Dorji Khandu

Journal of a Young Parliamentarian

đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 đ“đšđźđ«đąđŹđŠ 𝐋𝐞𝐯đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐

In the afternoon, His Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Tshering Minister for Finance introduced the Tourism Levy Bill of Bhutan 2022.
The Bill was deliberated in the National Assembly on 20th & 23rd June 2022 and was adopted today and forwarded to the National Council as a Money Bill.
Introducing the Bill, Lyonpo highlighted that the reasons for amending the Bill were mainly to revise the Sustainable Development Fee (SDF) from USD 65 to USD 200 per night to strictly adhere to the High-Value Low Volume principle. He said that with the law in place it will portray Bhutan as a culturally, exotic place.
The introduction was followed by questions by the Members on the various benefit of this Bill for the youth; plans and programmes to ensure balanced regional development, plans for infrastructural development; incentives for tourists who want to stay on for a longer period; and procedures put in place to avoid fronting issues and other policy challenges.
Hon’ble Ugyen Tshering, the Chairperson of the Committee In-charge highlighted the background of the Bill and presented the Bill to the House for deliberation along with the recommendations. He reported that the Committee has accepted most of the National Assembly’s amendments with some minor changes.
In deliberating the Bill, although the House adopted most of the provisions, few provisions were reverted to the Committee for further deliberation. The House directed the Committee to prepare the Bill for the final adoption on Monday, 27th June 2022, taking into consideration the views and suggestions shared by the Hon’ble Members.

𝐇𝐹𝐼𝐬𝐞 đšđđšđ©đ­đŹ đŸđšđźđ« đđąđ„đ„đŹ 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ«đžđŁđžđœđ­đŹ 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐹𝐹𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ’đžđ«đŻđąđœđžđŹ đ“đšđ± (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐

As per the directives of the House in the 13th sitting of the ongoing session, the Economic Affairs Committee presented the general recommendations and adopted the Annual Budget Fiscal Year (FY) 2022-2023, Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill of Bhutan for the FY 2022-2023 and Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill of Bhutan for the FY 2021-2022.
Both the Bills were unanimously adopted with all 23 members present voting in the favour of the bills along with recommendations related to the road sector, hydropower sector and extension of the repayment period for education loans.
Subsequently, the House adopted the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022 with all the members present voting in favour of the Bill.
The House approved the Good Governance Committee’s recommendations to reject the Goods and Services (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022. Of the 23 members present, 22 voted in favour of the Committee’s decision while 1 abstained from voting.
The Goods and Services Tax Bill was first introduced in the 24th session of the National Council where the House raised concerns about the legality of the commencement date, and the preparedness of the Government for immediate implementation. Thus, it was recommended that the National Assembly withdraw the adoption of the GST Bill 2020 until all necessary systems are in place including training of staff and creating public awareness; and introduce the amendment of the Public Finance (Amendment) Act 2012. The recommendations of the National Council were, however, not considered.
Again, in the 27th session of the National Council, the Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill was introduced with the proposal to defer the commencement date of certain chapters. The House remained steadfast with the decisions and passed the same recommendations, yet again the National Assembly did not consider them. The Bill is introduced for deliberation in the House for the third time with the proposal to amend the same sections of the GST Act.
The National Council remains concerned that until such time the section 46B of the Public Finance (Amendment) Act 2012 is amended, any deviation from it would amount to willful violation of the prevailing law, and to accept and pass any bill that is ultra-vires is a threat to the rule of law and legislative norms. Therefore, considering the unchanging essence of the issue under deliberation, the National Council stands resolute with its past recommendations and could not find any compelling reasons to support the amendment as proposed.
All the aforementioned Bills will be forwarded to the National Assembly for re-deliberation.

đ—Ąđ—źđ˜đ—¶đ—Œđ—»đ—źđ—č đ—–đ—Œđ˜‚đ—»đ—°đ—¶đ—č đ—źđ—±đ—Œđ—œđ˜đ˜€ đ˜đ—”đ—żđ—Čđ—Č đ—•đ—¶đ—čđ—č𝘀 đ—źđ—»đ—± 𝗰𝗼đ—čđ—č𝘀 đ—łđ—Œđ—ż đ—”đ—°đ—°đ—Œđ˜‚đ—»đ˜đ—źđ—Żđ—¶đ—čđ—¶đ˜đ˜† đ—Œđ—» 𝗚𝗩𝗧

The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, the Committee In-charge of the Framework Agreement on the Establishment of the International Solar Alliance presented the Bill for adoption. Accordingly, the House unanimously adopted the Bill with 21 Members present and voting.
The Natural Resources & Environment Committee, the Committee In-charge of the Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan 2021 presented the Bill for adoption. The Members with a show of hands approved all the Committee recommendations and unanimously adopted the Bill with all the 21 Members present and voting.
Similarly, the Good Governance Committee, the Committee In-charge of the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022 presented the final recommendations on the Bill for adoption. The Members with a show of hands approved the Committee’s recommendations and unanimously adopted the Bill.
The Bill will be forwarded to the National Assembly along with the recommendations.
G𝐹𝐹𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ’đžđ«đŻđąđœđžđŹ đ“đšđ± (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐
The Good Governance Committee reiterated the recommendations of the 24th Session of the National Council on the GST Bill and expressed similar concerns over the legality of the commencement date, and the preparedness of the Government. The Members re-emphasised the support for GST but strongly disagreed with the lack of responsibility and accountability the Ministry of Finance expressed at yesterday’s presentation. Upholding the National Council’s responsibility as a House of Review, the Members also submitted that despite the recommendations the NC has submitted, the National Assembly has not heeded the concerns.
The Chairperson directed the Committee to prepare the final recommendations for the House to adopt.

đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ…đąđŹđœđšđ„ 𝐈𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐱𝐯𝐞 (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐆𝐹𝐹𝐝𝐬 𝐀𝐧𝐝 đ’đžđ«đŻđąđœđžđŹ đ“đšđ± (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭 ) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐

As per section 47 of the Public Finance (Amendment) Act of Bhutan 2012, the Minister for Finance introduced the Fiscal Incentive (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan, 2022 and the Good and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022. The House then continued with the deliberation on the Annual Budget Report 2022-2023, Budget Appropriation Bill for FY 2022-2023, Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill 2021-2022 and proposed recommendations by the Economic Affairs Committee on the Money Bills.
Introducing the Fiscal Incentives (FI) (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022, Lyonpo Namgay Tshering, Minister for Finance presented the proposal to repeal section 56 (1) of the Fiscal Incentives Act of Bhutan 2021. Briefly reporting on the background for amending the Act, he stated that the amendment will address the legal quagmire surrounding the foreign exchange.
Similarly, introducing the GST (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022, Lyonpo proposed a deferment of the GST implementation date. He reported that the deferment is proposed on the grounds of the economic situation of the country and that the IT system (BITS) is not operational and will take another two years for the system to be developed.
For the FI Bill, Members sought clarification on the consultative meetings on the FI Act.
The Members of the Good Governance Committee called on the Government for accountability for not delivering the GST and resolving the Bhutan Integrated Taxation System (BITS) since 2020 after spending more than 200 million Ngultrum with a projected loss of 3 Billion Ngultrum in the country.
Members also noted that the House has supported the GST as it has far-reaching benefits to the country including eradicating tax leakages.
Finally, the Members also questioned the Hon’ble Minister on the status of the Public Finance Amendment Bill.
Subsequently, the House continued with its deliberations on the Annual Budget Report 2022-2023, Budget Appropriation Bill for FY 2022-2023, Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill 2021-2022 and the proposed recommendations by the EAC on the Money Bills. While the House adopted almost all the provisions, some of the Members shared their concerns on road construction; hydropower projects; and educational loan deferment. Therefore, the House reverted the Bills to the Committee in charge to prepare for the adoption in the coming sitting taking into consideration the views shared.
The FI (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2022 was also deliberated with the Committee in charge of presenting their recommendations to the House. The House as per the proposal of the Committee adopted all the provisions of the Bill. The Bill will be submitted in the coming sitting for adoption.

đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ€đ§đ§đźđšđ„ 𝐁𝐼𝐝𝐠𝐞𝐭 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐-𝟐𝟑 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ’đźđ©đ©đ„đžđŠđžđ§đ­đšđ«đČ 𝐁𝐼𝐝𝐠𝐞𝐭 đ€đ©đ©đ«đšđ©đ«đąđšđ­đąđšđ§ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐅𝐘 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏-𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐

Today, His Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Tshering, Minister for Finance introduced the Annual Budget for 2022-23 and the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill FY 2021-2022. This was then followed by deliberations on the budget report 2022-2023 after the Economic Affairs Committee presented the recommendations on the Bills to the House.
Introducing the Annual Budget for the FY 2022-23 to the House, the Minister briefly highlighted the economic performance and outlook, national response to COVID-19; economic recovery measures; transformation Initiatives; public financial management reforms; fiscal performance and outlook; budget priority areas for FY 2022-2023; and selected financial performance of SOEs.
He also said that the Budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023 has been prepared with the main focus on ‘Accelerating Economic Recovery through strategic investment in food self-sufficiency, human capital development, sustainable infrastructure development and improved social security.
He reported that the total expenditure for the financial year 2022-23 is estimated at Nu.81,827.311 million of which recurrent allocation is Nu. 36,340.942 million and capital allocation is Nu. 45.486.369 million. A supplementary appropriation of Nu. 3,866.933 million was allotted from the approved budget of Nu.80,483.150 million for the financial year 2021-2022.
The Hon’ble Minister highlighted that the budget for this fiscal year will ensure optimum use of available domestic resources while minimizing the import of non-essential items.
Members sought clarifications on the policies the Royal Government is considering to ensure that twin deficits do not lead to crowding out of the private sector from the financial sector and rapid depletion of foreign reserves; activities identified for and the tentative budget allocated under the Transformation Initiatives; and the reduction in controllable expenditures made by the Ministry of Finance in each budgetary agency.
Subsequently, Hon’ble Member Ugyen Tshering, Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee presented the recommendations on the bills. The Committee was assigned by the House to review the two budget bills upon receiving from the National Assembly. Deliberating and adopting the three first chapters of the annual report 2022-23, the House adjourned the sitting to continue with the deliberation tomorrow.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ‚đąđŻđąđ„ đ‹đąđšđ›đąđ„đąđ­đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐊𝐱𝐧𝐠𝐝𝐹𝐩 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐 đœđšđ§đœđ„đźđđžđŹ

Today the Members expressed their views on whether there was a need for the inclusion of a section on wild animals’ destruction of people/properties; filing malicious cases without a reasonable basis; as well as who the right authoritative body would be to make rules and regulations for this Bill.
In the last two days, the Members sought clarifications, and intensively discussed and deliberated the provisions, following which, Mijey Thrizin re-directed the Committee to revisit the unapproved provisions taking into consideration the views of the Members.
The deliberations on the Civil Liability Bill which began on 15th June and concludes today after 3 days of in-depth discussions.
Accordingly, the Bill will be presented for adoption along with changes in the coming sitting.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 đ‚đąđŻđąđ„ đ‹đąđšđ›đąđ„đąđ­đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐊𝐱𝐧𝐠𝐝𝐹𝐩 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐

The House today continued with the deliberation on the Civil Liability Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2022. The Bill was introduced in the House yesterday by the Legislative Committee.
Deliberating on the provisions of the Bill, Members shared concerns that the same provisions covered by other Acts will create confusion during its implementation. The formulation of the Civil Liability Bill of Bhutan, according to Members, is to consolidate, harmonize and codify tort provisions spread across the existing legislations, but this objective will be defeated if the same provision is not repealed. Some of the Members suggested the committee accept the existing provisions and inclusion of the provisions that are missing out.
The Members also asked the committee if the provision on ‘apology’ is necessary since it is already covered in the Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of Bhutan (2013). Hon’ble Ugyen Tshering, the Deputy Chair of the Legislative Committee clarified that this provision is to encourage a person to make an apology about an incident without the apology being construed or used as an admission of liability in relation to the incident. Arbitration is also to reduce the number of cases, but resorting to arbitration does not mean that the person is not liable to pay compensation.
During the deliberation, most Members sought clarification on terminologies and definitions. Some of the Members also asked about the inclusion of product liability and the specification of the professionals for clarity. The House directed the committee to prepare for adoption after addressing the concerns shared by Hon’ble Members.

đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐭𝐹 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ‚đąđŻđąđ„ đ‹đąđšđ›đąđ„đąđ­đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟐

The Legislative Committee (LC) introduced the Civil Liability Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2022 to the house. The Committee was assigned to draft the Bill in the 27th session and the Committee has been working on the drafting of the Bill since then.
As per the statement of the objective and reasons, the main objective of the Bill is to provide a comprehensive legal framework on civil liability to the extent possible, by consolidating the scattered legislative provisions into a single, user-friendly law. It will also provide adequate guidance on the method of calculating the amount of compensation. The civil liability law will also bring about accountability and transparency in society and the governance, and inspire respect, trust and confidence in the legal system, thereby enhancing the Rule of Law in the country.
Presenting the Bill, Hon’ble Dhan Bdr. Sunwar, Chairperson of the Committee reported on the references and in-depth consultations carried out in drafting the Bill. He said that despite the lockdown the committee continued to work on the first draft and also established a translation committee to come out with a comprehensive Bill. All together the Bill consists of 11 chapters and 181 provisions.
Subsequently, Eminent Member Ugyen Tshering, Deputy Chairperson of the Committee provided an overview of the background, structure and importance of the provisions of the Bill. Highlighting the significance of the reforms, he said that the Bill is indeed historical as it brings accountability and transparency to society.
The Hon’ble Members sought clarifications on the Bill from the Committee and shared concerns about whether it was possible to simplify some of the provisions of the Bill; duplication of the provisions; references of the best practices; compensations; public consultations; authoritative bodies; and transparency among others.

đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 đ…đ«đšđŠđžđ°đšđ«đ€ đ€đ đ«đžđžđŠđžđ§đ­ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ„đŹđ­đšđ›đ„đąđŹđĄđŠđžđ§đ­ 𝐹𝐟 đˆđ§đ­đžđ«đ§đšđ­đąđšđ§đšđ„ đ’đšđ„đšđ« đ€đ„đ„đąđšđ§đœđž

The 8th Sitting of the National Council resumed with the introduction of the Framework Agreement on the establishment of the International Solar Alliance by His Excellency Lyonpo Loknath Sharma, the Minister for Economic Affair.
Introducing the Framework Agreement, Lyonpo reported that the idea of a solar alliance was first initiated by India and France in November 2015. Lyonpo said that it has a lot of benefits for membership in the International Solar Alliance is voluntary and entails no financial obligation on the part of its members. Outlining the benefits of joining ISA, Lyonpo said it will be an opportunity for our country to get monetary and technical support, and also in capacity building.
Solar energy is also expected to change the situation of importing electricity in winter to meet the domestic need if Bhutan joins the International Solar Alliance, he said.
Most of the members agreed that the benefit of joining ISA outweighs the negative implications. However, some members shared concerns regarding political implications, readiness for project implementation, and the possibility of giving the project to the private sector. Some even asked who will be the National Focal Point for ISA to which Lyonpo said that they have not identified the focal point due to the current Civil Service Reform.
The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee (SCAC), the Committee in charge presented the Framework Agreement for the establishment of the International Solar Alliance for deliberation to the House.
Hon’ble Member Lhaki Dolma, Chairperson of the Committee highlighted the background on the various works carried out by the Committee to review the Framework Agreement.
The committee accepted most of the amendments by the National Assembly and amended some of the sections. “Every home no matter how far away will have light is the main aim of the Framework Agreement”, she said. She also highlighted that it would cater for the need for people living in remote areas like Singye Dzong, Aja Nye and Lunana.
While deliberating the Framework Agreement, the House accepted all the committee’s amendments.

Continue deliberation on the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021

The House continued deliberations on the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021. Most of the remaining provisions were approved.
The House directed the Committee to discuss the disputed clauses along with the other Members before the final adoption of the Bill.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐹đČđšđ„ 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 đđšđ„đąđœđž (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

The Good Governance Committee presented the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021 for deliberation. The Bill was introduced by the Minister-in-charge on 3rd June 2022.
The Bill was passed in the 5th session of the 3rd Parliament of the National Assembly (NA) and forwarded to the National Council. The Good Governance Committee of the National Council (GGC) was assigned by the House to review the Bill.
Briefly outlining the various consultations and field visits carried out by the Committee, the Chairperson of the GGC presented the committee proposal in the Bill. The Bill provided an overview of the current provisions of the Act, proposed amendments, amendments by NA and the Committee’s recommendations.
He reported that in total (42) provisions were amended, of which the NA has amended 38 provisions, and 26 provisions were repealed. The Committee accepted 31 provisions as proposed by NA, amended 7 provisions and proposed 5 new provisions.
While deliberating the Bill, the Hon’ble Members shared views on the inclusion of female representatives in the Police Service Board, and the value of wider representation. However, some of the Members were of the view that the maximum member of the Board should be seven citing indecisiveness as a problem.
Accordingly, the House referred back the disputed provisions to the Committee. The Committee was directed to revisit the provisions along with Members who shared their concerns.

NREC consults with RCSC on the Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan 2021

Upon directives by the House, the National Council’s Natural Resources and Environment Committee met with the Royal Civil Service Commission led by the Hon’ble Chairperson of RCSC to discuss on certain sections of the Biodiversity Bill, 2021.
The Chairperson of RCSC indicated that the restructuring of Civil Servants and agencies are at an initial stage. The Commission also shared few suggestions concerning the bills, followed by discussions on the restructuring of Civil Servants in progress, amongst others.
The Committee will decide based on the meeting outcome and present the Bill in the upcoming final deliberation of the House.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đđąđšđđąđŻđžđ«đŹđąđ­đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

The House continued with deliberation on the Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan 2021.

The Bill originated in the National Assembly of Bhutan and was passed in its 6th session of the Third Parliament. Upon receiving the Bill, the National Council assigned the Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC) with the review work.

With the introduction of the Bill by the Minister in charge, the NREC presented the Bill to the House for deliberation yesterday. Today, the House deliberated on all the 157 sections of the original Bill, the amendment proposed by the NA, and the recommendations proposed by the Committee.

While the House adopted most of the sections of the Bill, the Committee was directed to revisit some of the sections taking into consideration the views shared by the Members.

 


đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 đđąđšđđąđŻđžđ«đŹđąđ­đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

The 3rd sitting of the National Council resumed introducing the Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan 2022 by His Excellency Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor, Minister for Agriculture and Forests.

Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor emphasized the importance of this revised Bill. He said the need to revise the Act became necessary to harmonize the Biodiversity Act with the existing policies, acts and international instruments. The revision also provides an opportunity to harmonize the provisions on access to and utilization of genetic resources that have been found in different laws. The Bill repeals the Biodiversity Act of Bhutan 2003.

The Bill, he said was passed in the 6th session of the Third Parliament in the National Assembly and forwarded to the National Council as per the procedure. The Bill consists of 12 chapters and 157 sections. He further iterated that the revision of the Biodiversity Act of Bhutan 2003 ensures that people get maximum benefits, with regulated access to genetic resources and associated traditional knowledge.

The introduction of the Bill was followed by questions whereby Hon’ble Members asked about power and offences; the consolidation and comparison of the Act with existing laws; the proposal to amend the Bill; as well as the consultations between the Ministry of Agriculture and the National Environment Commission and the status of rules and regulations amongst others.

The Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC), the Committee in-charge presented the Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan 2021 for deliberation to the House.

Hon’ble Member Dorji Khandu, Chairperson of the Committee, highlighted the background on the various works carried out by the Committee to review the Bill. He informed the House that Bhutan had been one of the few countries to formalize conservation programs in the national development plans as early as the 1960s, and Bhutan became a party to the International Convention on Biological Diversity in 1995.

Presenting the Bill, he said that the Committee identified issues and made relevant changes to resolve the issues in implementing the Bill. The Committee also identified and tried to resolve the issues related to various sections of the Bill. He further stated that the major changes made by the Committee are on biological and genetic resources.

The sitting concluded with the Hon’ble Members seeking general clarification on the Bill from the Committee in-charge.

 


đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐹đČđšđ„ 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 đđšđ„đąđœđž đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

The session was then followed by the introduction of the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021 by His Excellency Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji, Minister for Home & Cultural Affairs.

Introducing the Bill, His Excellency reported that the primary reason to amend the whole Bill is to mainly harmonize and resolve the existing issues on implementing the Royal Bhutan Police Act 2009. He said that although the National Law Review Taskforce felt the need to harmonize sections (77) and (111) of the Royal Bhutan Police Act 2009, owing to the importance of the act, the Government has decided to review the whole Act and directed the Home and Cultural Affairs Minister to take the lead. He said the amendment will also address various issues on the benefits of the personnel among all the three-armed force agencies.

The Bill was set to be tabled during the 4th session of the 3rd Parliament of the National Assembly but it has been deferred due to the pandemic. Therefore, it was deliberated during the 6th session of the 3rd Parliament of the National Assembly. The National Assembly passed the Bill by approving 33 sections, inserting 1 new section (16) (A) and repealing 26 sections.

The Good Governance Committee will present the Bill to the House in the coming sitting.

It was followed by some members seeking various clarifications on the (Amendment) Bill to the Hon’ble Minister.

 


đ…đšđ„đ„đšđ°-đźđ© 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ«đžđŹđšđ„đźđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝟐𝟖𝐭𝐡 𝐬𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧

Today, the House resumed with the responses received by the relevant committees on the resolution passed by the National Council in the 28th session.

The respective Committee highlighted the background and outlined the responses and implementation status of the resolution passed by the House during the 28th session.

The Legislative Committee reported on the response received from the Office of Attorney General through the Cabinet on the Codification, Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Laws. However, the answer was not in line with the resolution passed by the House. Therefore, the Committee was directed by the House to follow up with the concerned authority and report back to the House.

Reporting on the responses received from the relevant ministries on the resolution passed during the 28th session on mental health issues and suicide, the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee members reported that the Committee did not receive a response on some of the resolutions. It was also informed that the responses received from the Ministry of Health require more clarity. Therefore, the House decided to conduct a question and hour session with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Health as per the Committee’s proposal.

The Natural Resources and Environment Committee submitted the response received from the Ministry of Finance on the review report of the State-Owned Enterprises. On this, the House agreed to the committee proposal to continue with the follow-up of the resolution and report back in the next session on the implementation of the resolution since all the activities were an ongoing process.

Similarly, the concerned Hon’ble Members who had put up questions on behalf of the House to the relevant ministry in the 28th session also reported on the implementation status to the House. Follow-up reports on questions were on the issue of delayed implementation of the lease of Tsamdro and Sokshing; Kholongchhu Project; status of drafting education act/policy/regulation; and the national food security and self-sufficiency.

 


đŽđ©đžđ§đąđ§đ  đ‚đžđ«đžđŠđšđ§đČ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝟐𝟗𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đđšđ­đąđšđ§đšđ„ đ‚đšđźđ§đœđąđ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧

The 29th Session of the National Council started with Zhudrel Phuntshok Tshogpai Tendrel, followed by the opening address by His Excellency Tashi Dorji, Chairperson of the National Council.

Cordially greeting the honourable guests, Deputy Chairperson, Hon’ble Members, Secretariat staff and media representatives along with the viewers on television and social media, the Hon’ble Chairperson, in his opening remarks, highlighted that it is indeed an auspicious sign that the session will bear a fruitful result as the opening of the 29th session of the National Council coincides with a momentous day.

The day is considered very important for all the Bhutanese as it is the Coronation Day of His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo Jigme Singye Wangchuck. The day is also celebrated as the Social Forestry Day in the country to pay tribute and respect to His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo for his contribution to nation-building. The Chairperson took the opportunity to also offer his wishes and prayers for the long and healthy life of His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo and wished all the citizens a delighted Social Forestry Day.




𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧 đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­

Prime Minister Lyonchhen Dasho Dr. Lotay Tshering tabled the Annual Report on the State of the Nation to the Joint Sitting of the House today.


đđšđ«đ„đąđšđŠđžđ§đ­ đœđšđ§đœđ„đźđđžđŹ đđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đđźđ›đ„đąđœ 𝐀𝐜𝐜𝐹𝐼𝐧𝐭𝐬 𝐂𝐹𝐩𝐩𝐱𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐞’𝐬 đ«đžđŻđąđžđ° đ«đžđ©đšđ«đ­đŹ

The House today continued the deliberation on the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) review reports. On the follow-up review report of surface collection and dredging of riverbed materials (RBM), the House was informed that out of ten issues of lapses and irregularities, four have been settled, and five are partially settled whereas one issue is yet to be settled as of 29th October 2021.



𝟏𝟐𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐱𝐭𝐭𝐱𝐧𝐠 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝟐𝟖𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đđšđ­đąđšđ§đšđ„ đ‚đšđźđ§đœđąđ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧

The 12th Sitting of the National Council (NC) commenced with the re-deliberation of the Civil Society Organizations (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021. The House also adopted the final recommendations on the various legislation and policies reviews as proposed by the respective Committees.


12 Sitting

‱ Re-deliberation on The Civil Society Organizations (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021
‱ Adoption of recommendations on issues related to Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislations.
‱ Adoption of recommendations on Anti-Corruption Commission Annual Report 2020-2021.
‱ Adoption of the Civil Liability Bill/Tort Bill.
‱ Adoption of recommendations on issues related to State-Owned Enterprises (SOE).
‱ Adoption of recommendations on Suicide and Mental Health Issues in Bhutan.
‱ Adoption of The Civil Society Organizations (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021.

𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐟𝐱𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐔𝐧𝐱𝐭𝐞𝐝 𝐍𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧𝐬 𝐂𝐹𝐧𝐯𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐀𝐠𝐚𝐱𝐧𝐬𝐭 đ‚đšđ«đ«đźđ©đ­đąđšđ§ (𝐔𝐍𝐂𝐀𝐂)

The Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) presented the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) for ratification in the 11th Sitting of the ongoing session today.
With 19 ‘NO’ and 3 ‘ABSTAINED’ of the total 22 members present and voting, the House rejected the National Assembly’s amendment to revoke the earlier reservation on Article 66(2) and accepted the recommendations of the Committee to denounce and re-accede to the Convention with reservations on Article 66(2) in the interest of the nation.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐱𝐞𝐰 đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝐹𝐧 đŒđžđ§đ­đšđ„ đ‡đžđšđ„đ­đĄ 𝐈𝐬𝐬𝐼𝐞𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐒𝐼𝐱𝐜𝐱𝐝𝐞 𝐱𝐧 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧

In the 11th Sitting, the Members of the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee (SCAC) presented the review report on Mental Health Issues and Suicide in Bhutan to the House today.
Hon’ble Lhaki Dolma, Chairperson of SCAC stated that the review is based on the mandate prescribed in the Constitution of Bhutan and the National Council Act. She also reported that the National Council identified mental health issues and suicides as an important national issue during the workshop on “Developing a Strategic Roadmap for the 3rd National Council (2018-2023)”.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐱𝐞𝐰 đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝐹𝐧 đƒđ«đšđŸđ­đąđ§đ  𝐚 đ‚đąđŻđąđ„ đ‹đąđšđ›đąđ„đąđ­đČ đđąđ„đ„

The House carried out an in-depth deliberation on the Review Report on Drafting a Civil Liability Bill presented by the Legislative Committee (LC).
In the 27th Session of the National Council, the Legislative Committee recognized the need for tort law in the country, and inspired by His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo’s vision of an accountable society based on Rule of Law, LC submitted a proposal for the enactment of tort law. Accordingly, the House directed the LC to draft a Civil Liability Bill (Bill).

10th Sitting

‱ Adoption of the Anti- Corruption (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021.
‱ Adoption of the Customs Duty (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021.
‱ Adoption of the Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021.
‱ Adoption of the Goods and Services Tax
(Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021.
‱ Adoption of the Fiscal Incentive Bill of Bhutan 2021.
‱ Adoption of the Preferential Trade Agreement between the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Royal Government of Bhutan

𝗗đ—Čđ—čđ—¶đ—Żđ—Čđ—żđ—źđ˜đ—¶đ—Œđ—» đ—Œđ—» đ—™đ—¶đ˜€đ—°đ—źđ—č đ—œđ—»đ—°đ—Čđ—»đ˜đ—¶đ˜ƒđ—Č (𝗙𝗜) 𝗔𝗰𝘁 đ—Œđ—ł đ—•đ—”đ˜‚đ˜đ—źđ—» 𝟼𝟬𝟼𝟭

In the 9th Sitting today, the Hon’ble Member Ugyen Tshering, Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee presented a brief report on the Bill to the House. He reported that the Committee was assigned to review the Bill taking into account all the recommendations and views shared by the Hon’ble Members. He further reported that along with the concerned Members, the Committee also conducted a meeting with the Ministry to clarify some of the issues in the bill. Altogether, the Committee proposed a total of 41 sections for amendment in the Act.


Introduction of 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ…đąđŹđœđšđ„ 𝐈𝐧𝐜𝐞𝐧𝐭𝐱𝐯𝐞𝐬 đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏.

The Bill was deliberated in the ongoing session of the National Assembly and adopted on 6 December 2021. The Bill was declared as a Money Bill and forwarded to the National Council.


đŸłđ˜đ—” đ—Šđ—¶đ˜đ˜đ—¶đ—»đ—Ž: đ—œđ—»đ˜đ—żđ—Œđ—±đ˜‚đ—°đ˜đ—¶đ—Œđ—» đ—źđ—»đ—± đ—±đ—Čđ—čđ—¶đ—Żđ—Čđ—żđ—źđ˜đ—¶đ—Œđ—» đ—Œđ—» đ˜đ—”đ—Č đ— đ—Œđ—»đ—Č𝘆 đ—•đ—¶đ—čđ—č𝘀

The Finance Minister, Lyonpo Namgay Tshering, introduced three money bills in the House for amendment this morning. The Bills included the Custom Duty (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021; the Tax (Amend) Bill of Bhutan 2021; and the Goods and Services Tax (Amend) Bill of Bhutan 2021.




4th Sitting

The House today resumed its deliberation on the five recommendations proposed by the Legislative Committee (LC) on the review report on Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislations presented yesterday, 30 November 2021.

While the House supported the recommendations as proposed by LC on the review report on Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislation, the Hon’ble Members also suggested additional recommendations to the Committee on simplifying and creating awareness on the existing laws, rules and regulations. As highlighted by the committee, the Hon’ble Members also recommended repeal of the Education City Act which is the lone legislation that could be repealed immediately and to also explore the procedure in repealing other obsolete laws. Recommendations on the need to further carry out in-depth research to identify obsolete laws in the country and make the existing policies, guidelines, rules and regulations, and international conventions, treaties and agreements consistent with the laws adopted by the parliament by the relevant ministries, agencies, and stakeholders were also proposed by the Hon’ble members amongst others.

The House assigned the Committee to revisit the recommendations taking into consideration the additional recommendations proposed by the Hon’ble Members and present the final recommendations to the House for approval.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 đ«đžđœđšđŠđŠđžđ§đđšđ­đąđšđ§đŹ đ©đ«đšđ©đšđŹđžđ 𝐓𝐡𝐞 đđšđ­đźđ«đšđ„ đ‘đžđŹđšđźđ«đœđžđŹ 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ„đ§đŻđąđ«đšđ§đŠđžđ§đ­ 𝐂𝐹𝐩𝐩𝐱𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐞 (𝐍𝐑𝐄𝐂) đ©đ«đžđŹđžđ§đ­đŹ 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐱𝐞𝐰 đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝐹𝐧 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞 𝐎𝐰𝐧𝐞𝐝 đ„đ§đ­đžđ«đ©đ«đąđŹđžđŹ
The Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC) presented its review report on State-Owned Enterprises (SOE’s), an in-depth deliberation took place on the five recommendations proposed by the Committee. The Committee also clarified the issues raised by the Hon’ble Members on the proposed recommendations.

Hon’ble Member Tirtha Man Rai, Chairperson of NREC briefly stated the background, problem-statement and the objectives of the report and proposed five recommendations to the House.

Stating the existing number of SOEs in the country, the Hon’ble Member reported that the objective of reviewing the issues is to understand the operation and management of SOEs under the Ministry of Finance for effective and efficient service delivery.
Highlighting the problem statement, he reported that the general perception is that SOEs compete with the private sector and crowd out the private firms due to favourable government terms. Besides, SOEs have been established rampantly raising concerns of their establishment for the execution of political pledges.

The Committee recommendations include Reconstitution of SOEs; exploring the possibility of establishing Farm Shop Services by the gewogs; location for Petroleum, Oil and Lubricant (POL) Services; Waving off of a certain portion of Non-performance -loans; and the Government to develop and implement the Charter or Bylaws.

The House referred the report back to the Committee as most of the members were of the view that the recommendations of the Committee require further deliberation and clarification. Therefore, the House asked the Committee and the concerned members to revisit and finalize the recommendations for adoption.

𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐹𝐹𝐝 đ†đšđŻđžđ«đ§đšđ§đœđž 𝐂𝐹𝐩𝐩𝐱𝐭𝐭𝐞𝐞(𝐆𝐆𝐂) đ©đ«đžđŹđžđ§đ­đŹ 𝐱𝐭’𝐬 đ«đžđŻđąđžđ° đ«đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐱-đ‚đšđ«đ«đźđ©đ­đąđšđ§ 𝐂𝐹𝐩𝐩𝐱𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧’𝐬 đ€đ§đ§đźđšđ„ đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟎-𝟐𝟏
Specifying the provision of the Constitution, Hon’ble Member Surja Man Thapa, Chairperson of the GGC reported that the Annual Report 2020-2021 is the 14th report and the first report of the Third Commission submitted to the Druk Gyalpo, Prime Minister and the Parliament. He said that the report encompasses the performance for the period of 18 months, from January 2020 to June 2021.
As per the norm of the House, the Annual Report 2020-2021 has been assigned to the Good Governance Committee (GGC) for its review. The review report consists of Performance of the ACC; Organizational Outlook; Implementation Status of Resolutions of the Parliament; and Issues for deliberation and Recommendations.


đŸ‘đ«đ 𝐒𝐱𝐭𝐭𝐱𝐧𝐠

The Foreign Minister His Excellency Dr. Tandi Dorji introduced the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to the House today. Following the introduction and responses to clarifications and concerns raised by the Hon’ble members, Hon’ble Member Ugyen Tshering, Chairperson of Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) presented the review report done by the Committee to the house.
Highlighting the context and background of the UNCAC, Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji reported that the Parliament ratified UNCAC with reservation on paragraph 2 of Articles 66 in 2015. He said that his Ministry failed to register the reservation in spite of the attempt to register in 2016, 2017 and 2018, due to late submission of the reservations endorsed by the Parliament. His Excellency also explained the remedy and its implication in order to correct the lapse. He also said that the National Assembly in its 5th session of the 3rd Parliament has opted to ratify the convention by revoking the Parliament’s earlier reservation. He added that denunciation and re-acceding to UNCAC with reservation is allowed, however, there will be a negative impact on the activities carried out by Bhutan.
Expressing their concerns, the Hon’ble Members sought clarification from the Hon’ble Minister on the reasons for the late reservations by the Ministry despite Parliament having adopted the convention in its earlier session. And to rule out setting such precedents in the future, the Members suggested having a procedure in place. They also suggested that concerned authorities and officials be held accountable for the failure on their part and the Members also sought clarification on financial implications amongst others.
Subsequently, the Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee, Hon’ble Ugyen Tshering presented the Review Report of UNCAC to the House with the recommendation to revoke the earlier reservation of the Parliament to Article 66 (2) of UNCAC.
He reported that the Committee was assigned by the House to carry out the review work in the last session. Reiterating on the background of the Convention, he said that UNCAC is the only binding legal international instrument against corruption. He further presented the committee findings and the recommendation to the House.
Most of the members suggested that there is a need to further deliberate and clarify on the procedural lapses by concerned authorities on the late reservation. And a need to sort out issues with the relevant stakeholders before ratifying the Convention.
The House assigned the EAC and the concerned Members to hold a meeting with relevant stakeholders in order to resolve the issues highlighted by the members in the House. The Committee was also asked to present the final review report and the recommendation to the House for ratification.
The Legislative Committee presented the review report on consolidation, repeal, and publication of legislation along with five recommendations to the House.
Hon’ble Member Phuntsho Rapten, Chairperson of the Legislative Committee presented the Review Report on Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislations.
Briefly highlighting the background, he said that as per the directive from the house, the Committee is presenting the report with the view to generate debates and create public awareness about the issue that concerns the lives of Bhutanese citizens every single day. He said in reviewing the issue the committee referred to the legal sources combined with consultations of stakeholders as a research methodology.
The Hon’ble Member Choining Dorji, LC member presented the observations of the committee which includes the volume and complexity; multiple laws on a single subject matter; unnecessary and irrelevant laws; and incomplete legal sources. He reported that only the National Law Review Task Force has made the effort and came up with a number of recommendations aimed at “harmonizing and consolidating” various laws but they remain unimplemented thus far. He said that the report focuses on the changes that can be made to existing laws via codification, consolidation, repeal and publication of laws.
The Hon’ble Member further submitted the recommendations of the Committee. The recommendations include codifying laws; consolidating laws; repealing obsolete laws; establishing an official gazette, and the Government and the Parliament consider the National Law Review Task Force’s report.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐓𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐧𝐭𝐱-đ‚đšđ«đ«đźđ©đ­đąđšđ§ (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭 ) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

The Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee of the National Council, Hon’ble Surjaman Thapa presented the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021 during the first sitting of the 28th Session of the National Council on Friday, November 26, 2021.
The House deliberated some of the provisions submitted by the Committee on the Bill today.
In the last session, the National Assembly had adopted the Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Bill for Bhutan 2021 on June 7, 2021, with an amendment of 50 provisions.
The Good Governance Committee of the National Council proposed a total of 61 amendments to the House with some additional provisions by the Committee.
The Hon’ble Members sought clarifications from the Committee on Sections 8(1), (2) and 28 (1) which is related to the independence and power to regulate, appoint, manage and dismiss the staff of the Commission; New Section 41(1) (f) proposed by the Committee relating to outsourcing most of its research and advocacy programs; Section 42 (3) about active bribery of public servant; Section 128 (a),(b), and (c) prosecution referral and on the definition of public servants.
While the House approved most of the sections proposed by the Committee, the House reverted the aforementioned provisions to the Committee for further review.
Tomorrow, the House will deliberate on the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) Amendment which will be introduced by the Minister for Foreign Affairs His Excellency Dr. Tandi Dorji, followed by an interim review report on Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislations by the Legislative Committee.

Opening Ceremony of the 28th Session of the National Council

The 28th Session of the National Council started off with Zhudrel Phuntshok Tshogpai Tendrel followed by the opening address by His Excellency Tashi Dorji, Chairperson of the National Council.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐂𝐼𝐬𝐭𝐹𝐩𝐬 𝐃𝐼𝐭đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐜𝐹𝐧𝐭𝐱𝐧𝐼𝐞𝐬

The House resumed with the deliberation on the Customs Duty Bill today. The House endorsed most of the Customs Duty (CD) rates proposed by the government in the Schedule of the Bill. However, the Economic Affairs Committee proposed retention of original CD rates of some commodities such as betel nuts, fruit juices, water, incense and others, and were well-received by the House.
The House extensively debated on the CD rate of fertilizers. Some Members were for, while others were against the government’s proposal of zero per cent from the current 20%. Some Members also suggested the retention of the original CD rate for wood-based furniture of 50% from the government’s proposal of 10%.

Deliberation on GST (Amendment) Bill 2021 and CD Bill 2021

The National Council deliberated the Goods and Services Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021 and the Customs Duty Bill of Bhutan 2021 today.

QA with MoEA & MoE

  1. 𝐐𝐼𝐞𝐬𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧 đ‡đšđźđ« 𝐒𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐰𝐱𝐭𝐡 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐇𝐹𝐧’đ›đ„đž đŒđąđ§đąđŹđ­đžđ« 𝐹𝐟 𝐄𝐜𝐹𝐧𝐹𝐩𝐱𝐜 đ€đŸđŸđšđąđ«đŹ 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐇𝐹𝐧’đ›đ„đž đŒđąđ§đąđŹđ­đžđ« 𝐹𝐟 𝐄𝐝𝐼𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧
  2. 𝐑𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐟𝐱𝐜𝐚𝐭𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ€đ đ«đžđžđŠđžđ§đ­ 𝐛𝐞𝐭𝐰𝐞𝐞𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ†đšđŻđžđ«đ§đŠđžđ§đ­ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐊𝐱𝐧𝐠𝐝𝐹𝐩 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ†đ«đžđžđ§ đ‚đ„đąđŠđšđ­đž 𝐅𝐼𝐧𝐝 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đđ«đąđŻđąđ„đžđ đžđŹ 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐈𝐩𝐩𝐼𝐧𝐱𝐭𝐱𝐞𝐬 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ†đ«đžđžđ§ đ‚đ„đąđŠđšđ­đž 𝐅𝐼𝐧𝐝
  3. đˆđ§đ­đ«đšđđźđœđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐆𝐹𝐹𝐝𝐬 𝐚𝐧𝐝 đ’đžđ«đŻđąđœđžđŹ đ“đšđ± (𝐀𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐭) đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐂𝐼𝐬𝐭𝐹𝐩𝐬 𝐃𝐼𝐭đČ đđąđ„đ„ 𝐹𝐟 𝐁𝐡𝐼𝐭𝐚𝐧 𝟐𝟎𝟐𝟏

đˆđ§đ­đžđ«đąđŠ 𝐑𝐞𝐯𝐱𝐞𝐰 đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐒𝐭𝐚𝐭𝐞-𝐎𝐰𝐧𝐞𝐝 đ„đ§đ­đžđ«đ©đ«đąđŹđžđŹ

The Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC) of the National Council presented an interim Review Report on the State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) under the Ministry of Finance (MoF) to the House, today. The Committee reported that there are 38 SOEs in the country playing a strategic role towards socio-economic development. It stated that there are 16 SOEs under the MoF (2 are under Queen’s Project), and 22 under Druk Holding and Investments (DHI). The review was undertaken to understand the profile, sustainability, impacts and challenges of SOEs for effective and efficient service delivery.


Enactment of the Civil Liability (Torts) Bill

In the 6th Sitting of the Session, the Legislative Committee presented a report on the numerous incidents of negligent deaths and grave injuries to victims and loss and damage of public property over the years. Highlighting a total of 16 unfortunate occurrences, the Committee proposed an enactment of the Torts/Civil Liability Bill to address the ongoing predicament faced by victims of civil wrongs. In addition to instituting and enhancing corrective and restorative justice for the victims in the country, this proposed legislation will bring about accountability in the system and imbibe a sense of responsibility amongst relevant/responsible individuals, officials, agencies, business entities, and well as citizens. During the deliberations, the House expressed diverse views in lieu of enactment of the new bill due to pre-existing laws which contain the provisions and concerns of the Civil Liability (Tort) Bill.

Civil Society Organization (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021

National Council deliberated on the Civil Society Organization (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021 in the 4th Sitting of the Session.


NC Deliberates on Green Climate Fund Agreement (P&I)

His Excellency Lyonpo Namgay Tshering, Minister of Finance, introduced the Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Bhutan and the Green Climate Fund (GCF) on the Privileges and Immunities of the Green Climate Fund to the National Council today.

Following the introduction, the Natural Resources and Environment Committee presented a Review Report of the Agreement. The committee reported that there is no severe implication on national interest by ratifying the Agreement. Instead, it would supplement and benefit the existing plans and further enhance Bhutan’s coordination with GCF to fulfil the Agreement’s purpose.

The House, then, deliberated on each of the 14 Articles of the Agreement and the committee’s recommendations.

Green Climate Fund is an opportunity for Bhutan to avail sustained grant for the execution of developmental projects. The GCF has approved 7 projects worth USD 56.86 million for Bhutan, and additional 6 projects amounting to USD 95.00 million are in the pipeline.

Further, the government has accredited the Bank of Bhutan, Bhutan Development Bank Limited and Bhutan National Bank to access GCF private sector loan facilities for private sector investment and development.

 

 


đ…đšđ„đ„đšđ°-đźđ© 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 đ«đžđŹđšđ„đźđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐟 𝟐𝟔𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧

The Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the House presented the follow-up report on the resolutions passed by the House on the RNR Marketing Policy in the 26th Session. The review was carried out to resolve marketing issues and comprehensively understand the RNR Marketing Policy, implementation status, and effectiveness. The House had submitted five recommendations – four to the Ministry of Agriculture and Forests and one to the Ministry of Finance.
The recommendations were:
1. Making the Multi-Sectoral Committee functional;
2. Establishing adequate marketing infrastructure;
3. Enhancing collaboration amongst the relevant stakeholders and implementing the findings of market studies;
4. Disseminating market information effectively; and
5. Expediting CSI loan approval.
However, some members expressed dissatisfaction with the responses received, particularly on three recommendations (1, 3 and 5). Hence the House directed the Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC) to re-deliberate with the concerned members and resolved accordingly.

His Majesty The King graced the Opening Ceremony of the 27th Session of the National Council today

Hon’ble Chairperson of the National Council, on behalf of the Members and the Secretariat, welcomed His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and Members of the Royal Family to the opening ceremony of the 27th Session in the new Hall. He also welcomed the Prime Minister, foreign dignitaries and senior government officials and media personnel for the opening.
The Chairperson, as a representative for all Bhutanese, offered the deepest gratitude to His Majesty for His tireless efforts towards ensuring the utmost protection of the people against the Covid-19 pandemic leaving behind other important Royal engagements. His Majesty has travelled frequently to high-risk areas to inspect various plans and activities put in place to ensure no Bhutanese life is affected by the pandemic. He also thanked His Majesty for the provision of monetary relief and support to the people and businesses affected by the pandemic.
The Chairperson said that during the Session, the House will deliberate on six legislative issues and four policy-related issues, as well as three issues, will be deliberated in the Joint-Sitting of the Parliament.
Hon’ble Chairperson, also thanked His Majesty The Fourth King for His unwavering dedication towards peace, security and prosperity of the country; and His Holiness the Je Khenpo for continued prayers and blessings. He also thanked all those involved in the fight against the pandemic.

Closing Ceremony of the fourth Session of the Third Parliamen

His Majesty The King graced the Closing Ceremony of the fourth Session of the Third Parliament. The fourth session commenced on 26th November.


State of the Nation report to the Parliament

The Prime Minister presented the State of the Nation report to the Parliament.
As in the previous year, this State of the Nation Report is presented in three sections covering the past, present and the future.

𝟐𝟔𝐭𝐡 𝐒𝐞𝐬𝐬𝐱𝐹𝐧 𝐍𝐂 đ‚đšđ§đœđ„đźđđžđŹ

Today, the final sitting of the 26th Session of National Council (NC) concluded with the re-deliberation on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020 followed by the closing address by the Hon’ble Chairperson.
As directed by the House, the Social & Cultural Affairs Committee reviewed the amended sections received from the National Assembly (NA) on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020. The Committee reported that of the twenty-three (23) sections reviewed, the Committee agreed to approve seventeen (17) sections and could not come into consensus in six (6) sections of the bill.
The bill was adopted during the 30th sitting of the 24th session of the NC and forwarded to the NA. The bill was adopted by NA with amendments on 9th December 2020 in the ongoing session (4th session).
When the Committee presented the new section as proposed by the NA on the “Office of the Prime Minister”, some of the Members expressed their strong reservations in approving the sections, therefore, the house with the show of hands voted the new chapter as a disputed section.
The House unanimously voted on the seven (7) disputed sections of the Bill to be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for the command to the Houses for deliberation and to vote in a joint sitting.
The Chairperson in his concluding remarks reported on the various legislations, policy issues, conventions and agreements ratified during the sittings of the 26th Session.
The Chairperson expressed his appreciation to all the Members for attending the Session and contributing significantly during the deliberations for the benefit of the country. Similarly, he thanked the Committee and the Members for their dedication and hard work in conducting meetings and carrying out research on the important issues to present the report to the House for deliberation.
As per the directives of the House, the Social & Cultural Affairs Committee reviewed the amended sections received from the National Assembly (NA) on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020. The Committee reported that of the twenty-three (23) sections reviewed, the Committee agreed to approve seventeen (17) sections and could not come into consensus in six (6) sections of the bill.
He also acknowledged the success of the session to the Department of National Properties for all logistical arrangements and support; the Royal Bhutan Police for providing security services; Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority for inspecting and ensuring good quality food; Ministry of Health for providing health services; Bhutan Broadcasting Service Corporation for the live telecast of the entire proceedings of the session; other media houses for disseminating news and information related to the session; and all the secretariat staff for their efforts and hard works during the session.
Humbly offering his prayers and wishes for the peace, happiness and long life of His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty The 4th Druk Gyalpo, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen, and the Royal family, the Chairperson also submitted his gratitude to His Holiness the Je Khenpo and Zhung Dratshang for their continued prayers and blessings.
The closing of the National Council concluded with an offering of Zhabten and Tashi Moenlam.

Public Accounts Committee presents the Committee’s Review Report on Royal Audit Authority’s Annual Report 2019 and Audit Review Reports from 2010-2018

The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented the Committee’s Review Report on Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) Annual Report 2019 and Audit Review Reports from 2010-2018 to the Joint Sitting of the Parliament today.

The Report was presented in four parts:

  1. Annual Audit Report 2019 of the Royal Audit Authority;
  2. Follow up Review Reports of AAR 2010-2018;
  3. Compliance Audit Reports; and
  4. Other Reports.

The Chairperson submitted eleven recommendations of the Committee on the Royal Audit Authority’s Annual Report 2019 and Audit Review Reports from 2010-2018.

The Report on Annual Audit Report 2019 covered the irregularities by agency, irregularities by categories, summary of joint audits of hydropower projects, committee’s finding and its recommendations. The Follow-up Review Reports of AAR 2010-2018 reported on the overview of unresolved/resolved irregularities as of 30th September 2020 which included unresolved irregularities pertaining to Hydro-power projects for AAR 2018. The Compliance Audit Report covered reports on northern east-west highway construction, surface collection and dredging of riverbed materials (RBM) and government property management systems. The Other Reports included the Auditor General’s advisory series on Bhutan schedules of rates and its application by the government agencies and the committee’s recommendation on it.

The House after extensive deliberation adopted all the eleven recommendations with all 65 members present and voting, voting YES.


Joint Sitting of the Parliament adopts the CCPC (Amend) and PCB (Amend) Bill of Bhutan 2019

Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019

The Chairperson of Joint Committee on Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (CCPC) presented the seven disputed clauses of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 along with a brief report of the Joint Committee.

While deliberating on the recommendations made by the Joint Committee on the Bill, the House endorsed the recommendations on the six disputed clauses except for Section 205: Motion for new Trials. The Committee had recommended that the clause be repealed but after considering the concerns raised by several Members, the House with a majority show of hands decided to retain the original clause.

The Joint Sitting adopted the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 with 65 Yes and 6 Abstain out of 71 Members present and voting.

 

Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019

The Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Penal Code of Bhutan presented to the Joint Sitting the committee’s review on the 24 disputed clauses of the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 which included the 8 additional new clauses.

After a thorough and prolonged discussion on all the recommendations of the Joint Committee, the Joint Sitting adopted the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 with 63 Yes and 6 abstaining out of the 69 members present and voting


𝗡𝗖 đ—źđ—±đ—Œđ—œđ˜đ˜€ đ˜đ—”đ—Č 𝗙𝗿𝗼đ—șđ—Čđ˜„đ—Œđ—żđ—ž 𝗔𝗮𝗿đ—Čđ—Čđ—șđ—Čđ—»đ˜ 𝗯đ—Č𝘁𝘄đ—Čđ—Čđ—» đ˜đ—”đ—Č đ—„đ—Œđ˜†đ—źđ—č đ—šđ—Œđ˜ƒđ—Čđ—żđ—»đ—șđ—Čđ—»đ˜ đ—Œđ—ł đ—•đ—”đ˜‚đ˜đ—źđ—» đ—źđ—»đ—± đ—˜đ˜‚đ—żđ—Œđ—œđ—Čđ—źđ—» đ—œđ—»đ˜ƒđ—Č𝘀𝘁đ—șđ—Čđ—»đ˜ đ—•đ—źđ—»đ—ž; đ—źđ—»đ—± đ˜đ—”đ—Č đ—”đ—»đ—»đ˜‚đ—źđ—č đ—”đ—»đ˜đ—¶-đ—–đ—Œđ—żđ—żđ˜‚đ—œđ˜đ—¶đ—Œđ—» đ—–đ—Œđ—șđ—șđ—¶đ˜€đ˜€đ—¶đ—Œđ—» đ—„đ—Čđ—œđ—Œđ—żđ˜ đŸźđŸŹđŸ­đŸ”

The Foreign Affairs Committee presented the Framework Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and European Investment Bank to the House for deliberation. The Committee presented a total of 17 sections for deliberation and the House adopted all the recommendations of the Committee. The recommendations were mainly minor changes in the Dzongkha text of the agreement.
The House, with 18 ‘Yes’ and 5 ‘Abstain’ votes, from the total of 23 Members present and voting, adopted the Framework Agreement. The Agreement will be submitted to His Majesty The King for Royal Assent.
Similarly, the House unanimously adopted all the recommendations as proposed by the Good Governance Committee on the Annual Anti-Corruption Commission Report 2019. The following are the adopted recommendations for the ACC:
i. Set clear criteria for selection of gewogs/agencies to conduct advocacy sessions based on their immediate need;
ii. Conduct periodic impact assessment of the advocacy programmes on the behavioural changes of the target group;
iii. Upscale the awareness programme on electoral corruptions ahead of the third Local Government elections
iv. Establish an effective follow-up system on the Action Taken Report;
v. Accord equal emphasis on proactive measures by identifying agencies/individuals with a high risk of corruption and making timely interventions;
vi. Reconcile any contradictory findings of two or more reports published by the ACC (for example, National Integrity Assessment 2019 indicates outstanding rating for Local Government while the corruption complaints received against LGs as per the annual reports reflect the highest);
vii. Liaise with the Royal Civil Service Commission to establish a separate security unit within the Commission; and
viii. Enhance the coordination between the Anti Corruption Commission and Office of the Attorney General to solve corruption cases in an amicable manner.
The recommendations will be forwarded to the ACC for due follow-up and implementation.

đƒđžđ„đąđ›đžđ«đšđ­đąđšđ§ 𝐹𝐧 𝐭𝐡𝐞 𝐀𝐂𝐂 đ€đ§đ§đźđšđ„ đ‘đžđ©đšđ«đ­ 𝟐𝟎𝟏𝟗

The Good Governance Committee also presented a review report on the Annual Anti-Corruption Commission Report 2019. The report consisted of the Commission’s policy priorities; performance of the ACC; Bhutan’s ranking on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI); follow-up on National Council’s recommendation; and issues for deliberation.
The Committee reported that the ACC received a total of 396 complaints during the reporting year of 2019. Abuse of function was alleged to be the major corruption offence constituting 174 complaints (43.9 %) followed by allegations of embezzlement with 16 complaints (4.04%). The highest number of complaints was against the Local Government followed by Ministries. Out of 396 complaints, 25 qualified for investigation, 48 for information enrichment, 113 for administrative action and 77 for sensitization and 133 were dropped.
The Committee reported that Bhutan has maintained its 25th rank on Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI) with a score of 68. Likewise, Bhutan has maintained its 6th position in the Asia- Pacific region and stands as the cleanest country in the SAARC region.
The Committee recommended the ACC to set clear criteria for selecting which gewogs to be covered for advocacy sessions based on their immediate need; conduct a periodic impact assessment of the advocacy programmes on the behavioural changes of the target group; establish an effective follow-up system on the Action Taken Reports; reconcile any contradictory information between National Integrity Assessment 2019 score and the total number of complaints received against Local Government, and the RCSC to facilitate the creation of a separate security unit within the Commission.
Following the presentation, Hon’ble Members shared their views and suggested additional recommendations.

đ—œđ—»đ˜đ—żđ—Œđ—±đ˜‚đ—°đ˜đ—¶đ—Œđ—» đ—Œđ—ł đ˜đ—”đ—Č 𝗙𝗿𝗼đ—șđ—Čđ˜„đ—Œđ—żđ—ž 𝗔𝗮𝗿đ—Čđ—Čđ—șđ—Čđ—»đ˜ 𝗯đ—Č𝘁𝘄đ—Čđ—Čđ—» đ˜đ—”đ—Č đ—„đ—Œđ˜†đ—źđ—č đ—šđ—Œđ˜ƒđ—Čđ—żđ—»đ—șđ—Čđ—»đ˜ đ—Œđ—ł đ—•đ—”đ˜‚đ˜đ—źđ—» đ—źđ—»đ—± đ—˜đ˜‚đ—żđ—Œđ—œđ—Čđ—źđ—» đ—œđ—»đ˜ƒđ—Č𝘀𝘁đ—șđ—Čđ—»đ˜ đ—•đ—źđ—»đ—ž

Hon’ble Minister for Finance introduced the Framework Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and European Investment Bank (EIB) Governing Activities in Bhutan to the House as an urgent Bill. He said that by signing the framework, Bhutan can have access to new concessional financing opportunities to meet the increasing development financing needs and also have more financing options after the graduation from the group of Least Developed Countries.
He said that the National Council had objected to the Framework in 2015 justifying that the framework was not inconsistent with the country’s external commercial borrowing guidelines and might undermine Bhutan’s sovereignty. He reported that the Government has worked tirelessly for the past one year with the Secretariat of the European Investment Bank on the objections of the National Council and, consequently, they have agreed and considered all the objections.
According to the National Interest Analysis report, Bhutan will have the advantages of access to financing sources; long maturity period; low fixed/floating interest rate; and increase of convertible currency reserve. However, Bhutan might face the challenges of exchange rate risk and interest rate risk.

Adoption of Mines and Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020

During the 7th sitting held today, the House adopted the Mines and Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020; the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020; the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking; the Charter (Amendment) of the SAARC Development Fund; and the Report on RNR Marketing Policy and Strategies.
The passing and adoption of the Bill were carried out as per the rules of procedure of the National Council. The respective Committee Chairpersons presented the final review report on the Bills and the recommendations on the review report on RNR Marketing Policy and Strategies.
Presenting the Mines and Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020 for adoption, the Chairperson of the Legislative Committee reported that out of the 150 sections submitted for deliberation, 48 sections were reassigned to the Committee for review, four (4) sections were withdrawn and five(5) new sections were added during the internal meetings conducted by the Committee. With the show of hands, the House adopted all the amendments made by the Committee and unanimously adopted the Bill with 22 members present and voting. The Bill will be forwarded to the National Assembly for re-deliberation.
The Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill of Kingdom of Bhutan 2020 was deliberated in the 4th sitting on 2nd December 2020 where all the sections were approved. The Natural Resources and Environment Committee was then tasked by the house to prepare the Bill for final adoption. Accordingly, the Bill was adopted unanimously with 21 members present and voting. The Bill will be forwarded to the National Assembly for re-deliberation.
The Social & Cultural Affairs Committee presented the review report of the BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking during the 4th sitting on 2nd December 2020. The House deliberated and approved all 12 sections of the Bill and reassigned the Committee to prepare the Bill for the final adoption. The House today unanimously adopted the convention with 22 members present and voting. The convention shall be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for Assent.
The Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee presented the Charter (Amendment) of the SAARC Development Fund for adoption, the House unanimously adopted the Charter with 22 members present and voting. The Charter shall be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for Assent.
Finally, the House adopted Five (5) recommendations submitted by the Natural Resources and Environment Committee on RNR Marketing Policy and Strategies. The recommendations will be forwarded to the Government for necessary follow-up.

NC adopts Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill 2020 with recommendations

In the 6th sitting, the Chairperson of the Economic Affairs reiterated that the Fiscal Incentives is tabled as an amendment to the Fiscal Incentives Act 2017 for the purpose of harmonizing the Bill with the Goods and Services Tax Act 2020 and the 21st Century Economic Roadmap. He said that the Bill is timely and will help private businesses significantly in this time of the pandemic. He reported that the National Assembly proposed the deferment of the fiscal incentives till 30th June 2022.
During the deliberation, most of the Members raised issues regarding the commencement and expiry dates of the Bill. Discussions included whether the commencement date needs to be specified in the Bill or if there is a need for the expiry to be in line with the tax year. Accordingly, the Committee proposed the recommendation to commence the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill 2020 as per the Public Finance (Amendment) Act 2012; and to retain the government’s proposed expiry of the fiscal incentives on 31st December 2021. With a show of hands, the House adopted the committee’s recommendations.
The House endorsed the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill 2020 with 23 ‘Yes’ votes and one ‘Abstain’ vote from the total of 24 members present and voting. The Bill along with the recommendations will be forwarded to the National Assembly for deliberation.
The House then continued deliberating on the rest of the sections of the Mines and Minerals Bill 2020. Besides accepting most of the provisions as per the proposal of the Legislative Committee, the members suggested their views and opinions pertaining to the composition of the board; appointment of members; powers and functions of the board; community engagement and development; establishment of mine reclamation fund; power to search; and violations & fines.

Finance Minister proposes to extend the fiscal incentive

In the 5th sitting, the Hon’ble Minister of Finance, Namgay Tshering introduced the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 and the Charter (Amendment) of the SAARC Development Fund to the august House. Following which, the House continued with the deliberation on the Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan 2020.
Introducing the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 to the National Council, the Hon’ble Minister that the Government propose to extend the Fiscal Incentive (FI) Act 2017.
Reporting that FI Act 2017 became effective on 8th May 2017 and expires on 31st December 2020, he said that if the act is not extended, the sustainability of the business entities will be adversely impacted aggravating the performances of the sector which have been already severely impacted by the pandemic.
He further explained the reasons on extending the FI instead of proposing a new FI Bill, which he said was basically due to the impact on the economy by the current unprecedented situation of the pandemic, it is best perceived in extending the FI 2020 as it will provide the much-needed respite for the affected sector until the economic situation improves.
Briefly outlining the background, the Minister said that the Government is proposing to amend Article 5(ii) of the SDF Charter. He said the SDF was extensively deliberated and ratified in the Third Session of the third parliament by the National Assembly with only one amendment. Council for adoption. the modernization of the taxation system. And finally, to harmonize the new FI package with the 21st Century Economic Roadmap of Bhutan which the ministry is currently being drafted, the final draft will be presented to the Government by the end of this month.
Further, he said the new FI package will be the main fiscal tool for a resilient economic recovery. Moreover, in order to harmonize the fiscal incentives with the GST Act, which was passed in the third session of their parliament scheduled for implementation from July 2021 will usher in major reforms in modernization of the taxation system. And finally, to harmonize the new FI package with the 21st Century Economic Roadmap of Bhutan which the ministry is currently being drafted, the final draft will be presented to the Government by the end of this month.
He also reported on the impact assessment carried out on Fiscal Incentives of Bhutan 2008-2018 by the Gedu College of Business Studies which will support and provide recommendations for the new FI package. The extension of the current FI package provides adequate time to ensure holistic stakeholder consultations and analysis on the overall proposed FI package.
The Fiscal Incentive (Amendment ) Bill of Bhutan 2020 was deliberated in the National Assembly on 1st December 2020 of the ongoing session (4th session of the NA). The House made the amendments and adopted the Bill on 2nd December 2020 and forwarded the Money Bill to the National Council for adoption.
After the introduction of the Bill, Hon’ble Minister responded to the questions regarding the status of those benefitted by the fiscal incentives; challenges the private sector would face during the pandemic despite the provision of fiscal incentives; import and distribution of improved vegetable seeds by private businesses; among others.
The House assigned the Economic Affairs Committee to review and prepare the Bill for deliberation in tomorrow’s sitting.
The Hon’ble Finance Minister Namgay Tshering also introduced the Charter (Amendment) of the SAARC Development Fund (SDF) to the House.
Briefly outlining the background, the Minister said that the Government is proposing to amend Article 5(ii) of the SDF Charter. He said the SDF was extensively deliberated and ratified in the Third Session of the third parliament by the National Assembly with only one amendment.
He informed that Bhutan is the only member country that has not amended the Charter from the eight-member countries. And the amendment is expected to ease project collaboration among the member states through SDF.
He said that the proposed amendment is for the utilization of resources and facilities for funding projects involving one or more member states from the existing provision that requires more than two member states. He justified that it is difficult to find projects fulfilling the interests of more than two member states.
This was then followed by the Chair of the Economic Affairs Committee presenting the committee’s review on the SDF Charter to the House. He briefly highlighted the background of the Charter and the proposed amendment; the rationale for the amendment; the advantages of the amendment and the financial cost of the taxation system. And finally, to harmonize the new FI package with the 21st Century Economic Roadmap of Bhutan which the ministry is currently being drafted, the final draft will be presented to the Government by the end of this month.

National Council deliberates on two Bills

In the 4th sitting, the House introduced and deliberated on the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020 and BIMSTEC Convention on Cooperation in International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crime and Illicit Drug Trafficking in the morning session.
Introducing the Negotiable Instruments (Amendment) Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020, the Chairperson of the Natural Resources & Environment Committee, Hon’ble Karma Gyeltshen reported the Bill was passed in the Third Session of the Third Parliament on 03 February 2020 and forwarded to the National Council. The House, in its 18th plenary session, tasked the NREC to review the Bill in preparation for this session. He further reported on various consultative meetings conducted with the relevant stakeholders and the Good Governance Committee of the National Assembly. Since the objective of amending the Bill was to harmonize and align the existing act with the Constitution and consolidations of several laws, he said that the Committee had also referred to relevant laws as well.
In total, 11 sections were amended and presented by the Committee; this includes the insertion of three new sections and two amendments from the National Assembly.
The House approved all the amendments as per the Committee’s proposal. The House directed the Committee to prepare the Bill for adoption.
Introducing the BIMSTEC Convention on Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crimes and Illicit Drug Trafficking, the Hon’ble Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs, Sherub Gyeltshen informed that the Convention was signed by seven member states during the twelfth BIMSTEC Ministerial held on 11th December 2009. It consists of seven member states which include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. All the member parties have ratified the convention except for Bhutan. Nepal ratified the convention in December 2019. Bhutan has also tabled the convention for ratification earlier this year.
He briefly outlined the aims and objectives of the convention to firstly, strengthen the relationship between the state parties and their endeavour to contribute to further the relations and development; secondly, to facilitate and strengthen collaboration and sharing of information among member states in the area of terrorism, transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking. Thirdly, cooperate as state parties under the United Nations and relevant international conventions and in accordance with their domestic laws and regulation.
This would enable member countries to establish a framework to enhance cooperation to combat terrorism, transnational organized crime and illicit drug trafficking, including their law enforcement agencies.
The Hon’ble Minister presented all the 15th articles in the convention, which was then followed by a question and answer session. The members also clarified on numerous issues related to the Bill such as the reasons why it took 10 years to ratify the convention, the need for amendment of national legislation for implementing the convention, advantages and disadvantages of the convention and reservations on ratifying the convention; availability of professionals and resources; and the government’s plan to amend the Extradition Act 1991 amongst others.
Chairperson of the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee (SCAC) briefly highlighted the review reported prepared by the Committee, and he said that the convention was deliberated and endorsed by the National Assembly with minor changes in Dzongkha text on 5th February 2020 during the third session of the Parliament. The convention was forwarded to the National Council of Bhutan on 14th February 2020 for deliberation as per Article 13 section 5 of the Constitution of Bhutan. The National Council during the 18th plenary assigned the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee to review the BIMSTEC Convention and submit its findings in the 26th Session.
The Committee, in conclusion, stated that the convention would benefit the country upon its ratification.
Introducing the BIMSTEC Convention on Combating International Terrorism, Transnational Organized Crimes and Illicit Drug Trafficking, the Hon’ble Minister for Home and Cultural Affairs, Sherub Gyeltshen informed that the Convention was signed by seven member states during the twelfth BIMSTEC Ministerial held on 11th December 2009. It consists of seven member states which include Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Myanmar and Thailand. All the member parties have ratified the convention except for Bhutan. Nepal ratified the convention in December 2019. Bhutan has also tabled the convention for ratification earlier this year.

NC Deliberates on Mines and Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020

The third sitting resumed with the deliberation on the Mines and Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020.
Of the 150 sections, the House today deliberated till section 27 as per the recommendations of the Legislative Committee (LC). While the House accepted 11 sections as per the proposal of the Committee, 16 sections were reassigned to the Committee for review.
The NC arrived at the decision to allocate mines to SOE based on the following reasons:
  1. In respecting the various provisions of the Constitution (1.10 1.12; 5.01; 5.04; 9.07; 9.10) which is the supreme law of the land;
  2. In adherence to the consistent position of the National Council through various debates, discussions, resolutions of the NC on the issue of Mines and Minerals passed since 2008;
  3. In recognition of the audit report of the Royal Audit Authority and the report of the Anti- Corruption Commission;
  4. In line with the recommendation of the National Law Review Task Force 2018 which stated that “ The Minerals and Mines Act 1995 ….must be amended …vests ownership of mineral resources in the State… In particular, those provisions in the MMMA and rules which give mining rights to private mining companies must be amended so that there are no infractions of the constitutional provisions.”

Introducing of Mines and Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020

Today in the 2nd sitting of the session, the Hon’ble Minister for the Economic Affairs introduced the Mines and & Minerals Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020 followed by a question and answer session. Subsequently, the Legislative Committee presented a review report on the Bill.
Introducing the Bill, the Hon’ble Minister Loknath Sharma said that the National Council had in the past sessions also discussed and raised the issue of mines and minerals numerous times, so he looks forward to the deliberations and recommendations from the House on this Bill.
Besides the NC, other concerned authorities have also conducted various reviews and studies on this issue.
The Bill proposed to repeal the Mines and Minerals Act of Bhutan 1995. He stated that the new Bill is tabled to meet the needs of the changing times and development of the country to make it consistent with the Constitution and other relevant laws. He added that, though the discussion for the need of such a Bill surfaced since 2010, it could not be tabled in the Parliament until now. He said that the Bill consisted of 15 chapters with 191 sections aimed towards the sustainable mining of Bhutan’s natural resources and environment.
Following the introduction, Hon’ble Lyonpo responded to the queries of the Hon’ble Members pertaining to the issue of aligning the MMMA Bill to the Constitution; Local Government clearances; preparedness of the relevant agencies once the Act is enacted; surface collection; ideological approach to the bill amongst others.
Chairperson of the Legislative Committee presented the Mines and Minerals Bill to the House. He briefly gave the background of the Bill and the work the committee has done so far into bringing this bill to the House. He also listed the relevant stakeholders consulted and field visits made for better understanding of the implementation and ground realities of the existing Act.
He briefed the House that the Committee proposed significant amendments, repeal and new insertions according to the committee’s findings and wisdom. He stated the committee has come down to 151 sections from the original 191 sections.

Opening Ceremony of the National Council of Bhutan

The opening of the 26th Session of the National Council began with a Marchang Ceremony, followed by an opening remark by the Hon’ble Chairperson.
Apart from the follow-up reports on the Resolution of the 24th session, the House also deliberated on the Review Report on RNR Marketing Policy presented by the Natural Resources and Environment Committee.
Cordially welcoming the members, media and viewers of the National Council Session, the Hon’ble Chairperson informed that the Session is scheduled from 27th November to 14th December 2020. He also informed the House that the current Session will deliberate on four legislative issues, two amendments of Acts, one policy review, two disputed bills in the joint sitting and three annual reports including the State of the Nation report.
The Economic Affairs Committee reported to the House, the responses received from relevant agencies regarding the policies related to vehicle imports. The responses pertained to the resolutions of improving coordination of transport sector; addressing issues arising from vehicular congestion in the urban areas and improving public transport in the growing towns and across the country.
The Social and Culture Affairs Committee highlighted the responses received regarding the review of legislation and strategies for addressing human trafficking. The responses were with regard to the resolutions of developing legislation and policies, and strengthening efforts towards human trafficking; conducting sensitization and awareness programmes; creating trafficking in persons emergency helpline and employment.
The Good Governance Committee reported to the House the responses received on the review of the programme initiative towards improving the quality of education. The responses were regarding the resolutions of expediting the expansion and coverage of ECCD programmes; ensuring adequate financial support to primary schools; revisiting the current practice of school ranking system; ensuring adequate provision of facilities and tools for effective implementation of any new or revised curriculum, and reviewing the roles of Royal Education Council (REC) Teacher Professional Support Division (TPSD).
While the respective committees expressed their satisfaction for the responses and actions taken on the resolutions, some Members reported that there are some recommendations that require further inquiries. The House directed the Committees to work on and seek further clarification from the concerned authorities with written questions.
The Natural Resources and Environment Committee presented the Review Report on RNR Marketing Policy to the House. The RNR Marketing Policy of Bhutan was adopted in 2018 to facilitate the transformation of current subsistence farming into commercial farming.
Though RNR marketing policy was in place and the implementation was ongoing, certain challenges impeded the operation and performance of RNR sector in terms of marketing of products.
The report consisted of four major areas for the implementation of the policy: institutional framework; market infrastructure; market support; and market information.
The following were the recommendations proposed by the Committee:
  • The Ministry has to make the Multi-Sectoral Committee (MSC) functional for the effective implementation of the RNR Marketing Policy so that the marketing system is put in place by coordinating and harmonizing the approaches of all involved stakeholders. MSC has to seriously work to address the pertinent issues like reducing the huge gap between the import and production of tomatoes and onions, increasing the yield and reducing the import quantity of apples and oranges, substituting the import of those fruits that are never exported, reducing the price difference between import and export price of apples, shelled betel nuts and ginger.
  • To improve the distribution of fresh and quality products within the country and export, there is a need to establish smaller capacity cold stores at strategic locations facilitated by refrigerated vans and establish other low-cost farm level stores as many as possible.
  • There is a need to establish mechanisms among the stakeholders for discussing the findings of market studies and adoption of technically feasible processed products especially enhancing stronger collaboration between National Post Harvest Centre and Department of Agriculture Marketing and Cooperatives. Also, the Government has to continuously support the existing financial schemes with sufficient budget and good public awareness. Further, CSI bank has to upload the disqualification of loan application criteria on the website and need to work for providing the technical recommendation letters from the respective department electronically.
  • To have better information, it is good to incorporate the estimated quantity of products required per market in the Agriculture Market Information System (AMIS) and also display it on TV screens in the Market. If possible, the estimated quantity, location of the products and cost of production needed to be incorporated in AMIS. Further public awareness on AMIS has to be carried out.
Focusing on the findings and recommendations of the Committee, the Hon’ble Members suggested additional recommendations for consideration and sought clarification on the report.
The Chairperson directed the Committee to review the recommendations taking into consideration the issues proposed by the members consulting the relevant members.

Opening Ceremony of the Fourth Session of the Third Parliament

His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo graced the opening ceremony of the Fourth Session of the third Parliament at the Gyalyong Tshogkhang this morning. Representatives from the monastic body, government officials and foreign dignitaries were also present for the occasion.
His Majesty was received at the courtyard of the Gyalyong Tshogkhang in traditional chipdrel by the Prime Minister, Chairperson of the National Council, Speaker of the National Assembly, Cabinet members and the Members of the Parliament.
It was then followed by a Zhudrel Phuensum Tshogpai ceremony administered by the Gyalpoi Zimpon.
The ceremony concluded with the Speaker of the National Assembly delivering the opening address.

25th Session Concludes

The 25th Session of the National Council concluded today. In the closing address, the Hon’ble Chairperson said that the House adopted two essential budget bills along with the recommendations and forwarded them to the National Assembly. He thanked the Hon’ble members for their participation in the deliberations. He also thanked them for their support and service to the government and the country through various means and capacity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Hon’ble Chairperson expressed appreciation to the Economic Affairs Committee for reviewing the bills and submitting points to the House for deliberation. He also thanked the Finance Minister for introducing the bills and responding to the questions of the members.

He thanked the Royal Bhutan Police, Bhutan Agriculture and Food Regulatory Authority, Bhutan Broadcasting Service and other media outlets, Department of National Properties and the Secretariat office for their support for the successful conduct of the Session.

The Hon’ble Chairperson offered prayers for the long life and prosperity of His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo, His Majesty The Fourth Druk Gyalpo, Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, His Royal Highness the Gyalsey, and the Members of the Royal Family. He also expressed gratitude to His Holiness the Je Khenpo, Lamas and Truelkus for their continued prayers for the peace and prosperity of the country.

The Session concluded with the offering of Zhapten and Tashi Moenlam.


NC Endorsed the Budget Appropriation Bills with Recommendations

The House unanimously adopted the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill 2019-20; Budget Appropriation Bill 2020-21; and the recommendations on the National Budget 2020-21. There were 21 members present and voting.

Recommendations on the National Budget 2020-21:

The House adopted a total of seven recommendations including the general recommendations.

The House recommended the government to:

Delete leave encashment from the Dzongkha text of the National Budget 2020-21 as it is not mentioned in the Budget Appropriation Bill 2020-21;

Establish cold chain to link farms to the market outlet including the provision of transportation of produce by refrigerated van;

Continue to allocate mines (new mines and those mines whose leases expired) to the SMCL until the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Management Act is completed;

Immediately commission an independent third party to study the current problems and issues at the Punatsangchu-I hydroelectric project and find feasible solutions;

Make endowment fund for crop and livestock conservation operational as soon as possible so that the affected people can be compensated.

Come up with realistic expenditure measures to reduce wastage and redundancy in public spending and achieve overall efficiency in the utilization of limited public resources; and

Draft all bills, including money and financial bills, in accordance with the provisions of the Legislative Drafting Manual 2016 hereafter.


Deliberation on budget continues

Continuing with the deliberation on budget, members acknowledged the government for its commitment and dedication, at different forefronts, towards minimizing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. They expressed appreciation to the government for its efforts in the health and education sectors, and the initiatives for ensuring economic security of those affected. It was also highlighted that considering the limited budget in hand, the government should make realistic spending and ensure timely and periodic monitoring of the disbursed budget.

After two days of deliberation on the budget, the House directed the Economic Affairs Committee (committee in-charge of the bills) and the concerned members to re-deliberate on relevant sections and prepare final recommendations for adoption.


NC deliberates on Budget

The House deliberated on the National Budget Report for the Financial Year 2020-21 which also included the Budget Appropriation for FY 2020-21 and the Supplementary Budget Appropriation for FY 2019-20.

Deliberating on the report, some members raised concerns over the government’s budget policies of deferring LTC and withholding transfer benefits for civil servants and made suggestions of exploring alternative measures if available. Some Members were content with these measures. Some Members suggested for the deferment of Waste and Stray Dog Management and Water Flagship Programs in order curb expenditure, while some supported these Programs as prioritized by the government.

While deliberating on the report, the House with the show of hands unanimously endorsed the Annual Financial Statements for FY 2018-19.

Members also highly commended the government recent decision to allocate the Dolomite mines to the State Mining Corporation Limited. This is in keeping with the provisions of the Constitution and also places the interest of the nation and people at the forefront.

Members also deliberated on financial burden and delay of Punatsangchu hydro projects, compensation for crop damage and loss of livestock, the importance of cold storage facilities amongst others.

 


Finance Minister introduces Budget Bills

The Finance Minister presented the National Budget Report for the FY 2020-21, and introduced the Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2020-21 and Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2019-20 to the House today. He informed the House that, with the theme of ‘Economic Resilience and Transformation’, the budget for the FY 2020-21 is aimed at intensifying and accelerating the implementation of programs and activities. The budget for FY 2020-21 is tabled in the midst of COVID-19 pandemic which has affected the global economic situation and Bhutan is no exception.

The Finance Minister reported that the Budget Appropriation for the FY 2020-21 is for a sum not exceeding Nu. 73.98 billion, of which Nu. 32.90 billion is for current expenditure and Nu. 36.25 billion for capital expenditure. He informed that the domestic revenue for FY 2020-21 is estimated to decline by 14% and the economic growth for 2020 is projected at – 1.1% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The total public debt as on 31st March 2020 stood at Nu. 192.96 billion. He also introduced the Supplementary Budget Appropriation for the FY 2019-20 for a sum not exceeding Nu. 1.03 billion.

The Hon’ble Minister said that the government has, upon the Royal Command, established National Resilience Fund of Nu. 30 billion to support Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Kidu and 50% of the three-month interest waiver on loan. He informed the House that about 15,000 people have benefitted from the Relief Kidu and about 1,45,000 borrowers from the interest waiver. He also shared information on the government’s Fiscal Measures, Economic Contingency Plan and Monetary Measures. He also informed the House that the government, at present, has incurred a total expenditure of Nu. 1.4 billion for COVID-19 response.

The Hon’ble Minister stated that in order to meet the cost of recurrent expenditure from internal resources, the government will implement budget policies such as rationalizing in-country and ex-country travels; deferring Leave Travel Concession (LTC) payments; not hiring private building for office space; postponing the activation of salary indexation; withholding the transfer benefits; deferring the option of monetizing Vehicle Quota; and providing the current budget as Block grants.

Following the introduction, there was a Q&A session regarding electricity subsidy, budget policies, block grants, Renewable Natural Resources and roads amongst others.


25th Session of the National Council begins

The 25th Session of the National Council commences as commanded by the Royal Kasho (Royal Decree) for the endorsement of the National Budget for the FY 2020-2021 and discussion on other subjects. The Opening Ceremony of the Session began with the offering of Marchang.

The Hon’ble Chairperson stated that the Session will be conducted from 9th to 16th of June with the closing of the Parliament scheduled on 17th June. He informed that the House will largely deliberate on and endorse the Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2020-21 and the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2019-20.

The Hon’ble Chairperson, on behalf of the all the Bhutanese and in particular the Hon’ble Members, expressed gratitude to His Majesty The King for His noble leadership and unwavering support and guidance for the country and the people amid the global COVID-19 pandemic. He also thanked His Holiness the Je Khenpo, Zhung Dratshang and other religious bodies for their continuous prayers and various religious conducts for the control of the pandemic. He also acknowledged the Prime Minister, Health Minister, health officials and those guarding the borders for their tireless efforts towards controlling COVID-19.

The ceremony concluded with prayers for the successful conduct and completion of the Session.


NC convenes plenary session for upcoming session

The plenary session commenced coinciding with the 30th birth anniversary of our beloved Queen, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen with the offering of butter lamps, long life prayers and cake cutting ceremony.

As per the Royal Kasho received by the House, the 25th session of the National Council would convene from 9-16 June 2020 to deliberate on the Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2020-21 and other issues.

The Economic Affairs Committee was assigned to review the Budget Bill, and the review report will be submitted in the session for deliberation in the House.


Brainstorming session on TVET Reforms

The team led by the new CEO Dasho Kinga Tshering presented follow up on the Councils Review Report on the TVET and held a brainstorming session on TVET Reforms on April 16, 2020. Continue Reading…


The 24th NC Session Concludes

The 24th Session of the House concluded today in the august hall of the National Council with a concluding speech by the Chairperson. Followed by a long-life prayer of His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck and Tashi-Monlam.


Adoption of Impeachment Procedure Bill 2019 and Minister’s Entitlements Bill 2020

Adoption of Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan 2019 and Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holder’s Entitlements Bill 2020.

In the 33rd sitting, with 22 members present and voting the House unanimously decided to withdraw the Impeachment Procedure Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2019 with the statements of reasons as proposed by the Natural Resources & Environment Committee.

The House also adopted the proposal of the Legislative Committee on the Ministers and Minister Equivalent Post Holders’ Entitlement Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2019 to seek the opinion of the Supreme Court on the constitutionality or legality of the decision of the house of Parliament not discussing a Bill that has originated in another house.


Continue deliberation on the Public Accounts Committee’s Report

Joint Sitting adopts five recommendations on the PAC review report.

With a two-day deliberation on the Public Accounts Committee’s Review Report on RAA’s Annual Report 2018 in the Joint Sitting, the House adopted five recommendations. Three recommendations were adopted as proposed by the Committee and two additional were proposed by the House. Of the 64 members present and voting the recommendations were adopted with 63 “YES” and 1 “ABSTAIN” vote.


PAC Presents its Review Report on RAA’s Annual Report 2018 to the Joint Sitting

The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Hon’ble Phuntsho Rapten, Eminent Member, National Council, presented its report to the Joint Sitting of the Third Session of the Third Parliament today.

The Report consists of three chapters which included the Synthesis of the Annual Audit Report 2018; Follow up on Review Reports of AAR 2010-2017; and Follow up of past resolutions relating to Financial Audits. The Committee also presented its observations, findings and recommendations.


Adoptions of Bills and Recommendations on the Reports

In the 30th sitting, the House adopted final resolutions as proposed by relevant committees on three policies related to issues such as the Vehicle imports; Human Trafficking in Bhutan; and the program initiatives towards improving the Quality of Education. The House also adopted two Bills that are the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of Bhutan (2020); and Entitlement and Service Conditions (Amendment) Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices of Bhutan (2020).


Continue deliberation on improving the Quality of Education

Today, the House deliberated on the recommendations submitted by the Good Governance Committee (GGC) on the Review of the Programme Initiatives towards improving the Quality of Education. In the 27th Sitting, the GGC Committee presented the review report to the House and submitted five issues for deliberation along with recommendations for consideration.


Continue deliberation on the Review of Human Trafficking in Bhutan

27th sitting of the House continued with the deliberation on the recommendations on the review report of legislation and Strategies for addressing Human Trafficking by Social and Cultural Affairs Committee (SCAC).

The members of the Good Governance Committee also presented the report on the review of Programme Initiatives towards improving the Quality of Education to the House.


NC adopts recommendations for the withdrawal of GST Bill

26th Sitting: Adoption of the recommendations of the Committee on the GST Bill for withdrawal and deliberation on the Review of Legislation and Strategies for Addressing Human Trafficking.

In the 26th sitting of the National Council, the House unanimously adopted the recommendations to withdraw the Goods and Services Tax Bill of Bhutan with 24 members present and voting.
Reporting on the changes made in the Bill as per the directive of the House yesterday, the Good Governance submitted two recommendations as follows for adoption.

1. The National Assembly to withdraw the adoption of the GST Bill 2020 until necessary systems are put in place including training of staff and creating public awareness; and
2. The Government to introduce the amendment of the Public Finance (Amendment) Act 2012 to draw a clear distinction between the Money Bill and the Financial Bill.

The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee also introduced the review of legislation and strategies for addressing human trafficking to the House.


Adoption of Supplementary Budget Bill and Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill 2020

The House adopted the Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 and the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill FY 2019-2020.

The House also deliberated on the Goods and Services Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020, which was passed by National Assembly and forwarded to National Council for deliberation. Good Governance Committee recommends for withdrawal of the Goods and Services Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020. This is in order to uphold Section 46B of the PFAA 2012 and provide the government adequate time to establish necessary facilities to implement the GST system, the Committee recommends that the National Assembly should withdraw the GST Bill for now.

Most of the members shared the same concerns as the Committee and supported its recommendation to withdraw the Bill. Additional recommendations were suggested by the members for the need to amendment the Public Finance (Amendment) Act 2012 in order to formalize the commencement dates of such Bills and also clearly segregate and define money and financial Bills.


Deliberation on the Pay Revision (Amendment) & Supplementary Budget Bill

The House deliberated on the Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 followed by deliberation on the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill Financial Year 2019- 2020.

The Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 was deliberated in the National Council today. The Social & Cultural Affairs Committee (SCAC) was assigned to review the Bill.

 


Presentation of the Goods and Services Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020

In the 23rd Sitting, the Hon’ble Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Tshering introduced the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill Financial Year 2019 – 2020, the Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020, and the Goods and Services Tax Bill 2020 to the House today.

  • Presentation of the Goods and Services Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020
  • Presentation of the Pay Revision (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020
  • Presentation of the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the Financial Year 2019-2020

Deliberation on the FI (Amendment) and Property Tax Bill 2020

  • Deliberation on the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020.
  • Deliberation on the Property Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020.
  • Adoption of the Impeachment Procedure of Bhutan 2019.
  • Adoption of the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holder’s Entitlement Bill 2019

House Adopts the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 and deliberates on the Property Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020

Recommendation on Impeachment Procedure of Bhutan 2019 and the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holder’s Entitlement Bill 2019.

The Legislative Committee (LC) and the Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC) proposed to consider the recommendation to discuss the issues related to the rejection of the two private members Bills between the Chairpersons of the National Council and the Speaker of the National Assembly before final adoption of the bills by the House. The recommendation was proposed to set a clear procedural between the two Houses of the Parliament in rejecting a Private Members Bill during the first reading by the National Assembly.


Introduction of the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill & Property Tax Bill 2020

Introduction of the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 and the Property Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020.

Hon’ble Finance Minister Namgay Tshering introduced the Property Tax Bill of Bhutan 2020 and the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 to the House today.

The Hon’ble Minister said that the Property Tax Bill covers the properties of land, house and motor vehicles. He informed the House that the property transfer tax for land and house will be reduced to 3 percent and motor vehicles to 1 percent.


Adoption of the CCPC (Amendment) Bill and PCB (Amendment) Bill 2019

Today, the House unanimously adopted the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 and the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019. The Bills shall be forwarded to the National Assembly with the recommendations of the House for re-deliberation.


Interim Review Report on the RNR Marketing Policy Review by NREC

The members of the NREC presented the interim review report on the RNR Marketing Policy to the House. The final report will be submitted in the 25th session along with the Committee’s observations and recommendations.

The NREC was assigned to review the buyback policy during the 14th plenary, the issue was given priority as one of the major concerns raised by the people were on the buyback policy during their constituency visit. In the process of reviewing the issues, the Committee then observed that there were issues related to marketing policy and its mechanism. Therefore the committee decided to review the whole RNR Marketing Policy to resolve the issues for a substantial outcome.

The House also adopted the Tourism Levy and Exemption Bill of Bhutan, 2020 with 17 “YES”, 2 “NO” and 2 “ABSTAIN” votes by the members. The Bill shall be forwarded to the National Assembly for re-deliberation along with the amendments and recommendations adopted by the House.


Adoption of the Tax (Amendment) Bill 2020 and Deliberation on the Tourism Levy & Exemption Bill 202

17th Sitting: The House adopted the Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020. Subsequently, the House deliberated on the Tourism Levy & Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2020. The National Assembly amended, passed and forwarded the Bill to National Council on 4 February 2020 and it was introduced in the House by the Finance Minister on 5 February 2020.

In deliberating the Bill, Hon’ble Members expressed their support on the amendment in Section 7; Chapter 2 which states that “A regional leisure tourist shall be liable to pay concessional tourism levy of Nu. 1200 per night halt”. Therefore, the House adopted the section. However, general concerns shared were related to the mushrooming of many hotels.


Presentation of the Tourism Levy Exemption (Amendment) Bill 2020 by Hon’ble Finance Minister

Today, the House deliberated on the Tax (Amendment) Bill 2020, adopted the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan followed by introduction of the Tourism Levy Exemption (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 by the Hon’ble Finance Minister.


Presentation of the Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 by Hon’ble Finance Minister 

In the 15th sitting, the Finance Minister, Lyonpo Namgay Tshering introduced the Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020. Followed by, deliberation on the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan.

Introducing the Bill, the Minister informed that the Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020 is one among the six money bills passed by the National Assembly. The Bill was thoroughly reviewed by the Economic and Finance Committee of NA and deliberated in NA on 30 January, 2020. The NA made amendments and adopted the Bill on 31 January 2020.


Re-deliberation on Impeachment Procedure Bill 2019 and the Minister’s Entitlement Bill 2019

Re-deliberation on Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan 2019 and the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holders Entitlement Bill of Bhutan 2019.

The House re-deliberated on the Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan 2019. The Natural Resources & Environment Committee (NREC) presented the objections received from National Assembly (NA) with the submission of the Committee’s observation.

The Legislative Committee of the National Assembly introduced the Bill in the ongoing Session on 16th January 2020, however, with the majority show of hand by the Members, decided not to deliberate the Bill. The National Council (NC) received the Bills on 21 January 2020 with the objections on the Bill. Upon receiving the Bill from the NA, the House directed the NREC to review the Bill for re-deliberations.

he Legislative Committee (LC) presented the objection received from National Assembly (NA) and submitted the Committee’s proposal on the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holders Entitlement Bill of Bhutan 2019.

Highlighting the provision of the constitution under article 13(7) which states that “Where the other House does not pass the Bill, that House shall return it to the House in which the Bill originated with amendments or objections for re-deliberation. If the Bill is then passed, it shall be presented to the Druk Gyalpo for Assent within fifteen days from the date of passing of such Bill”, Hon’ble Choning Dorji, Chairperson for the LC presented the objection received from the National Assembly.


Finance Minister introduces the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020

In the 13th sitting, the Hon’ble Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Tshering introduced the Income Tax (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2020. The Bill was adopted on 30th January, 2020 by the National Assembly and forwarded to the National Council. The House also continued with the deliberation on the recommendations made by the Economic Affairs Committee on the review report on the policies related to vehicle import.


Presentation on the GST by MoF

With an objective to understand and have a clear background on the intent of the reforms in the money bills, especially with the Good and Service Tax (GST) Bill of Bhutan 2020 the members of the National Council today had an in-depth discussion with the officials from the Ministry of Finance (MoF).

Presentation on the GST was carried out outlining the rationale, what GST means, GST cycle demonstration, how GST works, GST design proposed for Bhutan, administration, impacts and benefits of GST,  and comparison of tax rates between pre- and post-GST.


Economic Affairs Committee Presents Review of Policies related to Vehicle Imports

In the 11th sitting the Economic Affairs Committee presented the Review of Policies related to Vehicle Imports, Issues, Consequences & Recommendations.


Continue deliberation on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill & other

9th Sitting: The House continues with the deliberation on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of Kingdom of Bhutan 2020, and Introduction & deliberation on the Entitlement and Service Conditions (Amendment) Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices of Bhutan 2020.


Continue deliberation on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill 2020

In the 8th sitting, the House resumed with the deliberation on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2020.

Extensively deliberating on the power, functions and responsibilities of the Lhengye Zhungtshog and in particular its power to institute, oversee or dissolve the Committee of Secretaries, the House assigned the Committee to further discuss the provisions taking into consideration the views of the members who raised their concerns and prepare for the final adoption.


Introduction of the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill 2020

The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee (SCAC) of the House introduced the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill 2020 today.

The committee stated that most of the provisions of the existing Lhengye Zhungtshog Act (1999) were found to be conflicting with the Constitution as the former was enacted prior to the Constitution. Moreover, the National Law Review Taskforce, 2018, also found the Act redundant and recommended for repeal. Hence the Committee was assigned to review and repeal Act by the House during its 11th Plenary Session.


Introduction of CCPC (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019

In the 5th Sitting, the Legislative Committee introduced the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019. The Bill was tabled on 29th May 2019 and passed on June 6, 2019 during the Third Session of the Parliament. The Legislative Committee of the House was assigned to review and prepare for the deliberation on the Bill. In total, there are 215 sections and 44 Chapters in the original Act (2001).


Deliberation on Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 continues

Today, the House resumed the deliberation on the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019. The House agreed with most of the recommendations proposed by the Legislative Committee while some were assigned to the Committee for re-deliberation. The House directed all the concerned members who have raised their issues during the session to re-deliberate on the sections in the committee meeting.


Deliberation on Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019

The Legislative Committee of National Council of Bhutan introduced the Penal Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 today. The Bill was tabled on 29th May 2019 and passed on June 10, 2019 during the Third Session of the Parliament. The Legislative Committee of the House was assigned to review and prepare for the deliberation on the Bill.


National Council deliberates on follow-up reports

The second sitting of the House resumed with the deliberation on the follow-up reports of the recommendations of the 23rd Session of the National Council.

The House, during the 23rd Session, passed a series of recommendations on issues concerning the Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), Reducing Harmful use of Alcohol, Fronting Issues, the Annual ACC Report 2018, and issue related to the government’s decision to remove Class X cut-off point.


Opening Ceremony of the 24th Session of the National Council

His Majesty the King graced the opening ceremony of the third session of parliament in the morning.

Later in the afternoon, the National Council carried out the 24th session of the National Council of Bhutan with the offering of Marchang, followed by the opening address by the Hon’ble Chairperson.