The United States hope that Sri Lanka will eventually approve the $ 480 million Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant that will assist Sri Lanka to address binding constraints to economic growth.
“We plan to sign the grant last December, but the political crisis here unfortunately put our mutual plans on hold. As soon as the crisis was over our board of directors reconvened and approved the $480 million grant for Sri Lanka and now we are waiting for the cabinet approval,” MCC Sri Lanka Resident Country Director Jenner Edelman told members of the Sri Lanka – USA Business Council of the Ceylon Chamber of Commerce in Colombo yesterday (29).
Speaking at the ‘Understanding the MCC Compact’ forum, Edelman noted that MCC grant will help to upgrade Sri Lankan road network and improve the primary mode of public transportation.
“Getting transport right is the key to mark Colombo as a regional hub for finance, trade and investment” she added.
Speaking further, Edelman noted that, under this agreement, Sri Lanka will retain oversight and control of all aspects of the proposed projects, all roads undergoing improvements and every aspect of the effort to digitize land records and to produce accurate land surveys.
“Now this project has got a lot of negative intention in the media.”
“First the US and the MCC will not buy, own any land under this agreement. It is illegal under Sri Lankan law for foreigners including Americans to buy or own land here. Second, MCC compact has no connection with US military.”
“We are independent,” she added.
The compact will be composed of two projects: a Transport Project and a Land Project.
Of the total $480 million MCC grant, $350 million is for the transport infrastructure project while $67 million is dedicated to the land administration project.
The Transport Project aims to increase the relative efficiency and capacity of the road network and bus system in the Colombo Metropolitan Region and to reduce the cost of transporting passengers and goods between the central region of the country and ports and markets in the rest of the country.
The land administration project will assist the Government to map and survey State lands and enter data in the Government’s e-State Lands Information Management System, strengthen the Government’s capacity to accurately assess State and private lands, carry out research in support of measures to improve land administration policies.
Furthermore, “the MCC compact will provide opportunities for Sri Lankan companies to compete and win multi- million dollar projects,” Edelman said
“This program was proposed by Sri Lankans. Developed by Sri Lankans and will be managed and supervised by Sri Lankans.”
“We are looking for talent. We want private sector expertise and we pay really well,” Edelman added.