Saturday, June 17, 2006

US grants RP $21-M aid for anti-graft drive

The United States has approved a $21-million aid program to combat corruption in the Philippines, the US embassy in Manila said Saturday.

The two-year initiative would strengthen the Ombudsman, a special prosecutor for criminal cases involving government officials, and the finance department and comes under the Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), a US federal agency which hands out development assistance.

The multi-million-dollar financing aims to "reduce opportunities for corruption throughout the government by training Ombudsman employees and establishing information management and investigation and surveillance capability," the embassy said in a statement.

It would also seek to improve enforcement in three revenue units of the finance department -- the Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Bureau of Customs, and the Revenue Integrity Protection Service.

The US Agency for International Development would run the program, the embassy said.

The anti-corruption aid is part of an initiative by US President George W. Bush to help countries tackle the main obstacles to their development.

"The MCC program represents an important opportunity for the United States and the Philippines to deepen our partnership by strengthening government institutions focused on anti-corruption and revenue administration efforts," US ambassador to Manila Kristie Kenney said in the statement. AFP

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