ECONOMYNEXT – Washington-based Millennium Challenge Corporation said it has ended a 480 million dollar grant to Sri Lanka, which was not taken up by the island’s current administration.
The MCC board said it had “discontinued the proposed compact with Sri Lanka.”
“On December 15, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) board decided to discontinue the proposed Rs. 89 billion MCC development assistance grant to Sri Lanka due to lack of partner country engagement,” the US embassy in Colombo said.
“The Rs. 89 billion approved for Sri Lanka will be made available to other eligible partner countries in need of grant funding to pursue their economic development priorities, reduce poverty, and grow their economies.
“Country ownership, transparency, and accountability for grant results are fundamental to MCC’s development model.
“These grants have lifted millions of people from poverty by catalyzing local and domestic investment.
“The United States remains a friend and partner to Sri Lanka and will continue to assist Sri Lanka in responding to COVID and building its economy.”
MCC had given grants to 30 countries worldwide on 38 totaling nearly 13.5 billion dollars the embassy said.
The MCC grant approved for Sri Lanka was to upgrade urban transport, land registration and also builds several key rural road links to highways became embroiled in multiple conspiracy theories in the run up to the 2019 elections.
The then opposition claimed that it would undermine the sovereignty of the country, force the country into defence deals with the US, get the country involved in a ‘economic corridor’ to transport US troops.
The modernization of the land registry was claimed to be a way to sell land to foreigners.
The then administration and the MCC denied the allegations and offered to amend the agreement if to address any perceived concerns.
Approved grants have to be ratified in the parliament of the country before money is released.
MCC says grants are made to countries that “meet rigorous standards for good governance, from fighting corruption to respecting democratic rights, as evaluated by MCC’s scorecard.”
The MCC board said it had approved grants to Sierra Leone, Kribati and Solomon Islands. (Colombo/Dec17/2020 – Updated with US embassy comments)