Friday, December 12, 2014

After India, US and China compete to help Nepal

US and China are competing to help Nepal, after the southern neighbour India.
The US – under Millennium Challenge Corporation – is going to fund between $100 million and $600 million per project, whereas the northern neighbouris going to fund RMB 800 million, according to the Finance Ministry.
With the restoration of stability and improved economic prospects, the development partners are increasing their assistance to Nepal. In August, Southern neighbour India had also pledged $1 billion soft loan for Nepal.
The MCC selection is is also a message of Nepal’s shift from a conflict-ridden country to a stable one with a parliament and agencies for good governances that are active, and an image-booster in the global arena. The MCC assistance will not only directly channeled to the national budget, it will also help whitewash Nepal's image in the international community that its ready to development.
The US has decided to make Nepal eligible for its large-scale Compact Programme for investment, finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat said, adding that the move has come due to improvement in various economic indicators and the country's progress in institutionalising democratic process.
The board of the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) – in its press note issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu – stated that Nepal’s consistent strong performance on the MCC’s eligibility scorecards as well as its progress in institutionalising democratic progress.
The MCC Board meeting, held in Washington DC yesterday, selected Nepal for the US government’s multi-year agreements to fund specific programmes targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth.
Following the board’s selection of Nepal for the Compact Programme, MCC’s chief executive Dana J Hyde called Prime Minister Sushil Koirala and informed him about the board’s decision. Compact Programmes are multi-year agreements between the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) and a given country to fund specific programmes targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth.
"The government of Nepal has made great progress in establishing democratic institutions that are responsive to its citizens," Hyde was quoted in the US Embassy’s statement. "The decision provides an opportunity for US to deepen its bilateral relationship with Nepal and help improve the lives of Nepali people."
Premier Koirala, on the occasion, thanked Hyde for Nepal’s selection for the programme. He also thanked the US government for the assistance and its continuous support for the socio-economic development of Nepal.
Likewise, MCC vice-president Tom Kelly called finance minister Dr Ram Sharan Mahat on phone and informed the MCC decision to help Nepal.
Dr Mahat thanking the MCC informed him of the country's willingness to utilise the investment in the infrastructure, especially in hydropower and road transportation.
The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) had selected Nepal for its threshold funding in December 2011 also but Nepal was yet to receive any grant under the funding, in the form of small-scale grants.
Earlier, a joint team of Nepal and the US had prepared a Growth Constraints Analysis report, along with a diagnosis of the constraints, for the MCC.
Joint Secretary at Finance Ministry Madhu Marasini said that Nepal has been directly chosen for the large-scale funding between $100 million and $600 million per project. “A team from US will visit Kathmandu in January and they, alongwith Nepali officials, will select projects in energy and road infrastructure, which are major growth constraints,” added Marasini, who is also chief of the International Economic Cooperation Coordination Division under Finance Ministry.
Along with Nepal, the MCC board has also selected Mongolia and the Philippines as eligible for new Compact Programme recipient countries, in addition to the previous 25 countries.
MCC is an innovative and independent US foreign assistance agency that is helping lead the fight against global poverty. It forms partnerships with some of the world’s poorest countries, but only those committed to good governance, economic freedom and investments in their citizens.
There are two primary types of MCC grants: Compacts and Threshold Programmes. Compacts are multi-year agreements between the Millennium Challenge Corporation and a country to fund specific programmes targeted at reducing poverty and stimulating economic growth. Threshold Programmes are smaller-scale grants awarded to countries that may not qualify for compact funding but are firmly committed to improving policy performance.
Likewise, China has also pledged to increase grant assistance for Nepal by over 400 per cent in the next fiscal year 2015-16. "China is providing a grant of around RMB 800 million (approximately Rs 12.93 billion) in the fiscal year 2015-16," said finance secretary Suman Prasad Sharma, who is visiting China next week to sign the agreement. "China has committed an assistance of RMB 150 million for the current fiscal year 2014-15."
A team led by Sharma is leaving for China on Monday to take part in Inter-governmental Economic and Technical Committee meeting. The meeting that is being held after seven years, is scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday, will discuss issues related to trade, investment and foreign assistance.
The country has received  Rs 84.34 billion foreign aid commitment – Rs 10.96 billion more than what the country received in the last fiscal year – in the first quarter of the current fiscal year.
Nepal has, however, received foreign cash loans of Rs 1.99 billion and foreign cash grant of Rs 3.34 billion in the first three-month between mid-July and mid-October, in terms of actual flow, the central bank data revealed.

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