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‘No action’ on MCC program as US assesses situation in Sri Lanka

The United States has said that “no actions” were being taken on Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) funding worth several million dollars, as political turmoil continues to rock Sri Lanka.

“No actions are being taken either to move the compact forward or to suspend it while we assess the situation,” press secretary Laura Allen told the Tamil Guardian on Tuesday.

“MCC is closely monitoring the situation in Sri Lanka to determine its potential impact on the proposed compact,” she added.

MCC officials had just visited Sri Lanka in September where they met with senior Sri Lankan government figures including Ranil Wickremesinghe and discussions were reportedly “in the final stage of development”. At the time MCC Chief Operating Officer Jonathan Nash, said he was “pleased that progress continues on the proposed MCC compact”.

However, with action on the MCC currently at a standstill, it remains unclear as to the future of the program on the island.

Last week. Wickremesinghe claimed in an interview with Reuters that nearly USD$500 million of aid from the MCC for building of highways and improving land administration had been frozen following the crisis in Colombo. A Sri Lankan ministry official also separately confirmed to Reuters that the program was currently on hold.

Wickremesinghe claimed that over USD $1 billion of development aid destined for Sri Lanka had been frozen, as both he and former president Mahinda Rajapaksa tussle for a parliamentary majority and control of the prime minister’s office.

The lack of progress on the program follows calls for the withdrawal of trade concessions to Sri Lanka from the European Union and calls for sanctions from the International Crisis Group and senior US policy figure Samantha Power. Meanwhile several Western nations have also issued travel warnings to Sri Lanka.