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*This post is co-authored by Sheila Herrling and Sarah Rose.
Last week the MCC and Moldova signed a Threshold Program agreement for $24.7 million aimed at targeting corruption. Moldova began its own anti-corruption reforms at the end of 2004, and MCC money will go toward strengthening independent watchdogs like NGOs and the media as well as the government’s own internal anti-corruption agency in order to address persistent corruption in the judiciary, the health care system, the tax and customs agencies, and the police.

Moldova is technically not on the "threshold" of eligibility at this point since it was one of the three new countries chosen as eligible for compact assistance in the recent FY2007 round, however Ambassador Danilovich has said "it is vital that Moldova commit itself to successful implementation of the anti-corruption initiative under the Threshold Program while it pulls together its proposal for a full-scale development Compact." This situation--where Threshold countries reach compact eligibility status before they finalize a Threshold Program--is an increasing phenomenon and has made us start thinking about the whether the Threshold Program is too targeted on improving the eligibility indicators. With several years' experience under its belt, it might be useful to examine the purpose, impact and potential other uses of the program. Send us your ideas to inform our forthcoming analysis.
More broadly, of the 11 Threshold Programs approved to date, only one--Burkina Faso--does not focus heavily on corruption. From its description, the Threshold Program can help address any policy weaknesses for countries close to eligibility, but is anti-corruption going to be the Threshold Program's main focus? Certainly corruption keeps many countries from eligibility, and aiding anti-corruption reforms, particularly where countries have shown internal commitment to them, can be helpful. We bat around two questions: First, is there any evidence that stand-alone corruption projects make a real, sustained difference in curbing corruption? Second, if the Threshold Program remains narrowly targeted to improving the indicators, might the MCC make more of a difference by Targeted other barriers to selection?

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CGD blog posts reflect the views of the authors, drawing on prior research and experience in their areas of expertise. CGD is a nonpartisan, independent organization and does not take institutional positions.