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Millenium Challenge Account Selection – Sierra Leone

Millenium Challenge Account Selection – Sierra Leone

Washington, D.C., 12 December  2012 – Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the United States of America, H.E Bockari Stevens accompanied by Head of Chancery Mrs. Isha Sillah last Friday met with senior executives of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) at their 14th Street office in Washington. The meeting was held at the request of the Sierra Leone Embassy in Washington to re-brief the executives of  (MCC), on the strides that Sierra Leone has made  in meeting their requirements for a compact award culminating in the recent internationally acclaimed elections held in that country. The MCC is a competitive agency that was conceived by President George Bush whereby eligible countries were given two tier grants under a threshold programme and multi-million grants under a compact arrangement.  (Photo:  Sierra Leone’s Ambassador to the USA, HE Ambassador Bockari Stevens)

Ambassador Bockari K. Stevens was welcomed at the Millennium Challenge Corporation building by Jerry I. Dutkewych, Director, Diplomatic and External Relations. Present at the meeting were Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor, Office of the Chief Executive Officer, Sheila Herrling, Vice President, Department of Policy and Evaluation and Andria Hayes-Birchler, Development Policy Officer also of the Department of Policy and Evaluation.

In her opening remarks, Cassandra Q. Butts, Senior Advisor, Office of the Chief Executive Officer congratulated Ambassador Stevens on the success with the conduct on Sierra Leone’s just concluded Presidential and General elections. She said that it was a sign of good governance and democracy and the parameters of governance as set in these elections have been high and noticeable by the world. She further observed that she is proud of Sierra Leone especially for passing the MCC indicators. In response Ambassador Stevens thanked the MCC for giving Sierra Leone the opportunity to compete and that His Excellency the President Ernest Bai Koroma pays astute attention to the MCC and its ideals.

Ms. Butts briefed Ambassador Stevens about the selection process for the eligibility of the threshold/compact funding. She said the MCC indicators focused more on economic freedom and third party institutions for  providing data on the performance indicators. She said that Sierra Leone’s selection case will be decided by the Board but hastened to say that there are good signs of progress made by the Government in order to be considered for selection. In her intervention, Sheila Herrling, Vice President, Department of Policy and Evaluation remarked that Sierra Leone has made tremendous efforts in realizing the set  indicators  making it  a contender for the selection process. 

The board of directors under the chairman of Secretary of State Hilary Clinton will be meeting on Wednesday 19th December 2012 and it is anticipated Sierra Leone’s fate with the MCC will be decided. The main essence for selection is to give opportunity to countries to reduce poverty on the principle that aid is most effective when it reinforces good governance, economic freedom and investments in people that promote economic growth and elimination of extreme poverty. It was also noted during the meeting that the MCC budget is dwindling. This notwithstanding the selection process will still go on.

On the elections, Ambassador Stevens noted the successful elections amidst a high number of international observers.  He said this is the first time in Sierra Leone that four elections are held simultaneously on a single day. He said that the MCC selection if favorable to Sierra Leone will ensure the success of the new Agenda for Prosperity.

On a separate note Cassandra Q. Butt informed Ambassador Stevens about the security concerns in Mali and Niger that made the MCC to suspend most of its programs there. She asked the Ambassador what was responsible for the impressive outcome of the peaceful elections in Sierra Leone.

Ambassador Stevens replied that it is through the wisdom of His Excellency Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma in the unique way he manages the affairs as head of state, head of a political party that won the elections decisively, and custodian of state security. The Ambassador noted that  through tact, tolerance and firmness President Koroma  was able to lead by example, by diffusing tension before , during and after the elections.

Finally  Ambassador Stevens asked a bold question on what the outcome of the Board decision would be, to which the executives replied that Sierra Leone stands a chance to be selected because of the indicators/Marks scored which are much higher this year but they cannot preempt the Board’s decision and that any decision made by the Board stands.

Ambassador Stevens thanked the MCC team for the good sentiments expressed about the upward mobility of the country and expressed hope of hearing good news on the 19th of December. Before the meeting ended, Ambassador Stevens handed the executives copies of the new Agenda for Prosperity launched by President Koroma.

Information Division, Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in the USA

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