KATHMANDU, Dec 20: As the winter session of the federal parliament session is all set to commence from Friday, the main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) has decided to mount pressure on the government to endorse the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant agreement reached with the United States.
The decision of the main opposition party comes at a time when the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) is divided over the US grant and the government has already missed the first deadline for endorsing the agreement. Under the agreement, Nepal will receive US grants for transmission line and road connectivity projects.
A meeting of the NC parliamentary party on Thursday decided to urge the government to endorse the MCC compact at the earliest. “The agreement was reached during the NC-led government in the past after consensus among all major political parties. NC will draw the attention of the government to endorse the agreement without further delay,” said NC whip Pushpa Bhusal after the meeting.
Apart from its regular business, the winter session of the parliament has important tasks on its list including the election of new speaker and deputy speaker and endorsement of over three dozen pending bills and some agreements including the MCC compact.
But the first meetings of the both the House of Representatives and the National Assembly will most likely be adjourned after reading out the letter from the president about commencement of the parliament session and expressing condolences on the demise of four former lawmakers who passed away in recent months.
The ruling NCP has asked the Deputy Speaker Shiva Maya Tumbahangphe to schedule the next meeting of the lower house only at the end of next week as the NCP is still unable to pick the candidate for speaker, which is expected to be the first business of the House. After the resignation of Krishna Bahadur Mahara in early October following allegation of attempted rape, the position of speaker is lying vacant.
Amid confusions over whether the parliamentary regulations would allow the deputy speaker to chair the House meeting in the beginning and end, Tumbahangphe is all set to chair the meeting of the House of Representatives on Friday. The constitution has stated that the deputy speaker can chair the House meeting in the absence of speaker. Tumbahangphe has called an informal all-party meeting for Friday afternoon prior to the House meeting to decide about the House business for first meeting and the date of the next House sitting. Tumbahangphe said she plans to resign next week before the process to elect the new speaker begins.
The National Assembly has already finalized its potential business Friday. The upper house plans to allow leaders of major political parties to address the House in the commencement of the winter session.