PH a candidate for US aid agency grant in 2019
Even as the Philippines declined the proposed fresh grant from the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) last year, the U.S. aid agency identified the country as among those in the running to be eligible for funding next year.
In a Sept. 10 report, the MCC included the Philippines among the 65 low-income countries that were candidates for Millennium Challenge compact eligibility in 2019.
“A country will be a candidate country in the low-income category for fiscal year 2019 if it has a per capita income that is not greater than the World Bank’s lower middle income country threshold for such fiscal year ($3,895 gross national income per capita for fiscal year 2019); is among the 75 countries identified by the World Bank as having the lowest per capita income; and is not ineligible to receive United States economic assistance under Part I of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, as amended (the Foreign Assistance Act), by reason of the application of the Foreign Assistance Act or any other provision of law,” the MCC explained.
The MCC also listed down five lower middle-income countries as possibly eligible for a compact next year.
In December last year, the MCC announced the withdrawal of the Philippines from the planned second grant to build better roads along the coast of eastern Luzon.
“The government of the Philippines has decided not to move forward with the development of a second MCC compact. MCC is proud of the achievements of our first compact with the Philippines, and both MCC and the United States are proud of our longstanding positive relationship,” it had said.
The MCC’s latest country scorecards released in November, which are a basis whether or not it will approve a country’s grant, showed that the Philippines got failing marks in the areas of control and corruption as well as rule of law.
The Philippines passed in more than half or 12 of the 20 independent, third-party indicators in the fiscal year 2018 edition of the annual MCC scorecard that measure a country’s policy performance in the areas of economic freedom, ruling justly and investing in its people.
The country gained passing marks in fiscal policy, inflation, regulatory quality, trade policy, land rights and access, political rights, civil liberties, government effectiveness, freedom of information, natural resource protection, girls’ secondary education enrollment rate, as well as child health.
The Philippines, however, fell short in control of corruption, rule of law, gender in the economy, access to credit, business start-up, health expenditures, primary education expenditures and immunization rates.
In contrast, the Philippines’ 2017 scorecard showed that the country garnered passing scores in 13 out of the 20 indicators, including control of corruption, rule of law and civil liberties.
However, the MCC in 2017 deferred to make a decision with regards a new compact for the Philippines to be spent on programs and projects fostering economic growth as well as slashing poverty.
That time, the MCC said the Philippines was “subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.”
The deferment was made when Barack Obama was still US President, who had been critical of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. /muf