By A Staff Reporter
Kathmandu, Dec. 26: Minister for Foreign Affairs Pradeep Kumar Gyawali said there was no dilemma about ratifying the Millennium Challenge Account (MCA) – a programme of the United States of America extended to Nepal to develop a powerful cross-border electricity transmission line and rehabilitation of strategic roads.
"The government has decided to move forward with the agreement. Therefore, the lawmakers need not to be confused about the implementation of the development project," he said while speaking at the National Concern and Coordination Committee of the National Assembly on Wednesday.
He reiterated that the MCA was not the part of the Indo-Pacific Strategy of the US government and the programme would be audited by the Nepal government. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) was announced in 2004 while the IPS just a couple of years ago.
"When the country signed the agreement, it was witnessing political instability, governments were not stable. Therefore, the donor might have sought the parliament's ratification as the guarantee for the programme implementation," said FM Gyawali. "Situation might have been different if we had assured the US government that there wouldn't any decision against the programme," he added.
According to him, the government is firm on executing the programme and that's the final decision.
He stated that the implementation of the project like MCA would give a huge message to the world. "MCA should also be taken as the culmination of the political transition in Nepal. When the country should have facilitated the project that is in the national interest, disputes on it will breed questions on the credibility of the country itself," he said.
As per our foreign policy, we won't be associated with any alliance of any country, he said.
He said that all political partied had agreed on MCA. The agreement was signed when Nepali Congress was leading the government, its Finance Minister Gyanendra Bahadur Karki had signed the agreement in Washington DC. The ruling partner during that period was the erstwhile Maoist Centre, which is in the present government after the merger with the CPN-UML.
FM Gyawali said that some preliminary works as per the conditions set by the programme had been performed. The government had formed an independent mechanism, declared it as a national pride project.
The committee members drew the attention of the government about deciding about the programme at the earliest. Lawmaker Ramprit Paswan said that the MCC and IPS were not related with each other. Another lawmaker Jiban Budha recommended implementing the programme in a way that it would be a precedent for other projects in the days to come.
As the USD 630 million programme that included $500 million grant from the USA pushed into the controversy after some parliamentarians raised questions on it as being the part of the IPS, the MCA Nepal this week had organised a press meet to clear the confusion.
It had appealed to the parliament for the timely ratification of the MCC as the delay in approving it from the legislature might delay the commencement of the project set for 30 June next year.
Parliament's ratification is needed as per the Vienna Convention on Law on Treaties between the States according to the agreement signed between the governments of Nepal and the United States of America.
"When the parliament ratifies it, the programme will be implemented as a law which ensures smooth development," Khadga Bahadur Bisht, Executive Director of MCA-Nepal had said at the press meet.
As per the agreement between the government of Nepal and MCC – an agency of the United States of America, in September this year, the programme must be completed within five years from the date of its implementation and in case of inability to use up the budget, the remaining money would go back to the US government.