Millennium Challenge Corp-Govt agreement soon | Sunday Observer

Millennium Challenge Corp-Govt agreement soon

12 May, 2019

The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) coordinating office in Colombo is hopeful that the finalisation and signing of the contract between MCC and the Government will take place towards the end of this month.

According to officials of the MCC coordinating office, Sri Lanka will obtain a grant of US $ 480 million under the biggest ever grant to be received by Sri Lanka to be disbursed over a five-year implementation time frame. The project will look into two projects; a land administration project and a transport development project.

“This is a grant that Sri Lanka has been applying for many years. Even during the previous government, former PM, D. M. Jayaratne’s secretary Sirisena Amarasekara, to discuss this among other matters in Washington. They were unsuccessful,” an official told the Sunday Observer.

After considering fresh applications made in December 2015, the MCC board of directors selected Sri Lanka for the threshold program which is the lower program of the two that is made available by MCC.

However, after reviewing the scorecard and observing continued improvements in performance as measured by the MCC scorecard, the country has been selected for the Compact program.

“Since early 2017 we have been working with the MCC collaboratively and closely, to develop a dual-sector compact program in grant funding. This project would have ideally kicked off in December last year, however due to the constitutional instability that took place resulted in a major setback in the implementation of the project,” he said.

Projects identified under the grant have been finalised after completing a rigorous due diligence process over a period of one and half years.

It is expected that the projects will assist Sri Lanka to achieve its objective of strengthening transport infrastructure and land administration.

Under the land administration project, preparation of parcel fabric map and inventory of state land, improvements of deeds registry, improvements in the land valuation system, land grants registration and deed conversion activities and land policy and legal governance improvement activities will be implemented in Kegalle, Kandy, Matale, Kurunegala, Anuradhapura, Polonnaruwa and Trincomalee, along the identified Colombo-Trincomalee economic corridor. Parties are currently negotiating to include the Gampaha district under the said category as well.

Refuting recent claims by Parliamentarian Wimal Weerawanse that under the land administration program “the US has demanded an ‘economic corridor’ of 1.2 million acres of land from Trincomalee to Colombo”, officials handling the project told the Sunday Observer that such a claim was baseless.

“According to what he stated, the US has offered US $ 400 million for the corridor which works out at rupees 24 per acre per month. The total amount allocated for the land administration program is only US $ 67.3 million,” the official explained.

Ten land registries will be digitalised under the program. An advanced Traffic Management System (ATMS) covering the metropolitan area will be developed under the Transport development project. This will entail a bus transport sector modernisation (BTSM) program. This segment also includes developing and improvement of 137 kilometres of road sections in the Central Ring Road covering and connecting Sabaragamuwa, Uva, North Central and Central provinces.

“Connected to this road development is a study to locate and finance locations for wholesale storage of agro produce in collaboration with private investors at locations on the CRR Road network to be developed to be improved post-harvest management of produce,”. Millennium Challenge Corporation is an organisation set up to corporate countries with innovative and independent US foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty.