The education bill passed by National Assembly (NA) and adopted by the National Council (NC) could prove to set a wrong precedence, given the nature of the bill (debated thoroughly between the two houses) and the manner in which it was passed (not 100% confirmed whether it’s a private bill or a government bill).
The Opposition MP from Gasa during the recently concluded parliamentary session spoke on the premise that although the Education City bill possessed characteristics of a private bill, it was passed as a government bill solely based on discussions which delved on grounds that it was an important bill which if passed in urgency would serve a bigger purpose to accelerate Bhutan’s economic development.
A private bill is one which does not affect the nation or society as a whole but only a particular area, individual, business, etc. Currently there are no clear procedures on passing a private bill. A private bill is again different from a private members bill which can be introduced by individual MPs like Sangay Khandu’s RTI Draft Bill.
The Gasa NA MP said “If the private bill were passed as government bills then there is no telling what other private member’s bills will come up in the future which could even jeopardize the sovereignty of Bhutan”.
He said Education city bill which concerns national interest should be guided or taken by the government as its bill.
“The country’s sovereignty fully depends on its identity so private bills are genuinely something that should be looked into extensively,” said Damcho Dorji.
Few MPs submitted that the education project will benefit only the areas in Wangsisina so it is probably a private bill.
MP Damcho Dorji who backed the submissions said education city bill is clustered only in Thimphu and it is not going to help regional development.
NC MP Rinzin Rinzin said the NC supported it as it was necessary and more importantly it was supported by the government. He said “we did not put-up any disputes on the education city bill which is not even a private members bill but a private bill”.
During NC discussions on the bill NC MP Karma Donnen said he supported the bill but due to the nature of the bill the house should look in the legislative procedures properly.
MP Rinzin Rinzin said that if the government continues to support this sort of bills regardless of its technical nature then issues and problems are inevitable.
Some of the conflict of interest that arouse owing to these issues were of passing private members bills as well. Even though the NC also passed the education bill but initially it was introduced in the NA where NC MPs say it should have been considered similar to the private member’s bills the NA had rejected.
NC MPs told The Bhutanese that even though the NA and the government are not the same but none the less they always act like one.
To further confirm the claims, MP Rinzin Rinzin told The Bhutanese, “Without any question the NA and the Cabinet passed the education city bill as a government bill when is technically a private bill”.