Representatives from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), an independent U.S. development agency, are visiting Sri Lanka this week to begin a partnership to overcome key challenges to economic growth and poverty reduction. The delegation met with President Maithripala Sirisena, Prime Minister Wickremesinghe, and other top cabinet ministers, along with a cross-section of industry, civil society, development partners and local government officials to launch the development of a threshold program.
“The MCC has the potential to play a major role in advancing Sri Lanka’s economic future in a transparent and sustainable way,” said U.S. Ambassador Atul Keshap. “The goal is to complement Sri Lanka-led efforts to invest in its people and create a business-friendly environment that spurs entrepreneurs and attracts foreign investors.”
Since its establishment in 2004, MCC has awarded a total of nearly $11.8 billion in grants to 40 countries on five continents. A threshold program is a country-driven partnership that aims to enhance a country’s prospects of selection for a larger MCC grant, known as a compact, by supporting policy reforms and strengthening institutions in areas that are jointly identified as the country’s greatest constraints to economic growth. Many countries have gone on to become MCC compact partners after succeeding at the threshold stage.
“We are here because Sri Lanka has made tremendous progress over the past year to reinvigorate democratic institutions, improve governance, and restore protection of human rights,” said Beth Tritter, MCC Vice President for Policy and Evaluation. “A threshold program partnership recognizes this progress and encourages the government’s ongoing commitment to these principles.”
Over the coming months, MCC and the Government of Sri Lanka will jointly identify the country’s greatest constraints to economic growth, opportunities for private investment, and social barriers to poverty reduction. The results of this assessment will help to define the policy and institutional reforms that the new threshold program will support. The program’s development will include a consultative process, engaging the Sri Lankan private sector and civil society.