Albanian Minister of Finance Ridvan Bode and Sherri Kraham, Deputy Vice President for Policy and International Relations for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, or MCC, officiated at a ceremony in Tirana, October 17th. They were celebrating the signing of Albania's second MCC threshold program, worth over $15.7 million.
This second or Stage Two program builds upon the significant successes of MCC's first threshold program with Albania and looks to institutionalize key reforms in public administration and judicial capacity building and to support anticorruption activities.
Albania's Prime Minister Sali Berisha, United States Ambassador to Albania John Withers, and United States Agency for International Development Mission Director Roberta Mahoney also participated in the ceremony.
Ambassador Withers said that during the past two years, the Millennium Challenge Corporation project has assisted the government of Albania in implementing a number of high-impact reforms aimed at reducing corruption and improving the business climate there. These include the introduction of the new tax procedure law, the development of the e-filing and e-procurement systems, and the establishment of the National Registration Center, as well as the strengthening of the Procurement Advocate and the National Agency for Information Society.
Neither the government of Albania, nor the government of the United States should be bashful in proclaiming the successes of these activities in fighting corruption and in bringing about better social reform in Albania, a close ally of the United States, said Ambassador Withers.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation's threshold programs are designed to assist countries that are on the "threshold" of eligibility for the larger, longer-term Millennium Challenge Account grants or compacts. Threshold program assistance is used to help countries address specific policy areas for improvement indicated by their scores on 17 independent policy indicators in 3 categories. These are: ruling justly, investing in people, and encouraging economic freedom.
MCC's threshold program assistance signed to date totals $440 million in 19 countries: Albania, Burkina Faso, Guyana, Indonesia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyz Republic, Malawi, Moldova, Niger, Paraguay, Peru, Philippines, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Tanzania, Uganda, Ukraine and Zambia.
Ambassador Withers said Stage Two of the Threshold Program "will build on what we together have already accomplished."