Armenia has lost its chance to obtain funding from the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), because it has not met standards related to democracy, corruption index, transparency and other factors, the director of the Armenian mission of USAID, Karen Hilliard, said.
Armenia cannot receive the financial aid this year, because other countries had a higher rating, the official said.
“We have learned that the Millennium Challenge Corporation has made its choice. The South African nation, Lesotho, will receive the assistance. But Armenia’s name is not even mentioned in the MCC statement,” Armenian media reported.
Armenia minister of finance David Sargsyan has confirmed the issue, noting that the country had small chance to obtain the funding.
“Armenia met all formal standards and criteria, such as corruption, freedom of speech, economic indicators, to participate in the program of Millennium Challenge Corporation, but about a month ago, American colleagues reported that they have budget constraints,” said Sargsyan.
He thinks that there are countries that are more in need of the assistance.
“Armenia meets all basic criteria for applying for the program. Corruption risks were considered to be our main weak point. But today, positive changes have been made in this sphere, as well,” said earlier Tigran Sargsyan, the Armenian prime minister.
MCC signed a five-year agreement in March, 2006 to grant the Armenian government $235.65 million dollar to help it reduce rural poverty through a sustainable growth in the agricultural sector.
Since 2008, Armenia has not met MCC standards, including assessments related to democracy, corruption index, transparency, and other factors. In 2008, opposition parties rallied against results of the presidential elections. Mass riots took place, which led to death of some people.
Recently, National Statistics Service’s released a report about economic indicators, which have declined over the recent years. In addition, Human Rights Defender – Ombudsman’s recently reported that the judicial system is extremely corrupt and the amount of bribes is very high. Human rights protection filed in the country has strongly criticized by Armenian human rights defenders.
Although U.S. has noticed Armenia’s failure to meet requirements of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, but the Armenian government cannot see the reality. Armenia’s hope for receiving financial assistance from foreign organizations is likely to be doomed in the near future amid escalating democratic crisis in the country.