Kathmandu, January 17
The US Embassy in Nepal today made it clear that the Millennium Challenge Corporation Compact Programme was focused entirely on economic development of Nepal by helping it build its power lines and improve road network.
“There is no military component to the MCC. In fact, the US law prohibits it,” said a press statement issued by the embassy at a time when Nepali citizens, politicians and mediapersons have been raising questions about the MCC programme in Nepal. The embassy said it welcomes questions on MCC and Nepali public’s engagement in understanding what benefits the programme would bring to Nepal ‘because the MCC was founded as a new model for international development based on transparency and true partnership’.
According to the statement, the US government began working with Nepal in 2012 towards development of MCC programme at the request of Nepali leaders. Each government and every Nepali political party, while in power has expressed desire to conclude MCC project for economic development of Nepal. “Nepal does not need to ‘join’ or ‘sign up’ for anything in order to participate in the MCC. The $500 million is a grant, with no strings attached, no interest rates, and no hidden clauses. All Nepal has to do is commit to spend the money transparently for the projects that have been agreed upon,” it read.
“Nepalis proposed and decided which projects MCC will fund in Nepal based on Nepal’s own priorities. The MCC’s model requires Nepal to hire Nepalis to lead implementation of the projects. MCC project tenders are open, transparent and available to everyone. In Nepal, as in every country where MCC works, parliamentary ratification is required,” the statement read.
Recently, Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali had said the government had decided to implement the MCC after carefully thinking it over, and that the agreement would be endorsed by the Parliament. Speaking in a meeting of the National Assembly’s National Concern and Coordination Committee, Gyawali said unnecessary debate on the issue would only mislead all.
Meeting of the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) standing committee had concluded that the government should first seek formal opinion of the US to ascertain whether the MCC was part of the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy, which also comes with a military defence component, before taking any further decision.
A version of this article appears in print on January 18, 2020 of The Himalayan Times.