Philippines caps off first anti-poverty compact with US

President Benigno S. Aquino III led Tuesday the closing ceremonies of the $434-million grant from Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) aimed at reducing poverty and propping up development in the country.

"The signing of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact in 2010 made $434 million in much-needed funding available to the Philippines for projects specifically targeted to reduce poverty," the President said during the event held in Malacanang.

"This was a manifestation of the trust that the American government and the people had in us. This was a commitment to help-a commitment we swore to match by ensuring that every dollar spent would have a meaningful impact on the lives of Filipinos."

Among the MCC Compact-funded project include the $222.49 million widening, rehabilitation, and improvement of the more-than-200 kilometer Paranas-Taft-Borongan-Guiuan Road, the construction or rehabilitation of 61 bridges, and slope protection, drainage, and road safety projects in Samar.

Once it is completed in July this year, this project will provide access to 13 coastal communities and will cut travel time by an hour between Tacloban, Leyte, and Borongan City, Eastern Samar.

The Department of Social Welfare and Development's (DSWD) KALAHI-CIDDS program also benefitted from the grant.

Through the compact, $132 million went to 3,984 subprojects: from community water systems, sanitation projects, and new school buildings, health stations, and access roads.

Another MCC Compact project is the Department of Finance's Revenue Administration Reform Project (RARP), which received $79.42 million in funding.

The compact has helped to launch BIR'd campaigns such as "Register, File, and Pay," and "Angat pa, Pinas" to heighten the public's awareness of their civic duty.

There is also the Electronic Tax Information System, which will help the BIR to collect, track, and analyze data, making for more efficient, transparent, and reliable audits.

The five MCC compact was signed on September 2, 2010 and entered into force on May 25, 2011.

In December 2014, MCC selected the Philippines to develop proposals for a second compact in recognition of the "significant progress achieved under the current compact and its strong efforts at policy reform, including successful efforts to root out corruption."

The decision was considered unprecedented as the Philippines still had to close the first compact.

Among those present Tuesday were Finance Secretary Cesar Purisima, Budget Secretary Florencio Abad, Public Works and Highways Secretary Rogelio Singson, Ambassador Mark Green, MCC Chief Executive Officer Dana Hyde, and US Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg.

MCC is an innovative and independent US foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. Created by the US Congress in 2004 with strong bipartisan support, MCC has changed the way US foreign assistance is extended by focusing on good policies, country ownership and results.

Source: The Philippine Information Agency