12th February, 2020
Kathmandu : A committee formed by the ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) to study whether an agreement on a $500 million grant offered by the US government should be endorsed through parliament, is preparing to seek a deadline extension. The committee formed on February 2 was initially given 10 days to come up with a report and its deadline is expiring Wednesday.
The committee is led by former prime minister Jhalanath Khanal. After failing to come up with a report on time, the committee met at Singha Durbar Tuesday and decided to request for an extension of the deadline.
“We are still studying the provisions of the MCC grant and the report writing task also will take some time so the committee will need a term extension,” said Khanal after the meeting.
Khanal didn’t mention how many days will be extended but hinted that a request will be made to the party’s highest body before the term expires.
The ruling party is sharply divided over the MCC grant.
The panel led by former prime minister Khanal includes senior party leaders Pradeep Gyawali and Bhim Rawal as members. The committee was formed after most of the central committee members stood against the US grant meant for a cross-border electricity transmission line and road projects.
As the members of the three-member committee are themselves hold differing opinions regarding the grant, there are speculations that the committee might recommend the party against endorsing the agreement from parliament.
Khanal himself has been publicly arguing that some provisions of the agreement need a serious review before the grant deal gets a parliamentary nod. Another member Rawal has been standing against the agreement ever since the issue surfaced. Arguing that MCC grant was provided to Nepal as part of strengthening a military alliance in South Asia under America’s Indo-Pacific Strategy, Rawal has been advocating for scrapping the US grant deal.
But Minister Gyawali supporting the stance of Prime Minister KP Oli, is in favor of endorsing the grant from parliament at the earliest. He has been assuring the US that the agreement will be endorsed from the ongoing parliamentary session.
The agreement was supposed to be endorsed by the previous session of parliament but that could not happen due to the dispute within the ruling party over the grant. The grant was the most disputed issue in the NCP central committee meeting that ended Sunday.
Source: My Republica