(JollofNews) – Barely a month after US authorities restored trade benefits to the Gambia under the African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA), high ranking officials from the Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC) have landed in Banjul to start the process of developing the threshold program.

The move comes on the heels of a new democratic dispensation that continues to attract world’s attention as the Gambia was the only country chosen for a threshold program in 2017.

“We are here to launch a new program with the government of the Gambia,” the deputy-vice president at the Department of Policy and Evaluation, Millenium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Thomas Kelly told journalists Wednesday during a presser held at Kairaba Beach Hotel, Kololi.

The Gambia is recovering from 22-year of dictatorship by the Jammeh regime, and that have left the economic sector extremely vulnerable.

After Adama Barrow’s first year in power, the government has succeeded in restoring confidence between the country and its development partners.

Kelly said the MCC is a specialized agency of the US government focusing in providing assistance to countries that have good democratic and economic governance.

“A threshold program is a technical assistance program that consists of grants from the United States government to help with policy and institutional reform,” he said.

He then added that the MCC team of experts will be helping the Gambia Government with reform in areas that would help faster economic growth.

The tiny West African nation has launched its National Development Plan (2018-2021) as the new regime “aspires to lay the foundations for a modern democratic state, but also to address pressing economic and social ills besetting” the Gambian society.

Thomas Kelly said this new collaboration is also an opportinity for the Gambia and the United States to strenghten ties around the shared goals of reducing poverty and driving economic growth more quickly. He then disclosed that the MCC high-level delegation will be meeting this week with members of the government, civil society groups and with the private sector to begin the process of identifying the priorities.

“This process of identifying priorities and designing projects will take time. About one and a half year before the MCC will take the projects to its board for approval,” he said.

Kelly said once they have done that, the MCC will begin working with Gambia gov’t to lay the foundations for rapid economic growth and greater poverty reduction.

“Gambia has made progress over this past year. This selection is in recognition to that,” he said.
He warned that their mission is not to provide a “quick fix” but to build long run economic growth. “We are trying to lay the foundations for sustained, medium and long economic growth.”

Written by Abdoulie JOHN