- Grant first requested in 2005 when MR was PM
- No funds transferred as claimed by experts
- Review committee had single meeting with MCC country director
By Easwaran Rutnam
The United States has debunked claims on the proposed Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact (MCC) after an expert committee raised concerns over some clauses in the agreement.
The President’s Office on Thursday quoted the Chairman of the expert committee, Prof. Lalithasiri Gunaruwan, as telling President Gotabaya Rajapaksa, that USD 7.4 million and 2.6 million had been granted to the then Government under two stages as part of the proposed deal, but the money had not been accounted for.
When contacted by the Daily Mirror, US Embassy Public Affairs Officer David McGuire said that no MCC grant monies were ever transferred to or spent by the Government of Sri Lanka under the proposed $480 million grant.
“MCC - managed funding to support grant preparatory activities — nearly all of which have been cancelled or indefinitely postponed pending the Government’s decision on whether to proceed with the grant — was made available under the same highly transparent and accountable procedures used to enable other US development work,” he said in an emailed response.
Asked if the expert committee had meetings with the Embassy to clarify its findings, McGuire said the review committee had a single meeting with the MCC country director when first appointed and did not request a meeting with Embassy officials.
He also noted that the Government of Sri Lanka first requested an MCC grant in 2005, under former President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
“It is disappointing to see the continued politicization and spread of disinformation related to the proposed $480 million grant Sri Lanka requested from the US Government,” he said.
Gunaruwan had also been quoted by the President’s Office as saying several other countries which signed the MCC deal faced negative repercussions.
“The United States has successfully partnered and signed the same standard - language MCC development grant agreement 37 times with nearly 30 countries worldwide. Every country eligible for a second grant has requested one, including recipients in Asia,” the US Embassy noted.
David McGuire said that the MCC ranks number one in transparency among US Government agencies and number one amongst bilateral donors globally, according to the 2020 Aid Transparency Index.
“The US-Sri Lanka bilateral relationship is based on US support for a strong, sovereign, inclusive Sri Lanka. With this objective in mind, the US has provided over $2 billion in grant assistance to Sri Lanka over the past 70 years,” he added.
Asked if the proposed agreement is likely to be signed despite the strong misinformation campaign carried out by certain groups, David McGuire said the decision of whether or not to accept a $480 million dollar grant from the people of the United States rests with the Government of Sri Lanka.