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MCA to save 230,000 poor

..Lift them out of Out of Extreme Poverty
The first tranche of 50 million dollars to Compact activities of Ghana has been disbursed, Ambassador John J Danilovich, Chief Executive Officer of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), on Wednesday told a Press Conference in Accra.

Ambassador Danilovich, who is in Ghana as part of the official delegation representing President Bush at Ghana's Jubilee independence celebrations said the 50 million dollars released on Wednesday was part of the 547 million grant signed with the government of Ghana under the Millennium Challenge Compact.

"In this first year of implementation, MCC will allocate about 50 million dollars to Compact activities of the 547 million grant. MCC funds are disbursed in tranches on a quarterly basis over the life of the five- year agreement based on performance benchmarks," he said.

He said since the signing, both the Millennium Development Authority (MiDA), the local organization managing the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) and MCC teams had worked diligently to finalize a number of supplemental agreements in order for the Compact to take effect, adding, "in subsequent years, disbursements will increase as projects activities ramp up".

"MCC is proud to stand with Ghanaians to implement this ambitious, result-oriented anti-poverty programme that seeks to improve the lives of the rural poor by raising farmer incomes through private sector-led, agribusiness development," Ambassador Danilovich said.

Sending a message of congratulations to President Kufuor and the people of Ghana for their achievement, he expressed the hope that this investment in Ghana would lift more than 230,000 poor Ghanaians out of extreme poverty and benefit over one million people in total.

"Through this program, Ghanaians are building the capacity within their country to access and participate more fully in the marketplace. "The Ghanaian Economy is growing and this program will help the rural poor to participate in and contribute further to Ghana's growth". Ambassador Pamela E. Bridgewater, US Ambassador, who accompanied Ambassador Danilovich said the gains that Ghana had made and would make through the successful implementation of the compact stood as role models for the rest of the African continent on how to obtain long-term prosperity and sustained economic growth through simple but universal values like democracy, transparency, rule of law and sound economic practices.

She said the selection of Ghana for the MCC was based upon international indicators that recognized strides that Ghana had made including accomplishments in good governance, transparency, and investing in people as a means towards a brighter future for all Ghanaians.

Dr Paa Kwesi Ndoum, Minister for Public Sector Reform, expressed appreciation to the staff of the MCC for work done to ensure early disbursement.

He expressed the hope that the ownership of the Compact by Ghanaians would be put into practical effect.

"We do not want any one to judge us by any standards, but what has been set by ourselves," he said adding that "we hope to get the benefit of the compact as early as possible".

Dr Ndoum said the effect of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) was expected to trickle down to every Ghanaian within the operating areas, since part of it would be used to upgrade rural banks, especially in their computerization programme to ensure early disbursement. The goal of the Ghana Compact programme is to reduce poverty through private sector-led agribusiness development.

Three core sectors have been selected for which the MCA would be used namely, Agriculture, transport and rural services development including education, water and sanitation and electricity. The MCA described as the largest single grant signed to date by the United States with any country, is to be disbursed within a five-year period.

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

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