In its seventh year Bhutan’s Parliament is undergoing important changes that have, so far, escaped most observers.
This political evolution is leading to a Parliament that is growing more in confidence and strength by the day.
There is a noticeable improvement in the quality of discussions, and more importantly, the legislative research that goes into such discussions.
MPs in both the National Assembly and National Council are increasingly able to use the Parliament to affect real changes on the ground.
One example of such positive change is the NA Human Rights Committee introducing a resolution that bars financial institutions from publishing the pictures of loan defaulters. An example in the case of the NC is ensuring that the RAA comes out with several inconsistencies in the mining sector. That feedback and attention has helped draft a stronger Mineral Development policy.
The committees in both the houses are increasingly becoming more professional and stronger in their jobs, playing a more coordinated role in legislation. Though not in all cases, these committees are comparatively carrying out more consultations with different stakeholders.
Much more than before, there is an increasing tendency in both houses to better understand the implications of the laws they are making.
Even conversations with individual MPs show a higher level of awareness on laws and its implications.
In this session the role of the National Council has been particularly prominent in rejecting the Enterprise Registration Bill based on feedback from the private sector and also the rejection of the European Investment Bank agreement on sovereignty issues. The NC has brought about good debate in key areas like Tourism, Hydropower, Local Government and Employment through their comprehensive review reports.
The government, which is the executive, must see all of this as an opportunity to get feedback, come up with better laws and see issues from various angles for better decision making.
A basic tenet of a healthy democracy is open dialogue and transparency.