The much-disputed Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement will not be dead even if it is not endorsed by the House by June 30.
There have been rumors that it must be endorsed by June 30. The House meeting, meanwhile, has been adjourned until July 1. But Finance Ministry officials say there is no deadline for House endorsement of MCC.
"The stage until now is that of preparation. The MCC will enter the construction phase from June 30 as per the schedule," a ministry official stated when asked why there have been talks about the June 30 deadline. "Nowhere is it written that the agreement will be revoked if it is not endorsed by the House by that date."
It will, however, be difficult to move the projects under the MCC forward even if it is not revoked. Bids have yet to be invited for construction of the transmission lines and repair of roads under the MCC. "There is no way tender process can be started amidst the current uncertainty," the officials said.
It will also be financially difficult to move the MCC forward. "We have to ask for reimbursement of the spent amount from America as per the agreement," the official added. The official revealed that reimbursement for expenses occurred on the MCC since last September has not been done as it is stuck in the House.
Ruling CPN is bitterly divided over the MCC and the standing committee meeting that started on Wednesday will discuss the issue.
CPN has already decided to stop all works related to the MCC until it is endorsed by the House.
Many including Chairman Pushpa Kamal Dahal are unhappy about the projects under it being included in the government's policies and programs and then the budget, and want to take a decision on the MCC in the party.
But Prime Minister (PM) KP Sharma Oli has been pointing that the MCC, which the main opposition party Nepali Congress has already urged the government to pass, has already been tabled in the House and it will be decided by the House and not political parties.
CPN had hotly debated MCC even during the standing committee meeting in December 2019 with the erstwhile Maoists and those from Madhav Kumar Nepal faction opposing it saying it should only be passed if it becomes clear that it is not part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy floated by America.
The US embassy in Kathmandu later issued a 10-point statement clarifying that the MCC is not part of military affairs.
The press statement, which it said was in response to a large number of queries from Nepali citizens, politicians, and members of the media about the MCC, claimed that every Nepali government since 2012 has been in favor of the MCC and that there is no military component to the compact.
The issue was raised even during the central committee meeting that concluded on February 2 and the party formed a task force to address the issue. The party formed the task force led by senior leader Jhala Nath Khanal and including Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali and standing committee member Bhim Rawal as members on February 2 to study MCC to find out whether it is part of the American military strategy or not.
The task force recommended that it should not be endorsed without amendment. But Foreign Minister Pradeep Gyawali had put a 15-point dissenting opinion.