MCA; Ghana Qualifies For 2nd Fund…But Money Not Yet Received!
Ghana is eligible to access the second compact of the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA), having made a judicious use of the first compact of $547 million which was signed in August 2006 in the United States. The first fund entered into force in February 2007 to formally initiate a five-year timeline for projects implementation which ends in February 2012. It was signed on behalf of the Ghana Government by Dr. Paa Kwesi Nduom, former Minister of Public Sector Reforms, while Ambassador John Danilovich, former Millennium Challenge Corporation Chief Executive Officer, signed for the United States of America. In an exclusive interview at the US Embassy in Accra, Ms. Katerine S. Ntep, Resident Country Director of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), assisted by Mr. Benjamin A. East, the Information Officer, informed this reporter that Ghana’s eligibility is granted on the basis of her performance on the MCC score card and also on the way in which the Ghana Government had implemented the first compact. She said her outfit would start the process to develop the second grant with the government. “To have the second programme, we have to go through a process. The first process is to look at what other constraints to economic development in Ghana are; so that will be a process that will take place between the Ghana Government and MCC. The second step will be to determine what sectors the investments will be made in,” the Country Director articulated, adding that thereafter, the Government will have to officially apply for the second fund. However, she could not disclose the quantum of money that would be given, saying the second one would depend on what sectors investments would be done in, and what the investments needs are, as they (investments) are specific. “The actual final sum will be determined by what these investments are,” she posited, stating categorically, “Given a very tight budget environment in Washington, I think the Ghana compact will be smaller than $547 million.” According to her, in order to be eligible there are three categories to consider, and these are ruling justly, investing in people and economic freedom – areas she noted, the country had performed creditably well, though the Government had some difficulties in respect of inflation and fiscal policies to grapple with. She maintained that the Ghana Government had been asked to first of all name a coordinator – someone who will be in-charge of putting together the compact on its (Government’s) side. “By next Summer the Government will have to submit a proposal to MCC and then we’ll go about doing our analysis and then determine what the programme should be. We will work in partnership with the Government, and I am very confident that we can deliver a second programme; but it’s not yet,” the Resident Country Director told The New Crusading GUIDE. Katerine Ntep disclosed that by August/September 2012, there will be a second compact signed. MCC, she pointed out, doesn’t have an opinion on what sectors the second compact should focus on, as that is a determination of the analysis and priorities set by the Ghana Government itself. Regarding what the first compact had been used for, she informed the paper that investments had been made in agriculture, transport and rural development; and the idea is agricultural transformation, and so a lot of work had been done. Currently, 85% of the funds had been committed in contracts; about 40% had been disbursed, and a lot of work is still underway. Ntep said over 60,000 small holder farmers had been trained in the value chain approach and had been helped to link to markets for the purchase of their produce. In addition to these, some incentive pack had been given to those farmers who had completed the training successfully to get seeds and inputs to practise the crop productivities that they had learned. Currently, there is construction underway for the perishable cargo centre at the Kotoka International Airport (KIA). Also a lot of feeder roads are under construction in the Eastern and Volta Regions as well as Savlugu Nanton in the Northern Region. Work is in progress on the N1 Highway from the Tetteh Quarshie interchange to Malam junction in the Greater Accra Region. Similarly, at Malam the contractor is building the pile which will support the roadway and ease traffic congestion at the area. On how the MCC is helping check post-harvest losses, Katerine cited the building of the roads as very critical because that would help the farmers get their produce to the market. She mentioned the building of pack houses for pineapple and mango – mainly for export - so that small holder farmers could consolidate their produce before exporting them. “We’re also building 16 agri-business centres – to be run by private operators - for maize and rice,” the MCC Country Director revealed, claiming that MiDA was working with a Ghanaian company called AMSIG which has a contract with the World Food Programme (WFP). The company, according to her, buys from the farmers, consolidates the grains and then sells to the WFP, and so they (farmers) don’t have to worry about the price and storage of the grains as well as the prospective customers. Extension of water pipes from Tamale, the Northern Regional capital, to Savlugu Nanton is being carried out to eliminate Guinea worm infection in the area. Under the MCA programme, 70 schools had been completed – with 35 located in the north. So far, the Millennium Challenge Account, Ghana Programme, has been operating in 30 districts throughout the country, which have been zoned into the Northern Agricultural Area; Afram Basin Area and the Southern Horticultural Belt. On challenges facing the programme, Katerine Ntep mentioned the world economic crisis as affecting the cost of imports which impacted on the implementation of the projects, “but we’ve managed the $547 million envelope.”
Source: Peter Atiemo/New Crusading Guide/Ghana