US Ambassador opposes the Government’s move
IN A LETTER SENT TO THE BENIN GOVERNMENT ON TUESDAY, MARCH 03, 2009 BY US AMBASSADOR GAYLEATHA BROWN, SHE MADE IT VERY CLEAR THAT THE UNILATERAL MOVE BONI YAYI HAS INITIATED BY APPOINTING OTHER GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES IN THE EXECUTIVE BOARD OF THE MILLENIUM CHALLENGE ACCOUNT BENIN DOES NOT ABIDE BY THE AGEEMENT WHICH WAS SIGNED BETWEEN BOTH COUNTRIES.
The whole thing started by a letter received by the current Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) Benin Coordinator from the Presidency Chief Staff letting him know that due to the appoint of new members in the MCA Benin Executive Board, a previously schedule meeting of this board could not take place.
Here is an extract from the letter:
« By executive order of the Cabinet meeting held on Wednesday, February 25, 2009 and issued to the public on March 01, 2009, the Government making rightly an interpretation of the Compact provisions has changed the Executive Board of Millennium Challenge Account composition. From now on, the Minister in charge of Maritime Economy, Maritime Transport and Port Facilities, represents the Head of State in the Board. The Ministers in charge, respectively, of Agriculture, Livestock and Fisheries, on the one hand, of Economy and Finance on the one hand again, of Environment and Nature Protection, on the other hand, of Urban Development, Housing, Land Reform and Coastal Erosion Prevention on the other hand again and of Justice represent the Government in the Board.
At last the other members of the Executive Board are:
- Benin Chamber of Commerce and Industry’s Chairman;
- A Civil Society representative;
- A representative of Benin National Communes Association;
- A representative of the National Assembly Board.
The Head of State representative will assume administration of the Executive Board. This decision taken by the Government is in accordance with the Compact provisions and must be implemented without delay. It is why I ask you to get in touch with the new Head of the Executive Board in order to have discussions over the modalities for transfer of function.
It is only after the transfer of function that the new date for the next Executive Broad session might be made public. »
The response of US Ambassador on Tuesday, March 03, 2009:
« At a meeting convened on the February 12, 2009 by his Excellency, Dr. Boni YAYI, President of the Benin Republic to insure the MCC program advancement and success, he stated he intended to restructure the Executive Board.
MCC appreciates the important initiative taken by the Government for this purpose. In fact, in the news paper La Nation issued on Monday, March 02, 2009, we read that the Cabinet had adopted the previous week a draft executive order on the establishment, prerogatives, composition and functioning of the Executive Board and the Advisory Board for Benin National Program of Millennium Challenge Account.
We express our satisfaction with the oversight at high level of this program by the Government to ensure its success. Nevertheless, the agreement signed by both Governments on February 22, 2006 has already defined very precisely the structure and the functioning of the MCA Benin
The Compact has also specifically listed, in the section 3 (c) (i) of Annex l, the transactions, the records and activities which require the initial MCC approval. It is evident that considering the Compact provisions, before the implementation of any change to the MCA Benin Executive Board and Advisory Board or other change of this nature, the initial MCA approval is necessary. Without such an approval, present structure, authorities and prerogatives remain in place. (Enclosed is the text in English and in French).
We will be please to receive from you the detailed proposals for a more effective implementation of the Millennium Challenge Account program.
Counting on your usual diligence, please accept, Your Excellency the Minister, the assurances of my highest consideration. »
The Millennium Challenge Account program was initiated under President BUSH’s administration to help developing countries combat poverty and support economical growth but the program is supervised by a US Government body, Millennium Challenge Corporation.
Benin is among about twenty (20) African countries which have been the beneficiaries of Millennium Challenge Account program.
«The five-year $307 million MCC Compact with Benin aims to increase investment and private sector activity in Benin. The Compact is comprised of four projects: increasing access to land through more secure and useful land tenure, expanding access to financial services through grants given to micro, small, and medium enterprises; providing access to justice by bringing courts closer to rural populations; and improving access to markets by eliminating physical and procedural constraints currently hindering the flow of goods through the Port of Cotonou. »
The selection of these countries has been made based on criterions among which is the « commitment to policies that promote political and economic freedom, investments in education and health, control of corruption, and respect for civil liberties and the rule of law by performing well on 17 different policy indicators. »
Alfred Cossi CHODATON