Written by Staff Writer
21 Sep, 2019 | 12:25 am
Colombo (News 1st): The Advocata Institute hosted a public discussion on the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact, yesterday (September 19).
Journalist: Is the MCC a fully US government-owned agency?
MCC Country Director: Yes. It is funded by the US taxpayer.
Journalist: So if there are no strings attached, this is just America being Santa Claus for us is it?
MCC Country Director: Okay, I’ve seen this in the media, no we are not being Santa Claus. The US gives about to 2.2% of its GDP in the form of overseas development assistance. We have been doing this for decades now. If you look at European countries or highly developed economies, they actually give quite a bit more assistance than we do. We have a lot more for improvement. That’s not to say that we don’t have an interest here as well. One of the questions I get more frequently is, what’s in it for the US, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Of course, we have an interest in Sri Lanka, we are your biggest trading partner. We have a huge trade deficit with you. We want to protect our supply chains, we want to look for commercial investments opportunities for US companies, I think that’s quite normal in bilateral agreements.
We are glad that the MCC Country Director has admitted that there are indeed, no free lunches citing US interest in Sri Lanka. The question is, why the sudden interest? Why has the US gone from paltry levels of aid in the past to an exponential increase that nobody in their right mind can make sense of?
In fact, one of the first things the Trump Administration did when he came into power was take out USAID and reduce aid to Sri Lanka. Why then, such a massive change of heart? To go from less than US$40 million in aid to nearly US$500 Million.
There are no free lunches indeed. The 2.2% the US gives out in aid across the world must be taken in the context of US behaviour in the past. Going all the way back to the removal of Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddegh of Iran in the ’50s in what is often cited as a CIA and MI5 supported coup d’état to regime changes throughout the decades and even Venezuela today, a nation and its people can be justified in being vary of US “help”.
More so, when it comes wrapped up together with SOFA and ACSA. If the US sees Sri Lanka as a key ally in securing its interests, then INVEST in Sri Lanka. If they really want to give us aid, then help us pay off our massive debt. Don’t force US$500 million down our throats and expect this nation to placidly accept it.
Sri Lanka may be a small nation. Our economy does not compare to that of the US in any way. But we are a civilization that has ultimately survived countless invasions and occupations. We have existed as an independent nation despite being just a few kilometres away from one of the largest and most populous nations on earth.
This should signal a clear message to nations that think we are for sale. Perhaps our politicians are. But our people, are not.
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