MCC vice president Fatema Sumar to visit Nepal next ThursdayVisit comes at a time when the US programme, which has courted controversy, is awaiting parliamentary ratification.
Fatema Z. Sumar, vice president of Department of Compact Operations at the Millenium Challenge Corporation is scheduled to arrive in Nepal on September 9.
A senior Finance Ministry official told the Post that a team from the MCC headquarters is due to arrive in Kathmandu on September 9 in order to assess the progress of the project.
Sumar’s visit comes at a time when the Millenium Challenge Corporation Nepal Compact is awaiting parliamentary ratification as Nepal’s political parties continue to be divided over the United States programme worth $500 million.
Though the detailed itinerary of the MCC team led by Sumar has not been shared with Nepali officials, according to sources, she will be meeting with Prime Minister Sher Bahadur Deuba, leader of the opposition party, K P Sharma Oli and senior government officials.
Prime Minister Deuba and his party, Nepali Congress, are positive about ratifying the MCC agreement; there are strong reservations from the ruling alliance particularly from Nepal Communist Party (Maoist Centre) and CPN (Unified Socialist).
Nepal and the United States signed the MCC agreement in 2017. The MCC, however, has become a hotly debated political issue in Nepal, with some parties objecting to it on grounds like the US programme is part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy and its parliamentary ratification would be against national interest.
The erstwhile KP Sharma Oli government failed to get the MCC endorsed through the House after a section of the CPN-UML leaders and the Maoist Centre objected to it.
Now the current Sher Bahadur Deuba government is under pressure to ratify it from the House. However, Deuba’s coalition partner is the Maoist Centre, which has not been positive about the American programme from the very beginning.
Nepal was the first country in South Asia to qualify for the compact after it met 16 out of the 20 policy indicators. Then joint-secretary Baikuntha Aryal and Jonathan Nash, acting chief executive officer of the MCC, in September 2017 signed the agreement in the presence of then minister for finance Gyandera Bahadur Karki and US Deputy Secretary of State John J Sullivan in Washington. Karki is currently law minister in the Deuba government.
Deuba was prime minister when Nepal signed up to the compact.