Guyana misses out on new US aid programme
Stabroek News
May 7, 2004

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The United States yesterday picked 16 countries to share aid to under a new programme that provides cash in return for democratic and economic reforms but Guyana did not make the final cut as had been hoped.

A Reuters report yesterday said that the 16 countries chosen for aid under the Millennium Challenge Account are Benin, Cape Verde, Ghana, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mozambique, Senegal, Armenia, Georgia, Mongolia, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu, Bolivia, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The 16 were culled from a list of 75 and Reuters said the aid might reach US$5B per year under the programme though only US$1B was set aside for 2004. Unlike traditional programmes where the donor decides how the funds are used, the 16 countries will propose schemes to be financed. “The ball is in their hands now”, Reuters quoted the Paul Applegarth, the programme’s Chief Executive Officer as saying. Each country’s share of the aid would depend on the proposals they put up.

Under the programme, US$100M would be earmarked for runners-up to better their chances of qualifying next year. Reuters said that Vietnam, Bhutan and Mauritania appeared to meet the US criteria and should receive some of these funds. It is unclear whether Guyana could be one of the beneficiaries under this tranche. The eligible countries were ranked based on 16 performance indicators ranging from civil rights to spending on public health and education. Questions were raised about corruption in Georgia and Bolivia but Applegarth said their new governments were striving to improve.

The programme was proposed two years ago by US President George W. Bush.