Vice President of Compact Operations of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Fatema Z Sumar, paid a marathon visit to top political leaders of the country as soon as she arrived in Kathmandu on Thursday.
Sumar is in Nepal leading a delegation including Deputy Vice President of MCC, Jonathan Brooks, for a four-day visit to facilitate the implementation of MCC-Nepal compact. Sumar aims to find ways to ease MCC’s ratification from the Parliament.
On Thursday, she met with chairperson of the primary opposition party CPN-UML KP Sharma Oli at the latter’s residence in Balkot, Bhaktapur and urged him to support the ratification process. She reportedly told Oli that USA wanted to complete the ratification process and implement the project soon.
In response, Oli said that his party was waiting for the government to clarify its stance on the matter. “The government has not asked our opinion on MCC. We will give our views after the government clears its position,” he was quoted as saying by Dr Rajan Bhattarai, a CPN-UML Central Committee Member.
Oli told Sumar that, his government had earlier put efforts to facilitate MCC’s ratification and implementation. He also said that the ruling coalition could ratify the project and move ahead since it has the majority in the parliament.
Sumar later met with CPN (Unified Socialist) chairperson Madhav Kumar Nepal at his party office in Singha Durbar and stated that MCC was neither a part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy (IPS) and neither a military assistance.
In response, Nepal said that the confusion regarding MCC’s nature of support was created from the US side. He stated that the issue is an agenda of discussion in the ruling coalition and his party would have a say after the discussion.
Sumar is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, CPN-MC chairperson Pushpa Kamal Dahal, various political leaders, government officials, and business and community leaders today.
According to the US Embassy in Kathmandu, she will discuss the required steps to implement the US$500 million MCC compact, address clarification questions asked by the Ministry of Finance, and hear from the people of Nepal.
“She will specifically affirm that the MCC agreement has no military component, will not impede on Nepal’s sovereignty, and Nepal’s Constitution will prevail over the agreement,” said the Embassy.
The Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) – Nepal, the implementing agency of MCC, in December 2019 had appealed the Parliament for the timely ratification of the project as it was set to kick off on June 30, 2020. However, MCC has been a contentious issue of national interest.
The US$ 630 million, including $500 million from MCC and $130 million from Nepal government– program, aims at developing large transmission lines, including the Butwal-Gorakhpur cross-border transmission facility, and rehabilitate strategic roads.