This is a positive step forward in the ratification process

KATHMANDU: The United States Embassy in Kathmandu has confirmed that it has received a letter from the Government of Nepal seeking further clarification regarding the controversial Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC).

An official at the US Embassy in Nepal has noted that: “MCC received official correspondence from the Government of Nepal’s Ministry of Finance containing a set of clarifying questions regarding the infrastructure grant, which was signed in 2017. MCC is eager to answer these questions, and is working diligently to provide answers in a timely manner. This is a positive step forward in the ratification process and shows MCC’s consistent willingness to have open and transparent dialog with the Nepali people.”

However, US officials have not mentioned on the Finance Ministry’s concerns.

The US official’s statement came after news that the government had written to the US to clarify the contentious issues in the agreement with the MCC. The Ministry of Finance wrote a letter to the MCC headquarters through the US Embassy in Nepal on Friday.

According to top finance officials, the letter has been requested to clarify on whether the MCC falls under the US ‘Indo-Pacific Strategy’, whether the MCC has security implications for Nepal, whether the project will be audited by Nepal or the US, and whether the agreement is above Nepal’s constitution and law.

MCC Vice President Fatema Sumar and Vice President Jonathan Brooks are preparing to visit Nepal next week. Earlier, the government had written to the MCC headquarters to clarify the issues raised about the MCC.

On the eve of the MCC vice-president’s visit to Nepal, some youths staged a protest in front of the US embassy on Friday morning demanding the repeal of the MCC.

Even within the major political parties, there are differences of opinion on the MCC. They argue that the MCC agreement was in line to establish US military intervention in Nepal. However, the government of Nepal and US officials have repeatedly denied on this issue.

According to the agreement reached between the Government of Nepal and the MCC in 2017, Nepal will receive a grant of around US$ 500 million for energy and road projects. No other country has donated such a large grant for Nepal’s recent development process.