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Cut graft, get more US aid, envoy tells Bangladesh

Publication Date : 12-10-2012


The US envoy to Bangladesh yesterday said that corruption remained a major barrier for Bangladesh to getting funds from the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), a US government programme that provides grants to poor countries to fight poverty.

Bangladesh's scorecard out of all measurement criteria is not up to the mark to qualify for assistance from the MCA, said Ambassador Dan Mozena.

There are certain areas where Bangladesh's scorecard is green, and for some cases the scorecard is red, he said. "So, we started discussions on how to turn red to green and how to deal with more difficult issues like corruption."

"I singled out corruption because it is the one that must be green," he said.

He spoke at a press meet at the Economic Relations Division in the capital to announce a USAID development assistance of $200 million for Bangladesh in 2012.

Mozena said he would love to see an MCA programme in Bangladesh apart from USAID assistance.

Because, MCA is one of the best foreign assistance schemes of the US under which America works directly with recipient countries to help them develop their agenda for development, he said.

Managed by Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), countries that get aid from MCA identify their own priorities and solutions. The MCC allows country-led implementation.

A country needs to show good performance in 17 certain indicators, including corruption, health, education, rule of law and the government's effectiveness, to become eligible for finance from the MCC that was created in 2004 by the US congress.

In 2012, Bangladesh lags behind in nine out of 17 measurement indicators to qualify for MCC fund, according to the MCC website.

The US envoy said Bangladesh is not poor in energy. "It has resources. It has significant reserve of gas. Those reserves are exploited and developed very efficiently. American companies are helping to do that."

He said a US team would come soon to explore the possibility of shale gas in Bangladesh. Shale gas is a natural gas that is trapped in shale formations.

Mozena also said Bangladesh has also enormous reserves of coal of the highest quality which can fulfil the country's energy needs for the next 50 years. He said Bangladesh perhaps can export coal and power.

He said the USA could help Bangladesh for the development of coal. "We have specialised equipment for that kind of coal production. Of course, that does need some decisions. I see great potential for partnership in the energy sector."

He said Bangladesh is the largest recipient of US's development programme except Afghanistan and Pakistan.

"Our partnership in Bangladesh is growing," he said, citing a 10 per cent increase in US support this year compared to last year.

Of the USAID's assistance for 2012, $6 million will go for capacity building to promote democracy and good governance, $74 million for population control, improved maternal and child healthcare, water and sanitation.

Around $52 million will be used to raise agricultural production and build links to markets and $19 million to promote energy efficiency, increase resilience of communities against the negative impacts of climate change.

Some $45 million will go for basic humanitarian assistance, including improving availability of food and raising purchasing power of the poor, according to a statement of the USAID.


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