THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate ReleaseMarch 20, 2000
PRESS BRIEFING BY
USAID ADMINISTRATOR BRADY ANDERSON
Pan-Pacific Sonargon Hotel
4:55 P.M. (L)
MR. HAMMER: Good afternoon. The first briefing that we're going tohave today is by the Administrator for the United States Agency forInternational Development, Brady Anderson, who will talk about some ofAID's programs here in the region.
ADMINISTRATOR ANDERSON: Thank you. Good afternoon. I want to startout by thanking the people of the village of Joypura, who were so graciousto allow us to relocate the village event that the President was going toattend from the village of Joypura to the U.S. Embassy. The President wasvery disappointed that he was not able to go to the village of Joypura, butthe people of Joypura were very kind to come to him. And he had a lot oftime with them, and he had time to ask a lot of questions and learn abouttheir lives and the challenges they face.
We've had a very productive day. The President, as you know,announced several United States Agency for International Developmentinitiatives. Highlights would include the $50-million South Asia regionalinitiative, which is a power and clean energy initiative for the region,including Bangladesh, India and Nepal. It will encourage cooperation amongthe three nations in the energy sector.
The President also announced a $30-million clean energy initiative forthe country of Bangladesh alone, to enable this country to privatize, toexamine ways in which they can be more efficient at their energyproduction. He also announced a $4-million grant to the Grameen-Shaktiorganization, which is a sister of the Grameen Bank in this country ofmicroenterprise fame. And that grant will enable small borrowers to borrowmoney and purchase small solar power for their homes and their smallbusinesses, like sewing and that sort of thing.
Also, $97 million in food assistance for the people of Bangladesh, alarge part of which will be through programs operated by the World Vision,an American NGO here. Also, the President announced a debt for nature swapwhich will be under the new Tropical Rain Forest Conservation Act.
Additionally, the President drew attention to the very importantissues in this region of child labor and trafficking of women and children.He announced $3 million will be spent for education and skills training forwomen and girls who have been exploited, and $1 million for NGOs and thegovernment of Bangladesh to prevent trafficking -- sort of bringing anetwork of government and NGOs together in this country who want to preventthe trafficking of women.
Americans are a very generous people, and Bangladesh represents one ofUSAID's largest assistance programs in the world, totally in this yearabout $88 million. All around the world, U.S. assistance emphasizes thedignity and the world of individuals, helping provide an environment inwhich individuals can find opportunity for social and economic growth.
The government of Bangladesh has made enormous strides in tackling thevery difficult issue of population growth by bringing the total fertilityrate down from 6.6 25 years ago, to 3.3 today. The government ofBangladesh has strengthened its democracy and worked to raise the status ofwomen, and reduce child labor. And they have been pioneering in their rolein development with their inception of the Grameen Bank.
Discussions and agreements today will help rural communities make useof the sun, to provide electricity for their homes and their smallbusinesses. They will help Bangladesh to provide considerably increasedclean power for domestic use. And they will help create a setting forSouth Asia neighbors to mutually consider the increasing need andopportunity for regional cooperation in the energy field.
Increasingly, environment and economic opportunities occur both withina country and across borders, and our assistance specifically recognizesthis reality in South Asia.
Q Is all this money the President's to commit? Or does it requireany congressional approval?
ADMINISTRATOR ANDERSON: This money's been appropriated by theCongress.
Q Can you help summarize -- we're giving $88 million this year.How much total was announced? And is that on top of the $88 million?
ADMINISTRATOR ANDERSON: How much total was that --
Q How much total was announced to date?
ADMINISTRATOR ANDERSON: The $88 million would have to be added inwith all the other -- the $50 million, the $30 million, the $4 million --
Q And all that up to date, how much -- I was writing it down, butI'm not sure I --
ADMINISTRATOR ANDERSON: Yes -- $200 million. It all went -- the $88million will be spent in one year. The $50 million, which is a regionalprogram, including Nepal, India and Bangladesh, is a four-year program, forexample. The $30 million for clean energy in Bangladesh is also amultiyear program. The $88 million is distinct from that, includes foodaid -- about half of it, or a little bit less than half of that is foodaid.
Q I guess what I'm saying, I have -- I counted up over $80 millionannounced to date. Is that your figure?
ADMINISTRATOR ANDERSON: Yes. In addition to the $88 million.
Q In the context of the cross-border cooperation, I think there'san element of encouraging private sector cooperation across the border.Can you explain, develop that for us a little bit?
MR. ANDERSON: Yes. It's both -- it provides -- I mean, we encouragehere and a lot of places in the world, in developing countries,privatization of the power system. And that would open it up to companiesin Bangladesh or India who would like to invest, or American companies orothers -- Europeans or others -- who would like to invest in the powersector. When the power sector is broken down to its various componentparts and sold, the government can then realize the greatest benefit fromit.
So the regional concept is, bring privatization, bring private capitalbecause the governments are just not going to have the money, and thegovernment of Bangladesh will not have enough money to really develop thenatural gas that they need to. It's going to require private capital. Sothey're going to need the kind of environment with policy and regulationsthat this initiative will help them formulate both here and in the regionto attract private capital. Because the private companies are not going tocome in unless they think they can make a profit. And we believe thatdoing it regionally is the only way that's going to attract the privatecapital.
THE PRESS: Thank you.
END 5:05 P.M. (L)