Mines and Minerals public shareholding increased to 49 %

The third reading of mines and minerals was held on 20th January bringing up views from the committee’s mining site visits, public consultations and public hearing conducted on the Bill.

The House in the following days discussed on Chapter 5, 6 and 7 on Management of Mining Ax  ctivities, Rights and Obligation of Lessee and Short-Term Mining, Surface Collection, Fossicking and Artisanal Mining respectively.

In addition, the Committee as instructed by the House submitted its recommendations and findings on Section 54, 55, 56 and 71 which the House endorsed on consensus.

The mines and minerals bill 2020 are scheduled for further discussion on 28th of January.

So far, the discussions mostly entailed the ownership of mines and minerals while reviewing the existing mining laws.

Most of the members agreed that, while prospecting minerals there was a need to compensate the private landowners- in regard to which the Economic and Finance committee recommended that landowners’ written consent was needed to validate the promotion and development of mining on their lands.

The National Assembly agreed to increase the public shareholding ownership from the draft 40% to 49% in line with the vision of narrowing the gap by making broad-based ownership in mining operations.

The move for coining in the new section in the bill was to ensure fair distribution of wealth as in contrast to the concerns raised by a handful of people’s representatives during the first legislative public hearing on mines and minerals as on 10th January.

During the hearing, participants shed light on the unequal distribution of wealth towards the better positioned sections of the social hierarchy where only a handful of them benefited from the mining operations.

Kinley Wangchuk, Chairman of Economic and Finance committee said that this would enable investments from small investors in the mining sector.

The house decided to lease the mining operations through open auction, while turning down the proposed period of 30 years down to 20 years. The mines having 15 years of lease period are to get 5 additional years for operation and the mines having lease period of 10 years are to get an additional of 10 years as stated by Kinley Wangchuk.

The committee had proposed at least five promoters to which most of the members came to an agreement that more numbers might result in corruption practices. 31 out of 43 members voted in favor of removing the proposed 5-member promoter pledge.

The MoEA minister also added that having a greater number of promoters would take away the opportunity of tabling innovative ideas as it would have to be discussed in consent of other members.

The house rejected the committee’s proposal.

The deliberation also touched on the management of social risk, sharing of socio-economic benefits and generation of local level benefits especially towards the affected communities.

About Abhinaya Chhetri

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