KATHMANDU, Jan 25: Chairman of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) Pushpa Kamal Dahal has said that projects under the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will be expedited in the best interests of the country after negotiating with the US on its terms and conditions if deemed necessary.
Addressing a function organized for the party’s leaders and cadres in Nawalpur district on Friday, Dahal said the projects being implemented under MCC caused controversy here as the US also unveiled its Indo-Pacific Strategy when Nepal was expediting the process for implementing the MCC projects. “We discussed a lot about the issues under MCC at our Standing Committee meeting. We have taken a decision to expedite it in the best interests of the nation and, if necessary, renegotiating with the US as far as possible,” he said.
The former prime minister argued that the US$500-million grant kicked up a dust in Nepal as there is a perception among the public that it is a part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy. A section of people here think this strategy is a military strategy of the US.
“Most recently, there was a 10-point clarification from the US embassy. We will take the necessary decision while keeping national interests at the center, keeping also in mind the embassy’s clarifications,” Dahal further said.
His remarks come at a time when the ruling NCP is sharply divided whether to expedite implementation of the MCC agreement after ratifying it through parliament. While a section of leaders within the NCP are opposed to expediting the agreement without renegotiating certain terms and conditions, others have argued that the MCC projects must be expedited without further delay.
All the opposition parties including the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) have urged the government to endorse the agreement through parliament and expedite the cross-border power lines and upgrade strategic roads as agreed between Nepal and the US under the MCC.
Amid concerns raised by some political and civil society leaders over the MCC’s possible military implications, the US embassy here recently clarified that the MCC does not have any defense component and that incorporating any such component in it would go against the existing laws of the US.
Implementation of the MCC projects is now on hold as the agreement awaits parliamentary endorsement. NCP insiders said preparations are afoot to endorse MCC through parliament after the election of the speaker of the lower house.