Remarks by MCC Vice President Sheila Herrling at the Honduras Threshold Program Signing

Mr. President,

Mr. Vice President,

Madam Ambassador,

Distinguished guests,

Ladies and gentlemen,

I appreciate the opportunity to be with all of you to mark another milestone in the relationship between Honduras and the U.S. Government’s Millennium Challenge Corporation: the signing of an agreement starting our  $15.6 million Threshold Program. I bring greetings from MCC’s CEO Daniel Yohannes who commends the people and Government of Honduras for designing the program we are about to sign and for taking on the challenge of implementing it.

The people of Honduras and the United States share a commitment to advancing democracy, human rights, the rule of law, and an open and growing economy. The Threshold Program is part of our bilateral agenda to strengthen democracy and promote economic growth in countries that are themselves showing a commitment to reform.

The Threshold Program we sign today seeks to improve the efficiency and transparency of the government. Under the leadership of President Lobo, Honduras has already made important advances in budget transparency and efficiency. These are reflected, for example, in Honduras’s score in the Open Budget Index going from 11 in 2010 to 53 in 2012. The Threshold Program builds on these advances in two ways:

First, the program will work to improve public financial management. This means improving budget formulation and execution. This means strengthening procurement capacity and controls, especially direct contracting. This means improving the capacity of the Tribunal Superior de Cuentas to carry out forensic and management audits. And this means expanding the role of Honduran civil society organizations to be monitors of government performance.

Second, the program will work to develop and implement more effective public-private partnerships.  This entails deepening the Honduran government’s capacity to develop, tender, implement, and oversee public-private partnerships. At a challenging time of shrinking public finances, maximizing the value of public-private partnerships is key to delivering public infrastructure and other essential services that are necessary for economic growth.

The Threshold Program is a new chapter in our partnership. Together, Honduras and MCC completed a successful, five year compact that increased the agricultural productivity of farmers and improved the CA-5, as well as key secondary and rural roads. In implementing the MCC compact, la Cuenta del Milenio set a new benchmark for efficient, effective and transparent project management in Honduras. Together, through the Threshold Program, we take on a new challenge of improving financial management and procurement throughout the government.

And, if we all do our work well on the Threshold Program, when the program ends three years from now, I am sure we will see a number of results.

We will see the Government of Honduras paying all obligations promptly. This increases bidder interest and competition.

We will see government ministries deliver quality services through the most efficient use of staff and resources.

We will see more public-private partnerships efficiently delivering public services, and Hondurans will view these partnerships as transparent and efficient.

And, we will see that civil society has access to information and is constructively using that information to deepen a culture of transparency and government effectiveness.

As with the compact, we will see these results not because of MCC’s efforts but because of Honduras’s efforts.  MCC will provide financial support and technical assistance, but the key to success will be the bold leadership of current and future governments to make the tough choices and the necessary policy improvements. And, we will need civil society and the private sector to monitor and demand results.

I am proud of the achievements we made under the compact, and I am confident that together we will make the Threshold Program another success so we can build a future of greater economic growth and sustainable prosperity for the Honduran people. Muchas gracias.