THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN

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The Ben Kaifala-led ACC May Win   $400,000 million for Salone

August 12, 2020

“Last Friday, President Julius Maada Bio received the latest report of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) into the government’s performance in managing the affairs of the country…..presented to the President by Maria Brewer, the American Ambassador to Sierra Leone…: Out of a total of twenty policy areas assessed by the MCC, the government passed eleven: Promoting Political Rights – 92%; Promoting Civil Liberties – 88%; Controlling Corruption – 79%; Putting Good Trade Policy in Place – 70%; Promoting Rule of Law – 58%; Promoting Freedom of Information – 85%; Promoting Gender in the economy – 61%; Spending on Healthcare – 68%”, etc.  (Source Sierra Leone Telegraph: 3 November 2019)

They know him to hardly smile… However, one thing that has happened on Friday 1st November 2019 in Freetown has put a  smile on the face of  Sierra Leone’s President. President Dr Julius Maada Bio has told a meeting at State Lodge that he is excited about Sierra Leone’s performance in the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Fiscal Year 2020 scorecard. The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) through a press release said that they were happy to inform the country that Sierra Leone has increased its ‘Control of Corruption’ scorecard to 79%. This is culled from a report by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) which pegs countries scorecards each year. For 2018-2019, the MCC said Sierra Leone has moved from 71 percent in 2018, and now to 79 percent in 2019, making it 8 percent upwards.  That is, it is 30 percent upwards from 22 percent last year, and moving from 49 percent in 2017 to 71 percent in 2018….This has virtually put Sierra Leone amongst the top ten performers in the MCC income category in this year’s report, and making her number two in Africa; and number one in the Mano River Union. The country passed more than 10 of the 20 indicators, including the mandatory “Control of Corruption” indicator in the 2019 MCC Report. Therefore, Sierra Leone is now “Compact Eligible”, meaning that she is eligible to benefit from the US Government around Six Hundred Million United States Dollars (US$600M)…..Similarly, Sierra Leone has also scored high in other global and regional anti-corruption rankings. In the Global Corruption Barometer, she ranked 3rd out of 35 African Countries surveyed on ‘Government’s Effectiveness in the Fight against Corruption.’ ….And the ACC followed in a press release saying that they were reassuring the public of their determination to continue to inject integrity and transparency into state governance” .(Source: By Amin Kef Sesay                   ; SIERRA LEONE MCC SCORE CARD PUTS BIO IN SMILEShttps://thecalabashnewspaper.com/sierra-leone-mcc-score-card-puts-bio-in-smiles/)

“MCC’s model of reducing poverty through economic growth is based on a set of core principles — good governance, country ownership, a focus on results, and transparency — and fighting corruption is a key part of that approach. MCC has made controlling corruption a key indicator in selecting partner countries for compact eligibility. During the development and implementation of its compacts, MCC and its country team partner organizations promote measures to prevent and detect fraud and corruption before they occur…”  (SOURCE: Sierra Leone Works to Reduce Corruption with “Pay No Bribe” Programhttps://www.mcc.gov/news-and-events/video/video-120916-sierra-leone-pay-no-bribe)

We Done Finally Pass ‘Vital Exams Subject

Some of you may know that feeling.  You want to attend the College of Medical and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) in Sierra Leone  to qualify as a doctor.  But, you must make good grades in Mathematics to enter that prestigious tertiary institution.  You take the exams the first time – you failed in Maths.  The second year – you make another “F” in Maths.  The third and fourth year – still  “F” grades in Maths.  Finally, you have a new teacher who taught you Maths so that you can understand, and when the results came out you got  a “B” in Maths.     A “B” in Maths!!!  You can now enrol to begin studying medicine!!  The sheer joy!! 

That hypothetical  scenario could describe Sierra Leone’s ‘enrolment’ in the US government’s MCC programme in 2012.  Since that time, Sierra Leone would consistently fail (failed in Corruption in  2014; Sierra Leone failed in 2015 in Corruption; Sierra Leone again failed in Corruption in  2016)  in the one ‘mandatory subject’ – “Control of Corruption” – that would qualify Sierra Leone to be eligible for a grant of   between $400 million to $600,000,000.  It was only when Ben Kaifala took over the reins of the ACC as Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC)  that Sierra Leone ‘passed its MCC exams’ –  in 2018 and 2019. 

“Even if a country passes in nineteen of the 20 indicators, and fail in Control of Corruption, the country would not get the MCC Compact”, Ansumana Swarray,  the Focal Head, Water Sector Reform Programme, Sierra Leone Threshold Programme, of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Unit (MCCU) told me as I interviewed him in the MCCU office  at 21 Spur Road, Freetown, Sierra Leone, on June 9, 2020, at about 08:50 hours. The MCCU office is managing the MCC’s $44million “Threshold” programme in the Water and Electricity Sector.

United States’ Bold New Experiment

As I did cyber research on the MCC, I trawled up the following “Testimony of Millennium Challenge Corporation, by CEO Dana J. Hyde, before the House Committee on Foreign Affairs”, dated March 15, 2016, in  Washington D.C, in the Rome-Empire-looking legislative house of  the capital city of the most powerful nation ever on planet earth, the United States; excerpts.“…….It has been over a decade since MCC was founded as a bold experiment, and in that time the model has proven to be one of the most effective ways to transform lives and create opportunity around the world. ….MCC’s support for the best-governed poor countries has been a critical tool for promoting U.S. democratic values. And it has laid the groundwork for sustained and widely-shared economic growth that lifts people out of poverty. ….As MCC enters its second decade, we are ready to build on this legacy. In FY 2017, we are requesting $1.0 billion to partner with impoverished countries and promote economic growth around the world. With your support, MCC will be able to deepen its impact fighting poverty, leverage additional financing for development, and drive innovation across the U.S. government and the international development community. .. In today’s complex global climate, smart and effective development aid is essential to ensuring long-lasting peace and shared prosperity…” (SOURCE: https://www.mcc.gov/news-and-events/speech/speech-031516-hyde-testimony-budget; Review of the FY 2017 Foreign Assistance Budget: Aligning Interests, Ensuring Effectiveness and Transparency).

Intellectual Rigor for More Urgent Aid Money

The words of Dana J. Hyde lend greater profundity to what Ben Kaifala and the ACC have catalyzed for Sierra Leone.  The MCC money being given out to developing countries is money of the United States’ TAX PAYERS.  The MCC administrators have to make reports to the legislators of the United States.  They would insist that the money of their tax payers are wisely used.  In Sierra Leone, before the Ben Kaifala-led ACC got robust,  we had too carelessly handled our tax payers’ money – allowing a few politicians and government bureaucrats to STEAL the tax payers’ money.  Hyde’s words also should concern the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation of Sierra Leone, and the Ministry of Information and Communications:  how well are they working to address the negative publicity being generated by a few Sierra Leoneans based in the Diaspora that could lessen Sierra Leone’s chances of getting the MCC Compact, and other such significant international aid? The MCC Compact is not Mathematics; it is not a done deal because a country scores high grades – there should be lobbying done; diplomacy; marketing of Sierra Leone.  I am MORE excited about the potential of this MCC Compact being clinched by Sierra Leone because of the impressive strides by the Ben Kaifala-led ACC; for almost forty years while I worked in Liberia and Nigeria for about twenty years,  part of my ideological thrust as an environmentalist has been a ‘Marshall Plan’ for Africa – the massive transfer of financing from the richest countries of the world to Africa.