, 2010 (STAR) By Jose Katigbak / STAR Washington Bureau – The US Millennium Challenge Corp. has said it wants an assurance the incoming administration of president-elect Benigno Aquino III will abide by the MCC’s ideals and principles, including fighting corruption, before it forks over a development grant of about $500 million to the Philippines.

The grant will be spread over five years to finance major projects in the country to reduce poverty through economic growth.

The MCC Board chaired by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton at a meeting here on Wednesday said in a statement it expected to consider a compact or grant agreement with the Philippines this year. “The Board reiterated its desire for a commitment by the new administration to the ideals and principles of MCC, including fighting corruption, and to the compact’s objectives and implementation,” the statement said.

It said the board received an update on discussions with Aquino’s people on the proposed compact program.

Informed sources said Troy Wray, country director-Philippines, was in Manila last week for the talks.

Outgoing President Arroyo had hoped to sign the compact agreement with MCC before leaving office and her senior aides were optimistic it would be done in April during her visit to Washington for a nuclear security summit.

But the MCC dashed her hopes, deferring final consideration of the agreement until a new government was installed in Manila.

“MCC is committed to leveraging its assistance dollars to reduce poverty through sustained economic growth. We will continue to effectively use our resources in this time of financial constraint to fulfill MCC’s mission and produce tangible results,” said chief executive officer Daniel Yohannes in the statement.

The Philippine compact proposal focuses on a Secondary National Development Roads (SNDR) project, Kapit-Bisig Laban sa Kahirapan-Comprehensive and Integrated Delivery of Social Services, and an Integrated Revenue information system.

US aid agency to RP: Reduce corruption for extended funding (philstar.com) Updated June 18, 2010 07:51 AM

MANILA, Philippines (Xinhua) ­­-- A United States aid agency may consider granting additional funding to the Philippines this year but challenged President-elect Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III to first demonstrate his political will to fight corruption.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) said MCC's board, headed by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, "reiterated its desire for a commitment by the new administration to the ideals and principles of MCC, including fighting corruption, and to the compact's objectives and implementation."

The statement was issued shortly after the MCC board conducted a review of its the portfolio of investments in low income and lower middle income countries. The board said it expects to consider grant agreements with the Philippines, Jordan, and Malawi in calendar year 2010, and Indonesia, Zambia, and Cape Verde in its calendar year 2011.

The Philippines failed to secure a large-scale grant from the MCC last year due to the long-standing problem of corruption in the government. But the country was re-selected to apply anew for additional funding under the MCC's compact program for its development projects.

The MCC is a US government-backed corporation designed to work with developing countries on Millennium Challenge Account (MCA)-funded programs for economic growth.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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