Dorji Khandu

Journal of a Young Parliamentarian

๐ƒ๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐›๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐ง ๐‚๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฌ ๐ƒ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฒ ๐๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐œ๐จ๐ง๐ญ๐ข๐ง๐ฎ๐ž๐ฌ

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 governmentโ€™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 governmentโ€™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. ๐๐ฎ๐ž๐ฌ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐‡๐จ๐ฎ๐ซ ๐’๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐ฐ๐ข๐ญ๐ก ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐‡๐จ๐ง’๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐Œ๐ข๐ง๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐„๐œ๐จ๐ง๐จ๐ฆ๐ข๐œ ๐€๐Ÿ๐Ÿ๐š๐ข๐ซ๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐‡๐จ๐ง’๐›๐ฅ๐ž ๐Œ๐ข๐ง๐ข๐ฌ๐ญ๐ž๐ซ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐„๐๐ฎ๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง
  2. ๐‘๐š๐ญ๐ข๐Ÿ๐ข๐œ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐€๐ ๐ซ๐ž๐ž๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐›๐ž๐ญ๐ฐ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐†๐จ๐ฏ๐ž๐ซ๐ง๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐Š๐ข๐ง๐ ๐๐จ๐ฆ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐๐ก๐ฎ๐ญ๐š๐ง ๐š๐ง๐ ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐‚๐ฅ๐ข๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐…๐ฎ๐ง๐ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐๐ซ๐ข๐ฏ๐ข๐ฅ๐ž๐ ๐ž๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐ˆ๐ฆ๐ฆ๐ฎ๐ง๐ข๐ญ๐ข๐ž๐ฌ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐†๐ซ๐ž๐ž๐ง ๐‚๐ฅ๐ข๐ฆ๐š๐ญ๐ž ๐…๐ฎ๐ง๐
  3. ๐ˆ๐ง๐ญ๐ซ๐จ๐๐ฎ๐œ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐†๐จ๐จ๐๐ฌ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐’๐ž๐ซ๐ฏ๐ข๐œ๐ž๐ฌ ๐“๐š๐ฑ (๐€๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐๐ฆ๐ž๐ง๐ญ) ๐๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐๐ก๐ฎ๐ญ๐š๐ง ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ ๐š๐ง๐ ๐‚๐ฎ๐ฌ๐ญ๐จ๐ฆ๐ฌ ๐ƒ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ฒ ๐๐ข๐ฅ๐ฅ ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐๐ก๐ฎ๐ญ๐š๐ง ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ

๐ˆ๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ข๐ฆ ๐‘๐ž๐ฏ๐ข๐ž๐ฐ ๐‘๐ž๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐’๐ญ๐š๐ญ๐ž-๐Ž๐ฐ๐ง๐ž๐ ๐„๐ง๐ญ๐ž๐ซ๐ฉ๐ซ๐ข๐ฌ๐ž๐ฌ

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.

 

 


๐…๐จ๐ฅ๐ฅ๐จ๐ฐ-๐ฎ๐ฉ ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐ซ๐ž๐ฌ๐จ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐Ÿ ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”๐ญ๐ก ๐’๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง

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 โ€“ 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

Honโ€™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.
Honโ€™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.

๐Ÿ๐Ÿ”๐ญ๐ก ๐’๐ž๐ฌ๐ฌ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐๐‚ ๐‚๐จ๐ง๐œ๐ฅ๐ฎ๐๐ž๐ฌ

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 Honโ€™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 โ€œOffice 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 Committeeโ€™s Review Report on Royal Audit Authorityโ€™s Annual Report 2019 and Audit Review Reports from 2010-2018

The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) presented the Committeeโ€™s Review Report on Royal Audit Authorityโ€™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 Authorityโ€™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, committeeโ€™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 Generalโ€™s advisory series on Bhutan schedules of rates and its application by the government agencies and the committeeโ€™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 Procedureย Code (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2019 withย 65 Yesย andย 6 Abstainย out ofย 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 committeeโ€™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 withย 63 Yesย andย 6 abstainingย out of theย 69 members present and voting


๐—ก๐—– ๐—ฎ๐—ฑ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐˜๐˜€ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—™๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ ๐—”๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐˜†๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—š๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—•๐—ต๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—œ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ธ; ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—”๐—ป๐—ป๐˜‚๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—”๐—ป๐˜๐—ถ-๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ฟ๐˜‚๐—ฝ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—–๐—ผ๐—บ๐—บ๐—ถ๐˜€๐˜€๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ฅ๐—ฒ๐—ฝ๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐˜ ๐Ÿฎ๐Ÿฌ๐Ÿญ๐Ÿต

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 โ€˜Yesโ€™ and 5 โ€˜Abstainโ€™ 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.

๐ƒ๐ž๐ฅ๐ข๐›๐ž๐ซ๐š๐ญ๐ข๐จ๐ง ๐จ๐ง ๐ญ๐ก๐ž ๐€๐‚๐‚ ๐€๐ง๐ง๐ฎ๐š๐ฅ ๐‘๐ž๐ฉ๐จ๐ซ๐ญ ๐Ÿ๐ŸŽ๐Ÿ๐Ÿ—

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; Bhutanโ€™s ranking on Transparency Internationalโ€™s Corruption Perception Index (TI-CPI); follow-up on National Councilโ€™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 Internationalโ€™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, Honโ€™ble Members shared their views and suggested additional recommendations.

๐—œ๐—ป๐˜๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฑ๐˜‚๐—ฐ๐˜๐—ถ๐—ผ๐—ป ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—™๐—ฟ๐—ฎ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐˜„๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ธ ๐—”๐—ด๐—ฟ๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ฏ๐—ฒ๐˜๐˜„๐—ฒ๐—ฒ๐—ป ๐˜๐—ต๐—ฒ ๐—ฅ๐—ผ๐˜†๐—ฎ๐—น ๐—š๐—ผ๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—ผ๐—ณ ๐—•๐—ต๐˜‚๐˜๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ฑ ๐—˜๐˜‚๐—ฟ๐—ผ๐—ฝ๐—ฒ๐—ฎ๐—ป ๐—œ๐—ป๐˜ƒ๐—ฒ๐˜€๐˜๐—บ๐—ฒ๐—ป๐˜ ๐—•๐—ฎ๐—ป๐—ธ

Honโ€™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 countryโ€™s external commercial borrowing guidelines and might undermine Bhutanโ€™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 governmentโ€™s proposed expiry of the fiscal incentives on 31st December 2021. With a show of hands, the House adopted the committeeโ€™s recommendations.
The House endorsed the Fiscal Incentives (Amendment) Bill 2020 with 23 โ€˜Yesโ€™ votes and one โ€˜Abstainโ€™ 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 Honโ€™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, Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 committeeโ€™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, Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 โ€œ 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.โ€

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 Bhutanโ€™s natural resources and environment.
Following the introduction, Honโ€™ble Lyonpo responded to the queries of the Honโ€™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 committeeโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 governmentย 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 governmentโ€™s budget policies of deferring LTC and withholding transfer benefits for civil servants and made suggestions of exploring alternative measures if available. Some Members wereย 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 โ€˜Economic Resilience and Transformationโ€™, 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 Honโ€™ble Minister said that the government has, upon the Royal Command, established National Resilience Fund of Nu. 30 billion to support Druk Gyalpoโ€™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 governmentโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Honโ€™ble Chairperson, on behalf of the all the Bhutanese and in particular the Honโ€™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 Holdersโ€™ 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 Committeeโ€™s Report

Joint Sitting adopts five recommendations on the PAC review report.

With a two-day deliberation on the Public Accounts Committeeโ€™s Review Report on RAAโ€™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 โ€œYESโ€ and 1 โ€œABSTAINโ€ vote.


PAC Presents its Review Report on RAAโ€™s Annual Report 2018 to the Joint Sitting

The Chairperson of the Public Accounts Committee, Honโ€™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 isย 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 Honโ€™ble Finance Minister Lyonpo Namgay Tshering introduced the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill Financial Year 2019 โ€“ 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 Holderโ€™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.

Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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 Committeeโ€™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 โ€œYESโ€, 2 โ€œNOโ€ and 2 โ€œABSTAINโ€ 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, Honโ€™ble Members expressed their support on the amendment in Section 7; Chapter 2 which states that โ€œA regional leisure tourist shall be liable to pay concessional tourism levy of Nu. 1200 per night haltโ€. 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 Honโ€™ble Finance Minister.


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

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 Committeeโ€™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 Committeeโ€™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 โ€œWhere 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 Billโ€, Honโ€™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 Honโ€™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, ย 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 governmentโ€™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 Honโ€™ble Chairperson.


Advanced Media Literacy Workshop

Attending the 3-days workshop on advanced media literacy held from 18-20th December, 2019 at Namgay Heritage Hotel, Thimphu. It was Organized by the Bhutan Media Foundation with the support of HELVETAS Bhutan and European Union.

In the world of the digital era, technology has made it easy for anyone to create media. Consequently, media literacy is a crucial skill all media consumers must have in order to be able to interpret and analyze media information.

I truly appreciated the insightful training organized by the Bhutan Media Foundation. It was very inspirational, energizing, bringing scores of ideas, with both substantial and in-depth knowledge together with case studies.


The 19th Asian Pacific Parliamentariansโ€™ Conference on Environment and Development

Attending the 19th Asian Pacific Parliamentariansโ€™ Conference on Environment and Development held inSeoul, Republic of Korea from December 10-12,2019.

The Asia Pacific Parliamentariansโ€™ Conference on Environment and Development (APPCED) was established in 1993 by the National Assembly of the Republic of Korea for the purpose of forming a forum for parliamentarians of the Asian Pacific region with a common concern for environmental and developmental issues. It has 46 member countries and supports mutual efforts among governments through policy development as well as collaboration at the parliamentary level.


Attended the 4th Edition of the Royal Highland Festival at Laya

Attended the 4th Edition of the Royal Highland Festival at Laya accompanied with Honorable Prime Minister of Bhutan from 23-25th October, 2019.


Attending the 9th DT of Gasa District

Local governments are closest to the people, which serves the people best.

Attending the 9th DT of Gasa District today as observer considering the importance of LG and to understand the grassroots issues.


12th NREC Meeting

Committee meets today to develop methodology flow chart for the review of buyback policy and timetable for field visit and other committee programs.


Social Policy Training

This program aims to provide the participants with the knowledge and understanding of the value of the social policy.

The 10-day training program was organized by Royal University of Bhutan with full financial support provided by the UNICEF Bhutan.

The training will be primarily resourced by faculty members from Sherubtse College, National & International Experts and attended by professionals who were engaged in policy-related work in various organizations.


NC Visits PHPAs

National Council visits the Punatsangchhu Hydroelectric Project Authorities (PHPAs).

Fifteen members and the secretariat staffs led by the Hon. Chairperson visited the PHPA on 9-10 July 2019. The visit was carried out with the objective to understand the ground realities and update the members on the over-all conditions of the PHPAs.

Presentations were made during the visit highlighting the mandates, objective, project organizational set-up, challenges faced and way forward of the projects. It was also underscored that series of site visits by the consultants/experts, convening of various technical group and technical coordination committee meetings were held to resolve challenges and finalize the way forward.


11th NREC Meeting

As the Committee was assigned with one legislative issue and one policy issue by the House during the internal workshop held on 2nd July 2019, the Committee convened to discuss and plan the way forwards for the issues.ย 


Closing Ceremony of the 2nd Session of the Third Parliament

His Majesty The King graced the Closing Ceremony of the 2nd Session of the Third Parliament.


Presentation of the Performance Audit Report by Public Accounts Committee

Presentation of the following Performance Audit Report by Public Accounts Committee:
  1. Performance audit report on preparedness of implementation of sustainable development goals
  2. Audit report on the revenue collection and management in Thromdes
  3. Audit report on Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry
  4. Performance audit report on in-country travel
  5. Review report on the implementation status of the 11th session resolution
  6. Performance audit report on provision of drinking water in Thimphu Thromde
  7. Performance audit report on delivery of OPD services at Jigme Dorji Wangchuk National Referral Hospital

Adoptions

  1. Adoption of amendments and recommendations on Budget and Appropriation Bill 2019-2020
  2. Adoption of Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan
  3. Adoption of Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holderโ€™s Entitlement Bill of Bhutan
  4. Adoption of recommendations on issues related to TVET
  5. Adoption of recommendations on issues related to Harmful Use of Alcohol
  6. Adoption of recommendations on issues related to Fronting
  7. Adoption of recommendations on Annual Anti-Corruption Report 2018

Continue discussion on Budget and Appropriation Bill

Continue discussion on Budget and Appropriation Bill 2019-2020.


Presentation of Budget and Appropriation Bill 2019-2020

The 18th sitting began with the Finance Minister, Hon. Namgay Tshering presenting the National Budget and Appropriation Bill 2019-2020 and Supplementary Budget & Appropriation Bill for FY 2018-19 as approved by the National Assembly on 14th June 2019. Fifteen Hon. Members raised questions to the Minister on the Bill.


Adoption of amendments and recommendations on Pay Revision Bill

Adoption of amendments and recommendations on Pay Revision Bill of Bhutan 2019.


Deliberation on Recommendations

16th Sitting; Deliberation on Recommendations of the Ad-hoc Committee on Pay Revision Bill of Bhutan 2019

The House deliberated on the recommendations of the Ad-hoc Committee on Pay Revision Bill of Bhutan 2019. The members shared their views on some of the sections and sought clarification from the Committee.


Pay Revision Report 2019

The 15th sitting convened with the introduction of the Pay Revision Report by the Minister for Finance. Thirteen members of the National Council raised 27 questions related to pay revision.


Review Report on Fronting

The Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) presented the review report on fronting: issues, consequences and recommendations.

The members of the committee detailed-out the review report which included background, introduction, motives for fronting, the difference between FDI and fronting, measures taken to curb fronting, limitations and weaknesses of government actions, risks and impacts of continued fronting and committee recommendations.


Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holderโ€™s Entitlement Bill of Bhutan 2019

The Legislative Committee introduced the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holderโ€™s Entitlement Bill of Bhutan 2019 before the august House for deliberation.

Presenting the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holderโ€™s Entitlement Bill of Bhutan 2019, Hon. Karma Tshering, Chairperson of the Legislative Committee provided an overview of the background. He emphasized that the Committee was tasked to draft the Bill from the National Councilโ€™s work planning workshop held in Paro form 29-31 July 2018. Reporting that the Bill is considered as a Private Member Bill by the House as the Government has been established just over half a year and they have many important priorities including other important BIlls to work. And the members of Lhengye Zhungtshog are directly affected by this Bill in view of the perceived conflict of interest.


Review Report on Harmful Use of Alcohol

The Good Governance Committee presented the review report on Harmful Use of Alcohol to the House. The Committee highlighted the background, objectives and methodology of the study and the relevant stakeholders consulted. The Committee had submitted its interim review report during the 22nd Session of the National Council and was directed to further review the issue to understand the root causes of alcohol consumption and challenges faced in reducing its harmful use.


Impeachment Procedure Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2019

The Natural Resources and Environment Committee introduced the Impeachment Procedure Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2019 for the Holders of the Constitutional Offices. Honโ€™ble Tashi Samdrup, Chairperson to the Committee introduced the Bill and presented the background, purpose of the Bill, principal elements and financial memorandum.

In introducing the Bill, Chairperson to the Committee provided an overview on why it was drafted in the first place and highlighted Article 32 of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan which states that โ€œthe removal of the Holders of the Constitutional Offices only by way of impeachment by Parliament. Article 32(5) further stipulates that โ€œthe procedure for impeachment, incorporating the principles of natural justice, shall be as laid down by law made by Parliamentโ€. Therefore, the National Council initiated Legislative drafting of the Impeachment Procedure Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2019 for the Holders of the Constitutional Offices.


Review Report on Technical and Vocational Education and Training

The members of the Special Committee on Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) submitted its review report for deliberation in the House. The report comprised a general background; methodology for review; the current scenario of the TVET system; observation and issues for deliberation and recommendations. The House focused its deliberations on the five recommendations proposed by the committee.


The House Ratifies Two International Agreements

The House unanimously ratified the Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer, and the Air Service Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the United Arab Emirates today.


Follow-up Reports on the Resolutions of the 22nd Session

The 2nd Sitting of the National Council convened with the deliberation on the follow-up reports on the resolutions of the 22nd Session. The report included the GNH Commissionโ€™s view and decisions on the draft 12th Five Year Plan (FYP), and responses from the National Assembly (NA) on the Budget Appropriation Bill for the FY 2018-19.


23rd Session of the National Council Commences

The 23rd Session of the National Council of Bhutan commenced on 23 May 2019 with traditional Marchhang Tendrel ceremony presided over by the Honโ€™ble Chairperson.

 

 


International Conference on Well-being and Urban Development

It was a great experience attending the conference and listening to the prominent speakers, highly accomplished professionals and academics.

The International Conference on Wellbeing and Urban Development was Organized by the Centre for Bhutan and GNH Studies (CBS) from 16-17 May.

The conference aims to address the challenges of urban planning and development as Bhutan is now considering an approach to urban development aligned with happiness and wellbeing.


Visited Laya Central School

I had the pleasure of visiting Laya Central School and interacted with teachers and students.

The Laya Lower Secondary School was actually upgraded to become the central school in April last year with an objective to encourage and enable students from Laya to complete their basic education.

Inadequate infrastructure and the absence of proper facilities are the main concerns for both the school and gewog administration.

However, the budget was allocated under 12th FYP for the Upgrading of school facilities and infrastructure development.


Visited Lungo Extended Classroom and ECCD

The ECCD centre which was established with support from UNICEF was inaugurated on April 10, 2019.

Children of Lungo, a remote village in Laya now have access to early childhood care and development (ECCD) centre.

Thank you UNICEF and Ministry of Education for reaching the unreached.


Visit to Bjishong Central School

I had a great pleasure of visiting one of the pioneering academic institutions-Bjishong Central School, Damji and had an interactive discussion with teachers and supporting staffs. Thank you, BCS for your warm hospitality and kind gesture of welcoming during my first ever visit.


Gasa Sector Head Meetings

Had a fruitful consultative meeting with sector heads of Gasa District followed by meeting with teaching staffs of Gasa Primary School.

For an increased level of public impact, it is crucial to consider the public participation in the policy and lawmaking process. This will encourage the public to have meaningful input into the decision-making process.


Consultative meeting on the Draft Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan 2019

The Natural Resources and Environment Committee (NREC) held consultative meeting with the Holders of the Constitutional Offices on the Draft Impeachment Procedure Bill of Bhutan 2019.
The Chairperson of the Anti-Corruption Commission, Election Commissioner of the Election Commission, and concerned officials from the Constitutional Offices attended the meeting. Besides Committee Members, other Honorable Members of the House also attended the meeting.

12th Plenary Meeting

Presided over by the Honโ€™ble Chairperson, the members convened for its 12th plenary meeting yesterday.
The highlights of the discussion in the plenary included progress report by the Committees; nominating members for the Parliamentary Friendship Group for Bangladesh, India and Thailand; and procedures for discussion on Pay Commission Report amongst others.

Consultation meeting with MoLHR

In pursuit of thorough policy review and as a part of in-depth discussion, the Special Committee for TVET met with the officials of the Ministry of Labour and Human Resources led by the Directors of the Department of Occupational Standards (DOS) and the Department of Technical Education (DTE) today.


NREC Meeting (8th)

The Natural Resource and Environment Committee convened the 7th meeting today to discuss on the 2ndย Draft of the Impeachment Bill and the Amendment to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete Ozone Layer.


UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh 4th Memorial Lecture

Today I had an opportunity to deliver Madanjeetโ€™s Singh memorial lecture on the occasion of UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjet Singhโ€™s 95th birthday at Pondicherry University, India.

 

UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Madanjeet Singh

(April 16,1924- January 6,2013)

A visionary, philanthropist, diplomat, artist, and founder of the South Asia Foundation who, all through his life, championed the cause of unity and goodwill amongst the peoples and countries of South Asia. A UNESCO Prize for Promotion of Tolerance and Non-Violence has been established in his name.

His commitment to Regional Cooperation in South Asia resulted in setting up of ten Institutions of Excellence in the Eight SAARC countries.

 


Visited Asian College of Journalism

Today I had a pleasure of visiting the UNESCO Madanjeet Singh Centre of South Asian Journalism (UMCSAJ) at the Asian College of Journalism (ACJ) and interacted with scholarship recipients of the SAARC countries and the faculty members.

In an innovative move designed to promote regional cooperation, the South Asia Foundation (SAF) has instituted scholarships for young people from the eight SAARC countries to study at the UMCSAJ, Chennai.


Visit to King Prajadhipokโ€™s Institute (KPI)

We had a great opportunity to visit King Prajadhipokโ€™s Institute (KPI) today. The institute was named after King Prajadhipok (Rama VII) of Thailand who signed the first constitution in 1932.

With warm gestures of welcome, the faculty of the institute made a comprehensive presentation on the KPIโ€™s roles and duties, politics and constitution, and public participation in public policy.

The Hon. Speaker of the Parliament of Bhutan and General Secretary of KPI, Professor Woothisarn Tanchai shared various key aspects of the cooperation and friendship, and similarities between Thailand and Bhutan.

KPI aims to become a leading academic institution in Thailand and works to develop democracy and good governance, sustainable for the benefit of the people of Thailand.

The autonomous public organization, established for academic purposes is guided by the national assembly of Thailand.


140th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union

It was a great honored to be part of the Bhutanese parliamentary delegation led by Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly of Bhutan attendingย the 140th IPU Assembly scheduled from 6 – 10 April, 2019 in Doha, Qatar.

On 6th April, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani inaugurated the 140th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union(IPU) and its related meetings in the presence of 2271 parliamentarians and Speakers of 80 parliaments representing 162 countries.

All IPU statutory bodies, including the Governing Council, Standing Committees, Committees on the Human Rights of Parliamentarians and on Middle East Questions, as well as the Forum of Women Parliamentarians and the Forum of Young MPs, will meet on this occasion.