Rajiv Shah, the Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development, in response to questions this week from Congressmen Adam Schiff (D-CA) and Brad Sherman (D-CA), affirmed the Obama Administration’s commitment to fully fund Congressional assistance allocations for Nagorno Karabakh and to support public-private partnerships to generate sustainable economic growth in the Samtskhe-Javakheti (Javakhk) region of Georgia, reported the Armenian National Committee of America (ANCA).
During an April 24th hearing of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on State-Foreign Operations, Congressman Schiff asked a series of questions about U.S. aid programs for Nagorno Karabakh and Javakhk. In response, Administrator Shah noted that, “in the past we haven’t expended all the funds,” adding that, “I know our Assistant Administrator for the region is committed to doing that and we believe will be successful of getting that done. With respect to the public-private partnership with the Diaspora community, we are very enthusiastic about that and think that also is a good model for how we’d like to work in the future. The Armenian community has been a very good community to work with. And so, we’re eager to kind of get that going.” The full exchange between Congressman Schiff and Administrator Shah went as follows:
Congressman Adam Schiff: Two quick questions, one funding for Nagorno Karabakh. The history of the last several years as Congress has appropriated funding USAID hasn’t used it at least not completely. We hear at times there is a lack of capacity. But it seems given the small amount that we are talking about, a leap of imagination to think that with the humanitarian needs there it couldn’t really be fully be absorbed.
So I’d like to get your thoughts on that. And I’d like to work with you to make sure we can utilize all the assistance that’s been provided to help meet the humanitarian needs there.
Second in the Javakhk region of Georgia is a very impoverished Armenian community. We have raised with the Georgian government and USAID an interest of trying to meet the needs of that population as well as the country more broadly. And over the past year Armenian-American groups have been working closely with USAID to explore a public-private partnership that could leverage U.S. assistance to Georgia and that region. If you could give us a progress report on those efforts?
USAID Administrator Shah: Thank you. I will make sure my team provides more details on both of these. But I will say with respect with Nagorno Karabakh I believe we actually have a plan to fully execute the program as we have it.
I know in the past we haven’t expended all the funds. But I know our assistant administrator for the region is committed to doing that and we believe will be successful of getting that done.
With respect to the public-private partnership with the diaspora community, we are very enthusiastic about that and think that also is a good model for how we’d like to work in the future. The Armenian community has been a very good community to work with. And so, we’re eager to kind of get that going.
I don’t have an immediate update on where that is. But I know when we put it together we were enthusiastic because it came – we had a lot of private sector commitments to leverage our resources from the get go which is relatively unique.
Congressman Adam Schiff: Thank you with that. I look forward to working with you on both those issues.