American and Senegalese officials are reassuring their constituents that Senegal’s $540 million Millennium Challenge Corporation award (a grant from U.S. taxpayers for good governance) is safe.
Responding to corruption concerns raised by lawmakers and experts in a Business Insider investigation published Thursday, Ibrahima Dia, director of the MCC compact with Senegal, said “I want to reassure everyone. Senegal is eligible for the year 2010. So, for the moment, officially, there is not a single problem,” as quoted in Reussir, a Senegalese business magazine.
Our article featured a debate between experts and a politician concerned about corruption in Senegal and Tanya Southerland, the MCC resident country director, who was confident MCC had minimized risk to taxpayer money and that Senegal deserved the development assistance because of relatively strong performance on a number of good governance indicators.
U.S. Representative Ed Royce (R-Calif.) told Business Insider that “Given the brazen corruption, the aid should be stopped.” “Unfortunately,” he added, “I don’t have much confidence that the funding is safe,” cautioning that Karim Wade, the president’s son, “plays too large a role in the process.”
That and other opinions expressed in the article have attracted high-level attention in Senegal. Southerland, speaking at the same “civil forum” as Dia, said there was no “change” or “retreat” for the $540 million anti-poverty award destined for the country’s rural interior (the infrastructure projects are expected to benefit more than one million Senegalese within five years.)
According to Senegalese newspaper Le Soleil, Southerland added: “I don’t have comment on what the Senator said,” apparently referring to Royce. “It’s his opinion. We are ready to attack the roads and hydrological projects. We’re going to concentrate on that.”
Image: President of Senegal Abdoulaye Wade, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and others witness the signing of Senegal’s $540 million compact by Senegal’s Minister of Economy and Finance Abdoulaye Dip and MCC’s Acting CEO Darius Mans in September 2009 (via MCC/Flickr)
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