MCC Passed in Napal by Government on Sunday. Nepal`s Parliament ratified the Millennium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact, after weeks of haggling among the political parties.
Deliberations started on Sunday afternoon after the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre), the CPN (Unified Socialist) and the Janata Samajbadi Party (JSP)—three partners in the Sher Bahadur Deuba government agreed to vote in favour of the compact with an “interpretative declaration”.
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With the passage of the compact, which had been in Parliament since July 2019, Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba has pulled off a coup, as he has not only managed to stick to the deadline of February 28 given to the United States, but also saved the coalition from breaking apart.
Not keen on missing the February 28 deadline, Deuba, also the president of the Nepali Congress, had deployed multiple channels to negotiate with the main opposition CPNUML to seek.
In a late night development on Saturday, the Congress, the Maoist Centre, the Unified Socialist and the JSP reached a tentative deal on passing the compact with the “interpretative declaration” attached. The leaders called it the middle path as it allowed them to keep their concerns alive.
On Sunday morning, the Maoist Centre, in a turnabout from its Parliamentary Party decision on February 16 to quit the government if the compact was moved forward in Parliament, agreed to vote in favour. The Unified Socialist followed suit. A Cabinet meeting prepared 12 points of the interpretive declaration which is shared in parliament.
Speaker Agni Sapkota said, “I declare that the Millennium Challenge Corporation agreement and its interpretative declaration have been endorsed with majority votes,”
Maoist Center, Unified Socialist, Most Members of JSP. However, it is part of the MCC clause except Bhim Rawal of UML, Prem Suwal of Majdoor Kisan Party in Nepal, Durga Poudel of coalition partner Rastriya Janamorcha, and Rajendra Lingden of Rastriya Prajatantra Party.
Rawal, UML’s only spokesperson, decided to leave the entire MCC process as the party promised to continue to interfere. However, the party did not prevent lawmakers from getting the podium. It also did not interfere with the MCC ratification process.
While expressing his view, Rawal, one of the most outspoken opponents of US subsidies, urged all lawmakers not to ratify the agreement.
Baburam Bhattarai of the Janata Samajbadi Party, also a former prime minister, Mahantha Thakur of the Loktantrik Samajbadi Party, Minendra Rijal and Gagan Thapa of the Congress and Hridayesh Tripathi, who was elected to the Parliament under UML`s election symbol, called for the compact`s ratification.
Under the MCC compact, a 315km double circuit 400kV transmission line will be constructed. Five segments of transmission lines to be built are—New Butwal India Border (18km), New ButwalNew Damauli (90km), New Damauli Ratmate (90km), Ramtane Hetauda (58km), and Ratmate Lapsephedi (59km).
Once completed, these infrastructures are expected to provide a vital missing link for power projects of different river basins to the existing high voltage grid in Nepal. A part of the $500 million will be spent on improving road projects.
The American grant, which fell into political controversy in Nepal, also exposed Dahal`s duplicity, as in a letter he cosigned with Deuba to the MCC headquarters on September 29, the two leaders had sought four-five months to ratify the compact. While Dahal continued to deny sending such a letter, he even got his political document passed by his party`s general convention in December end in which he fiercely opposed the American grant. But not only the letter, a response letter from the MCC also made it to the public domain, making it clear that Dahal was not opposed to the MCC compact while he kept on pandering to his party members.
Even as Dahal agreed to pass the compact by attaching the interpretive declaration, sister wings of his party were out on the streets on Sunday as well, protesting against the compact.