Customs Bill endorsed, clause pertaining to allowances removed

The joint sitting of parliament on May 4 endorsed the Customs Bill 2017, which has been stuck since the seventh session because of disagreements between the National Assembly and National Council over five clauses.

The Lamgong-Wangchag constituency MP Khandu Wangchuk, who is also Chairperson for the joint committee on the customs bill, presented the recommendations on the five disputed clauses.

The first disputed clause was on customs duty rates and revisions on goods shall be approved by the parliament. This was retained to the original section by the joint committee.

The second disputed clause was that customs duty shall not be levied on goods of Indian origin imported into Bhutan in accordance with the free trade agreement between Bhutan and India.

On this, the Joint Committee recommended that it be changed to customs duty shall not be levied on goods imported into Bhutan in accordance with bilateral or multilateral trade agreements signed by the Royal Government of Bhutan.

The third disputed clause was on the bilateral or multilateral agreements signed by Royal Government of Bhutan, which the joint committee recommended, be removed. But after deliberations a consensus was reached that it will now depend on the trade agreement between the countries.

The fourth disputed clause was on the appellant, if unsuccessful with appeal, be liable to pay the disputed amount with penal interest of 24 percent per annum or fraction of thereof. The joint committee recommended it be retained as it is.

The fifth disputed clause was over customs personnel working in the field be entitled to salary based lump-sum allowances, benefits and other emoluments on the approval of the government, upon recommendation by the pay commission. The joint committee recommended removal of this clause because according to the Constitution allowances and benefits mainly depended on the recommendation of the pay commission, therefore a separate provision was not required in the bill, which the joint sitting of parliament agreed to.

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