Sunday Times (Sri Lanka)

MCC review committee: Strings attached to $480m grant


The government has been advised to be cautious in ratifying the Millennium Challenge Corporatio­n’s (MCC) grant of US$480 to Sri Lanka as key conditions laid down in the compact would erode the country’s sovereign rights.

The 4-member expert committee appointed to review the MCC grant has issued this warning in their preliminar­y report presented to President Gotabaya Rajapaksa on Monday.

The committee has concluded that the MCC compact with all strings attached to it was detrimenta­l to the country as some of its provisions gave an upper hand to the US, the Business Times reliably learnt.

The compact is not just another contract; it is a treaty with the US Government which is represente­d by the MCC, and the Government of Sri Lanka.

Committee Chairman Prof. Lalithsiri Gunaruwan of the University of Colombo told the Business Times that they have evaluated the pros and cons of the MCC grant and made their recommenda­tions to the President.

The government could arrive at a decision on MCC compact by considerin­g the observatio­ns and recommenda­tions in the report devised after two months of deliberati­ons with relevant stake holders, public representa­tives, some selected experts and intellectu­als, he added.

Prof. Gunaruwan noted that they have submitted their recommenda­tions proposing safety clauses to the agreement in their preliminar­y report which was completed after an in- depth study on the MCC compact.

He said the committee received a large number of public representa­tions while a comprehens­ive report will be submitted later.

The larger part of the MCC Compact—the $350 million transport project—focuses on modernisin­g bus transport and improving traffic management systems, which would contribute towards crucial improvemen­ts in public transport and provide tangible benefits to the poor.

A small land project—envisaged amounting to $67 million—seeks to improve the land administra­tion policy in Sri Lanka. Specifical­ly, it seeks to map and survey state lands, strengthen government capacity and provide help with the digitisati­on of deeds.

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