MCC agreement passed by majority in parliament

654

The House of Representatives today ratified the Millennium Challenge Corporation compact with interpretative declaration.

After hours of intense debate in the Lower House of the Parliament, Speaker Agni Prasad Sapkota declared that the MCC compact was ratified by the House as per Article 279 of the constitution.

The Sher Bahadur Deuba-led government secured the parliamentary ratification of the deal amidst the main opposition CPN-UML’s continued obstruction of House proceedings as the two ruling coalition partners – the CPN-Maoist Centre and CPN-Unified Socialist – which had been threatening to vote against the MCC compact, decided to back the deal with some interpretive declaration.

The CPN-MC and CPN-US changed their strategy after Deuba threatened to break the coalition and form a new alliance with CPN-UML if coalition partners did not vote in favour of the MCC compact.

The US had set a deadline of February 28 to secure parliamentary ratification of the MCC compact and threatened to grant the $500 million pledged for construction of Nepal’s electricity transmission lines and road upgradation project to other countries that were waiting for American grants.

Finance Minister Janardan Sharma, who had sought a general debate on the MCC deal, later presented a 12-point interpretive declaration of the deal following which a debate started in the House. Speaker Sapkota put the MCC compact to vote around 9:00pm, following which it was passed with voice vote.

Some leaders of the ruling coalition, particularly the left parities opposed the compact.

Earlier, former prime minister and Janata Samajbadi Party-Nepal leader Baburam Bhattarai said although the language of the MCC compact was a bit like a loan deed, there was nothing objectionable in the deal. He said the issue became controversial due to geopolitical rivalry and strategic competition between great powers. He said Nepal should maintain a balance between great powers, the way Singapore and Finland did to achieve economic growth without antagonising any power.

Bhattarai said forces that were calling the US an imperial force should know that those countries that championed the socialist ideology were pursuing capitalistic policies and as per Lenin’s definition these countries were now imperialists. In an oblique reference to CPN-MC and CPN-US Bhattarai said some parties had polarised the country by spreading false information about the compact.

Bhattarai said Nepal needed American grant under the MCC compact as the country needed capital and technology to achieve goals of economic growth. He said the country needed to spend Rs 1,800 billion on development and infrastructure, but at present it was spending not more than Rs 800 billion.

He said Nepal should seek assistance from all countries, including the US, India, and China.

People’s Progressive Party lawmaker Hridayesh Tripathi, Nepali Congress lawmakers Minendra Rijal and Gagan Kumar Thapa, and Democratic Socialist Party-Nepal leader Mahantha Thakur also supported the MCC compact.

Rijal said the 53 countries that had received MCC grants had either reached closure or were on the verge of closure of the process.

He said interpretive declaration would not change the MCC deal but some leaders were talking of interpretive declaration because they want to pacify their cadres who were misled by themselves. He said Nepal should seek grants from all the countries, including the US, India, and China.

Gagan Thapa said the US would have to abide by the interpretive declaration. He said all the political parties, excluding the Nepal Workers and Peasants Party, were involved in the MCC compact.

He said it was wrong on part of lawmakers to mislead the public by saying that the compact would be above Nepal’s constitution and American law would apply in case of any conflict.

Tripathi said those who were talking of independence and dignity should question themselves as thousands of Nepalis were migrating to foreign countries for employment.

CPN-UML lawmaker Bhim Rawal opposed the MCC deal calling it unequal and against national interests.

Some lawmakers from ruling coalition partners — the CPN-MC and CPN-US also opposed the MCC compact.

Among them were Jhalanath Khanal, Dev Prasad Gurung, and Giri Raj Mani Pokharel.

Khanal and Rawal said the deal violated national sovereignty as it stated that the American law would prevail over Nepali laws in case of a conflict.

The MCC had clarified in September that the Constitution of Nepal would prevail over the MCC compact, and the deal was not related to any defence or military strategy.

MCC authorities have said that the US law governing MCC prohibits it from using funding for any military purpose.

Finance Minister Janardan Sharma had sought a general debate on the MCC compact.

He had also presented interpretive declaration of the compact in the House of Representatives.

Source :The Himalayan Times