Expert’s concurrent on ratification of the MCC: Nepal’s opportunity for progress in energy and infrastructure

REPORTERS CLUB EVENT: Economists, Financial experts, and former diplomats concurrently have supported the ratification of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) aid that Nepal is eligible to receive from the United States.

Speaking at a special press interaction program organized at the Reporters Club, and officiated by the President and senior journalist Rishi Dhamala on the 24th of December, the experts spoke in favor of the grant that was being given for the development of Nepal. Former Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission Dr. Govinda Prasad Pokharel, former Ambassador to the United States of America Dr. Shankar Sharma, former Ambassador to Sri Lanka Prof (Dr.) Bishwamber Pyakurel and economic expert Dr. Dilli Raj Khanal were unanimous in their opinion on the ratification of the MCC by the Parliament.

(Former Vice-Chairman National Planning Commission Dr. Govinda Raj Pokharel) 

Speaking at the program former Vice -Chairman of the National Planning Commission Govinda Raj Pokharel has said that “there should be no dispute regarding the MCC and Nepal should move forward with it. The Parliament should pass the MCC, and receive the 500 million United States Dollar (USD) grant given by signing the compact agreement. It is for the benefit of Nepal”.

“Nepal will be the benefactor and this should not be made into an issue as it is for the development of the country and the betterment of all,” he said.

The former Vice-Chairman also said that “there is no mention of the Indo-Pacific Strategy in any part of the agreement. When Sher Bahadur Deuba was the Prime Minister and Gyanendra Bahadur Karki was the Minister of Finance, the compact agreement was made. It was during that period that we in the National Planning Commission established the office for the MCC and its activities. It is purely related to the development of Nepal’s energy sector along with infrastructure development, and he believes that this will play a major role in the development of Nepal.

(Former Ambassador to the United States of America Dr. Shankar Sharma)

Former Ambassador to the United States of America and former Vice-Chairman of the National Planning Commission of Nepal Dr. Shankar Sharma also reiterated his support for the MCC and has urged the government to move forward with its ratification. “The MCC has Democratic as well as Republicans in its committee,” he said.

Dr. Sharma also said “Nepal had qualified in all criteria’s in the various indexes of eligible countries. There was a financial index and it also looked at corruption. In December of 2011 Nepal qualified for the grant. I was serving as the Ambassador then, and Dr. Baburam Bhattarai was the Prime Minister, we were both congratulated”.

“There is no political relation when it comes to the MCC, and there are many African as well as Latin American countries that have received similar financial aid. Nepal has to ratify the compact agreement from the Parliament which has already been signed, and only site clearance work is left. The Parliament also has to ratify work related to generating the project listed in the MCC” he said.

(Former Ambassador to Srilanka Prof (Dr.) Bishwamber Pyakurel)

Former Ambassador to Srilanka Prof (Dr.) Bishwamber Pyakurel said that the Parliament needs to address the MCC at the earliest. He also clarified “since the Constitution of Nepal does not legally state that the Parliament has to pass a bill like the MCC, the Council of Ministers could have made arrangements to approve the MCC”.

“The US government has sought ratification from the Parliament for political will and credibility for the MCC aid. Nepal currently has a strong and stable government. The project will begin in the tenure of this government, and it will have three years more. The government has to place its trust and not turn this into a dispute”.

“The United States for the MCC to be implemented has sought ratification by the Parliament from each country it has given aid to. Nepal has to follow the same process, we now have two options, either to move forward with it or part away with”.

“It is for the benefit of Nepal. Let it be endorsed by the Parliament. But it is not necessary to take everything to the Parliament. If we do so then it weakens us. If the amount is over 500 million dollars then we can take it to the Parliament. Anything less can be addressed by the Council of Ministers. We can keep this condition and pass it from the Parliament”.

“The current Parliament should pass the MCC. Although three countries have refused to take the aid, we cannot let this opportunity go. This time the Parliament should ratify it but we have to put forth our conditions” he said.

(Dr. Dilli Raj Khanal Economic Expert) 

Economic expert Dr. Dilli Raj Khanal said that “since Nepal is already a signatory to the MCC compact agreement we have to address and implement it. Currently, there is a debate whether or not to implement and endorse the MCC in the Parliament, I feel that we have to receive the MCC, but at the same time we also have to clarify all the details related to the agreement”.

“There is no relation between the MCC and the Indo-Pacific Strategy. We cannot create a misunderstanding mixing the two adding on to the confusion and extending the debate. We have an agreement to pass it in the Parliament. We have to place our trust in the United States of America and along with them move forward with the MCC” he said.