America has expressed interest about the government's works about the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement.
American Ambassador to Nepal Randy Berry met Deputy Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ishwore Pokharel on Sunday and asked why Nepal is dallying when many other countries across the globe are asking America for MCC assistance, according to Joint Secretary with the Defense Ministry Santa Bahadur Sunar.
Berry also asked about the internal preparations of Nepal after it missed the deadline of June 30 for House endorsement.
DPM Pokharel, in response, has attributed the delay for endorsement to internal discussion in the government.
Berry also enquired about the government's plans to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic even as the outbreak is raging in India and urged the government to exercise caution while resuming economic activities pointing that America is facing a big problem now due to some weaknesses at the beginning of the pandemic.
The meeting, however, was more about the stalled MCC more than anything.
Finance Ministry officials say the MCC is still not dead and state that it was to enter the construction phase from June 30 after House endorsement as per the previous schedule. They point that nowhere is it written that the agreement will be revoked if it is not endorsed by the House by that date.
Ruling CPN is bitterly divided over the MCC. 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.
The party discussed the MCC in many meetings leading up to the June 30 deadline but failed to reach agreement.