September 10: A high-level delegation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) led by its vice president Fatema Sumar has arrived in Nepal for a four-day visit to expedite the US funded project at a time when the grant agreement is yet to be endorsed by the parliament even after four years of signing the pact.
Sumar arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday (September 9) to specifically affirm that the MCC grant programme has no military component and that it will not jeopardize Nepal’s sovereignty.
The MCC delegation has intensified meetings with political party leaders, high-ranking officials and business community to push ahead with its agenda.
Sumar will discuss the required steps to implement the US$ 500 million MCC-Nepal infrastructure project during her meeting with various government officials, and business and community leaders. She will also clarify the questions provided by the Ministry of Finance and also hear the views of the people in general regarding the much-hyped grant agreement.
During her meeting with the leader of the main opposition party CPN-UML KP Sharma Oli at his residence in Balkot on Thursday, Sumar urged him to support the MCC.
According to UML’s Foreign Department Chief Rajan Bhattarai, who attended the meeting, Oli told the MCC Vice President that the UML will not make its official stance on this issue until the government makes its viewpoint clear on the MCC. Oli reportedly argued that the UML was not in a position to take a stance since it is an opposition party.
According to Oli, the incumbent government should first be clear whether to approve the MCC. “The UML will then make its stance clear. Until now, the UML has not made any perception,” Bhattarai quoted Oli as saying.
Recalling that the MCC could not be approved in the past despite efforts of UML-led government, Oli reportedly said that the UML will not have any direct role now since the party is not leading the government but is the main opposition party.
Meanwhile, the US Embassy in Nepal issued a statement reminding that the Government of Nepal had designed a five-year grant programme to provide more reliable electricity as well as power and transportation at lower costs for all Nepalis prior to negotiating and signing the agreement in 2017.
The political parties are divided over whether to endorse the grant agreement or not.