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US Is Ready To Clear Confusions on MCC: Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada Tells Parliamentary Hearing

(Nepali Ambassador to the United States Dr. Yuvraj Khatiwada answering the questions of the parliamentarians at a meeting of the House of Representatives, Parliamentary Hearing Committee held at Singha Durbar on Thursday. Kathmandu, 12 November 2020. Photo: Roshan Sapkota, RSS)

By N24 Staff Writer, KATHMANDU:- Nepal’s newly proposed ambassador to the United States of America (USA) Dr Yubaraj Khatiwada has said that he is in communication with the US officials and that they are ready to clear any confusion Nepal may have on the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) development project.

“In several meeting with the US officials, they have told me that the MCC project of the US government has no other interest than assisting the development endeavors of Nepal,” said Dr. Khatiwada, as he furnished replies to the questions of the Parliamentary Hearing Committee on Thursday, November 12, 2020.

“Several confusions surrounding the MCC can be cleared through the exchange of notes and letters, too, between the governments of Nepal and the US,” Dr. Khatiwada said.

Dr. Khatiwada, who served as the finance minister in the incumbent government, said that his role on MCC has now changed with the new assignment in the pipeline.

“As the ambassador of Nepal to the US, I will follow the guidelines of Nepal’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs,” Dr. Khatiwada said.

Besides MCC, Dr. Khatiwada said he will also try to streamline the USAID assistance as per Nepal’s priorities and national budget system.

The governments of Nepal and the US started talks on MCC in 2012. In 2017, an official agreement was signed between Nepal and the US for the implementation of the project.

Despite the baseless efforts from the ultra left faction of the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to plunge the MCC project into controversy, both the governments of Nepal and the US have been stressing that there is zero military component in the project.

The project mainly aims to improve roads and electric transmission lines, which were actually the priorities identified by the government of Nepal itself.

Earlier, in a statement on January 17, 2020, the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu clarified that the MCC project is focused purely on economic development by helping to build power lines and improve the roads.

“The $500 million (to be provided through MCC to Nepal) is a grant, with no strings attached, no interest rates, and no hidden clauses. All Nepal has to do is commit to spend the money, transparently, for the projects that have been agreed upon,” said the US Embassy statement, adding, “the Nepalis (themselves) proposed and decided which projects the MCC will fund in Nepal based on Nepal’s own priorities.”

In a statement delivered to NCP’s central committee meeting on January 30, 2020, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli said that MCC is not against Nepal’s sovereignty.

“As per the agreement, the MCC grant is not meant for any military purpose and cannot be diverted to any military purpose, either,” PM Oli said. “Instead, Nepal can utilize the MCC grant for Nepal’s own economic development.”

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