January 29, 2020 07:23 AM NPT
KATHMANDU, Jan 29: Prime Minister KP Oli has urged parliament to expedite endorsement of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) grant from the United States, along with the regular bills, during the ongoing winter session.
Addressing the lower house on Tuesday, main opposition Nepali Congress (NC) President Sher Bahadur Deuba also insisted on endorsing the MCC without any delay.
The statement from the prime minister comes at a time when some leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) are opposing the MCC, arguing that the aid proposal is part of a ‘military alliance’ under America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy.
“Parliament, the government and others concerned need to expedite their work, otherwise we could really get late,” Oli said in the lower house. “We have to endorse a long list of bills and proposals. We have the long-standing task of endorsing the MCC, which is now awaiting endorsement by parliament after coming through different stages over the tenures of at least six or seven prime ministers.”
The government had registered the MCC in parliament in July. The $500 million US grant covers construction of cross-border transmission lines and highways.
In his congratulatory address to newly-elected Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota in parliament, Oli said the success of the speaker’s tenure will depend on how he expedites the pending tasks of parliament in the days to come.
“Although we wasted valuable time in the past, this session of parliament should be successful in taking forward the pending tasks. I believe the new leadership of parliament will successfully carry out those tasks,” said Oli.
Stating that he will put forth his views on contemporary issues soon, Oli stressed the need of unity among political forces for achieving the prosperity of the country. Prime Minister Oli also said that although the government has had to face some setback at the beginning of Visit Nepal Year 2020, it is prepared to make the campaign a success.
NC President Deuba urged the government to expedite MCC without any dilly-dallying. Addressing the lower house after the prime minister, he said “Why is MCC being held up even though it will benefit Nepal a lot. It should be taken forward, the government should express its commitment and parliament should endorse it without delay,” said Deuba.
Stating that the MCC was endorsed from the cabinet under his government after completing a lengthy due process, Deuba urged the political parties not to harbor any doubts over the grant as the US has already clarified that it is not part of any military strategy and China also has made no objections.
Former prime minister and leader of the Samajbadi Party Baburam Bhattarai demanded a national debate on the MCC, stating that it has been portrayed as the agenda of certain political parties or factions within a party. Nepal Workers Peasants Party lawmaker Prem Suwal and Rastriya Janamorcha leader Durga Paudel, however, said that parliament shouldn’t endorse the MCC, claiming that it is all a part of US military strategy.