Speaker Sapkota “not in hurry” to endorse MCC agreement

MCC Compact Nepal

KATHMANDU, Jan 27: Newly elected Speaker Agni Sapkota has said that he is not in a hurry to endorse the Millennium Challenge Corporation grant agreement, signed with the United States in September 2017.

Under the deal, the US government will provide a $500 million grant—which is the biggest grant Nepal has ever received, while Nepal will invest $130 million in the national priority projects that will prioritize energy transmission and improve road infrastructures. 

The MCC Nepal Compact was been sent to the parliament for ratification on July 15 and awaits endorsement. 

However, the leaders of the ruling Nepal Communist Party have been divided over the compact. 

A section of leaders has argued that the implementation of the MMC agreement should not be expedited before renegotiating certain terms saying it is the part of the Indo-pacific strategy and thus is a threat to national sovereignty. But another section, including Prime Minister K P Sharma Oli, is in favor of expediting the deal without further delay.

Amid speculations that the compact will pave way for the deployment of US military in Nepal, the US Embassy has clarified that the MCC does not include military component, but is focused purely on economic development. 

“The MCC deal is still under discussion. But the conclusion is not far away. Thus, it will be a hurry to jump to a conclusion now,” said Sapkota while assuming office on Monday.

The ruling party sources have said that the party has already made preparation to endorse the MCC through the parliament once the speaker gets elected.

But it is yet to see how Sapkota, who once publicly opposed the MCC deal, will behave once he heads the parliament from Tuesday.

Sapkota was elected unopposed as the Speaker of the House of Representatives on Sunday, replacing Krishna Bahadur Mahara, who resigned in October following a rape attempt allegation. Sapkota was sworn-in by President Bidya Devi Bhandari today morning.