NCP taskforce submits report on MCC

Kathmandu, February 21

A taskforce formed by the Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to study the Millennium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact agreement today submitted its report to the party’s Co- chairs KP Sharma Oli and Pushpa Kamal Dahal.

The taskforce led by NCP Secretariat member Jhalanath Khanal was formed after majority of members in the recently-concluded meeting of the NCP central committee raised questions about some of the agreement’s provisions and its link with the US Indo-Pacific Strategy.

Khanal told THT that the task force unanimously recommended that MCC agreement can be endorsed only after amending the agreement. He said there were many shortcomings in the agreement and some of the provisions of MCC agreement undermined Nepal’s sovereignty and independence.

Other members of the committee included Minister of Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali and NCP Standing Committee member Bhim Rawal.

Prime Minister KP Oli’s personal secretariat confirmed the submission of the report. However, none of the taskforce members could be reached to comment about the content of the report.

There’s a sharp division within the ruling party over some of the contentious clauses in the pact. The leaders are of the view that the US-backed grant scheme could be implemented following an amendment.

The US side has clearly stated that since the agreement was signed in September 2017 after two years of negotiations, amendment is not possible at this point of time. MCC Deputy Vice-president Jonathan Brooks, during his Nepal visit few weeks back, also communicated the same in his high-level meetings.

The NCP leaders have also raised questions regarding the MCC’s link with the US-led Indo-Pacific Strategy, which they say is a military alliance aimed at containing China.

US officials said the MCC is a part of the economic pillar of the IPS, with other two pillars being governance and military. They also said the IPS is a new name given to the existing US policy that encompasses every US engagement in the region.

The US side has also made it clear that the MCC itself did not have any military component to it as the US law prohibited it.

Representative Ami Bera, who chairs the US House Foreign Affairs Committee’s Sub-committee on Asia, the Pacific, and Nonproliferation, is leading a bipartisan Congressional Delegation in Nepal. The team that came to Nepal on February 20 will complete the visit on February 23.

The team arrived in Nepal to assess US’ foreign policy and foreign assistance in Nepal. The four-member delegation is meeting government officials, civil society leaders and staffers of the Millennium Challenge Corporation, among others.