KATHMANDU – Dr Yuba Raj Khatiwada, the ambassador-designate to the US, said that his role on dealing with the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) will change following his appointment as an envoy.
Responding to questions raised by parliamentarians during a hearing at the parliamentary hearings committee on Thursday, Khatiwada, a former Finance minister, said that his roles and responsibilities as the ambassador will be different than those of the Finance Minister.
As the ambassador of the country, he said that he will act based on the instructions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Asked by members of the committee what role he would play in the MCC Compact, he responded saying that he will play the role of a facilitator.
“My role has now changed. Now I will do what the Ministry of Foreign Affairs directs me to do,” said Khatiwada.
“The MCC Compact was sent to the parliament for ratification after the Law Ministry opined that some of the provisions in the Compact contravene the laws of Nepal. The Compact is currently in the parliament,” he said.
The issue of the MCC Compact was featured as a key issue during the hearing for the appointment of Khatiwada as the ambassador to the US. Under the MCC Compact, the US is set to provide Nepal a large grant of $500 million to build a cross-border electricity transmission line and repair several strategic roads.
However, several provisions in the MCC Compact, including the requirement for the parliamentary ratification, have drawn criticisms including from leaders in the governing Nepal Communist Party.
The intra-party wrangling over the MCC Compact has now made the fate of the largest US grant uncertain. Khatiwada also expressed commitment to play a role in implementing all treaties between Nepal and the US based on mutual cooperation between the two countries.
He added that he did not beg for the appointment, but rather that the government offered him the new responsibility of serving as the ambassador to the US. He said that he will prioritize economic diplomacy.
“I did not beg for the appointment. The government offered me the political appointment. It’s not that I cannot make a living without being in posts. All the responsibilities that I have received after 2066 are all offered by the government,” he added.