Ambassador Subasinghe meets with President Bush at the White House

President Bush compliments Sri Lanka on its economic reform program, highlighting Sri Lanka as an example of progress

Sri Lanka, the only South Asian country and one of three Asia-Pacific countries to be chosen as MCA recipient

US President George W. Bush, at a ceremony held this morning at the East Room of the White House, announced the first group of Millennium Challenge Account eligible nations which were selected last week by the Board of Directors of the Millennium Challenge Corporation.

The President met with and congratulated Ambassadors from sixteen countries namely, Armenia, Benin, Bolivia, Cape Verde, Georgia, Ghana, Honduras, Lesotho, Madagascar, Mali, Mongolia, Mozambique, Nicaragua, Senegal, Sri Lanka and Vanuatu, who were present at the ceremony.

Ambassador Devinda R. Subasinghe, Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States, represented Sri Lanka at the ceremony and President Bush met Ambassador Subasinghe individually prior to the ceremony in the Blue Room of the White House.

Announcing the selection of the first group of Millennium Challenge Account countries in an East Room ceremony at the White House, President Bush said, “two years ago, I announced a new and hopeful approach in America’s aid to developing nations. Under this approach, America has pledged to increase development assistance by 50 percent over three years. To make sure that governments make the right choices for their people, we link new aid to clear standards of economic, political, and social reform. We invited governments in developing nations to meet those standards so that they may truly serve their people.”

The President, referring to Sri Lanka said, “since launching its program of economic reform in 2002, Sri Lanka has reduced its budget deficit by a third, and cut inflation by half. Other nations represented here can point with pride to similar examples of progress.” Sri Lanka is the only South Asian country and one of three Asia-Pacific countries selected as an MCA recipient nation among the first group of countries for MCA assistance for FY 2004.

Sri Lanka’s Ambassador to the United States Devinda R. Subasinghe said, “the MCA will be a useful catalyst for further policy reforms in Sri Lanka that will lead to economic growth and poverty reduction with a focus on the rural economy. Sri Lanka will seek to harness the synergies between MCA assistance, trade and economic priorities of the new Government to creatively utilize MCA funds for achieving growth with equity.”

The President emphasized the importance of economic reform, which brings more investment and more trade, lessening the need for aid over time. He urged selected nations to develop proposals explaining how they will further address the needs of their people and increase economic growth by setting out clear goals and measurable benchmarks.

The MCA recognizes that economic development assistance can be successful if it is linked to sound policies in developing countries. The fund in the MCA, therefore, will be distributed to developing countries that demonstrate strong commitment toward; good governance, the health and education of their people and sound economic policies that foster enterprise and entrepreneurship.

Embassy of Sri Lanka
Washington DC

10 May 2004

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