KATHMANDU, Feb 8: As leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) remain sharply divided over a US$ 500 million grant offered by the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), Deputy Vice President for Europe, Asia, Pacific and Latin America for the MCC Jonathan Brooks has arrived in Kathmandu on Friday.
According to the US Embassy in Kathmandu, Brooks is in Nepal for regular and ongoing consultations on MCC as part of the partnership with Nepal. “He will meet with the MCC and Millennium Challenge Account Nepal’s (MCA-Nepal) staff, the new MCA-Nepal board chair from the Ministry of Finance, and government officials, including the newly appointed Minister for Physical Infrastructure and Transport,” said a statement issued by the Embassy.
Created in 2004, MCC is an independent US government agency that provides time-limited grants to reduce poverty through economic growth to countries that meet rigorous standards. In September 2017, Nepal and the United States had signed an agreement for a $500 million MCC grant in Nepal, first in South Asia, following a consultative process with the government, civil society, and other stakeholders.
A section of leaders within the ruling NCP have raised questions about implementing the MCC projects arguing that this includes military component as well. However, the US Embassy in Kathmandu earlier clarified that the MCC grant does not include any military component and incorporating military component in the MCC is something that is strictly prohibited by the existing laws of the US government.
The differences among leaders within the NCP have caused delays in endorsing the MCC agreement through the parliament, pushing behind its implementation. Nepal plans to utilize US$ 500 million grant for constructing cross-border transmission line and upgradation of a few road section.