corp grant
- Pia Lee-Brago () - July 8, 2010 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines - The top US diplomat in the country said the Philippines and Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) will soon start formal talks for a $400-million grant for several projects.

The MCC is a US government agency created to reduce poverty through sustainable economic growth, providing well-performing countries with large-scale growth.

At the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) diplomatic night held at the Hotel Intercon on Tuesday, US Ambassador Harry K. Thomas Jr. welcomed the expression of interest by President Aquino and Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima in having an MCC agreement.

“We’re looking at $400 million not for good behavior but $400 million to build roads, to help with infrastructure, building things like that and I’m sure what the Filipino people want is no corruption so they reach Juan dela Cruz,” Thomas said. “So that is extremely important to us and the new President who in every speech I heard talked about the need to rid corruption.”

Thomas said a team from the US government already held exploratory talks with the Philippine transition team and will soon begin formal negotiations with the Aquino administration.

“We’re very pleased that President Aquino and Finance Secretary Purisima have indicated that they are interested in having an MCC agreement. They want to end corruption and we’re going to negotiate this and explain what it is to them now that they are formally in office,” he added.

The diplomat also acknowledged that the previous administration did a lot of the ground work for the multimillion-dollar grant from the MCC.

“Again we’re guests here and we can’t give the current administration a textbook and say accept this. We have to sit down with them and see what they would like and what they think is the best for the Filipino people. So that’s why we have to talk to them and again we could not formally do that until after they were sworn in,” he said.

The MCC, Thomas said, would be over $400 million in several projects but “we have to see what the new government would like and if they will agree there’ll be over $400 million.”

The Philippines participated last January in the first Corporation MCC compact development roundtable for ambassadors of eligible countries.

Manila expressed confidence that its Compact Agreement with MCC will further strengthen the country’s governance institutions.

During the meeting, Philippine Amb. to Washington Willy Gaa expressed confidence that the Philippines’ compact agreement with MCC will further strengthen the country’s governance institutions that will be beneficial in the long-term.

MCC CEO Yohannes reiterated the support of both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State and MCC chairperson Hillary Clinton to the MCC process, a key element in US foreign assistance focused on good policies, country ownership, and results.

In December, the Philippines had assured the MCC that the government will continue to work hard and improve on the various aspects of the MCC program.

AMBASSADOR HARRY K AT THE MANILA OVERSEAS PRESS CLUB COMPACT AGREEMENT HILLARY CLINTON HOTEL INTERCON IN DECEMBER MCC PHILIPPINE AMB PHILIPPINES AND MILLENNIUM CHALLENGE CORP PRESIDENT AQUINO AND FINANCE SECRETARY CESAR PURISIMA
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