PH, US eye improved partnership

THE Philippines and the United States recently took another step toward enhancing economic ties following a meeting between representatives of the Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) and the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC).

The PSAC, led by convenor Sabin Aboitiz and leads Henry Aguda and Irwin Lee, discussed with MCC CEO Alice Albright the Philippine government's initiatives and programs for economic growth and poverty reduction.

The MCC, a US foreign aid agency known for time-limited grants aimed at promoting economic growth and institutional strengthening in partner countries, had stopped issuing assistance to the Philippines during the Duterte administration over human rights concerns.

It revived the partnership last December and declared the country initially eligible for smaller-scale, or threshold, funding based on a scorecard where it passed over half of the performance indicators.

MCC data showed that the Philippines had met performance standards for implementing policies that support democratic rights and economic freedom, but fell short of standards for combating corruption.

During the meeting, MCC officials expressed interest in deepening engagement with both the Philippine government and the private sector.

Albright emphasized the significance of comprehending and addressing the primary challenges faced by the nation, while Aboitiz pointed out that collaboration and consultation were vital elements for progress.

President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.'s establishment of the PSAC, Aboitiz noted, was a proactive approach to directly engage with the private sector across diverse areas, including agriculture, digital infrastructure, jobs, and others.

MCC Philippine Director Sarah Olmstead, meanwhile, stressed the significance of working closely to identify key policy areas for support.

Accompanying the MCC officials was US Embassy Deputy Chief of Mission Y. Robert Ewing, who noted the substantial economic partnership between the two countries.