US Congressional delegation in Nepal as ruling NCP remains divided over MCC

Published On: February 22, 2020 08:20 AM NPT By: Republica  | @RepublicaNepal

KATHMANDU, Feb 22: Two weeks after the visit of Deputy Vice President for Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Latin America (EAPLA) for the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Jonathan Brooks, US Representative Ami Bera, who chairs the House Foreign Affairs Committee’s (HFAC) Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, has arrived in Nepal, leading a bipartisan Congressional Delegation to Nepal.

The purpose of the four-day visit of the bipartisan congressional delegation to Nepal starting Thursday ‘is to assess US’ foreign policy and foreign assistance in Nepal’. “The four-member delegation will meet with government officials, civil society leaders, staff at the US Embassy, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation among others,” said a press statement issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu.

Other members of the delegation include Representative George Holding, Member of the House Ways & Means Committee; Staff Director at the Subcommittee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation Nikole Burroughs and, Senior Professional Staff Member at HFAC Sajit Gandhi.

Prior to Nepal, Bera and his team visited India and Sri Lanka. The visit of bipartisan congressional delegation comes in the wake of Nepal’s ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) standing divided whether to endorse the MCC agreement through the parliament to pave way for its early implementation. 

Earlier on February 7, Deputy Vice President for Europe, Asia, Pacific, and Latin America (EAPLA) for the MCC Jonathan Brooks had visited Kathmandu.  The four-day visit, according to the embassy, was for holding regular and on-going consultations on MCC as part of the partnership with Nepal.

Brooks had held meeting 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. 

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, according to the embassy statement.  In September 2017, Nepal and the United States signed an agreement for a $500 million MCC grant in Nepal, the first in South Asia, following a consultative process with the government, civil society, and other stakeholders.

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