Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, on Wednesday was unable to table the Millennium Challenge Corporation-Nepal Compact in Parliament after ruling coalition partner, CPN-Maoist Centre threatened to quit the government if the compact was tabled without amendments. It is expected to be tabled in the next meeting of the House of Representatives scheduled for Friday, if the leaders are able to come upon a consensus during a meeting today.
For this purpose, the top leaders of the ruling coalition will be meeting at 3 PM today. If the ruling party leaders are able to forge a consensus, the MCC will most likely be tabled in the House of Representatives on Friday.
Meanwhile, protests against the compact have intensified with several clashes between protesters and security forces being reported on Wednesday. Several protest programs have been planned for Thursday as well, and could likely interrupt traffic around Baneshwor, Maitighar and surrounding areas.
With a soon-approaching deadline, the fate of MCC’s presence in Nepal must be resolved by its political leaders soon.
The MCC consists of a USD 500 million grant which focuses on energy and connectivity. According to the agreement, the funds will be used to build a 400 kV transmission line along the Lapsiphedi-Galchhi-Damauli-Sunawal power corridor. The funding will also be used to build three substations en route to infrastructure that will connect to the Rupandehi-India cross-border transmission line. Additionally, the Nepal government has committed to provide $130 million for the maintenance of approximately 300 kilometres of roads on the East-West Highway.
While the MCC accord in itself does not state that Nepal’s parliament must ratify it, however, because the agreement’s language states that in the event of a conflict, the compact’s terms will take precedence over Nepal’s existing laws, which according to the Nepal Treaty Act requires legislative confirmation.
The US has given Nepal until February 28 to gain legislative confirmation of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) agreement.