NC to discuss five bills in upcoming session

The National Council (NC) is set to review the introduction of five new bills that have been passed in the third session of the second Parliament of National Assembly (NA). There will also be a joint sitting of the two houses on the disputed bills. The 14th session of NC is starting from November 12.

The agenda for the National Assembly is still in the process of being finalized.

The NC will discuss on the Tenancy Act (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2014, the Local Government Entitlement Bill of Bhutan 2014, the Bio-safety Bill of Bhutan 2014, the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2014, and the Parliamentary Entitlement Act (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2014.

Apart from bills, the house will also discuss on the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Royal Government of Bhutan. There will be a re-deliberate on the Office of the Attorney General Act (Amendment) Bill 2014 during the session.

The resolutions from the 13th session of National Council reported on issues from Dzongkhag Tshogdu, special audit report on Public Debt, impact of mines and quarries on socio-economic and environment and issues from constituencies and committees which are also to be discussed in the NC’s 14th session.

The status of the Bills coming from NA In the third session of the second Parliament of National Assembly, it passed the Local Government Members’ Entitlement Bill 2014 after 39 MPs voted ‘yes’ and two ‘no’ while one voted ‘abstain’.

NA had rephrased and endorsed the title of the Local Government Entitlement Bill as Local Government Members’ Entitlement Bill. The house decided that the Gaydrungs cannot be included in the bill since they are not elected members of the Local Government and directed the Ministry of Home and Cultural Affairs to hold consultation with Royal Civil Service Commission.

The House also deliberated on the section pertaining to the new section which permits a Tshogpa, or Thuemi of the Gewog Tshogde and Thromde Tshogde to undertake any economic activities as a main source of livelihood.

On this, the house decided the section, if incorporated in the Election Act, must be tabled in the fourth session of Parliament.

The discussions also stressed on the need to provide bonus to the members of the local governments, meant to boost the work motivation. However, the house resolved not to give such a bonus as it was not seen feasible owing to the economic downturn. The house said only profit making organizations can afford to give such a bonus.

While deliberating on the Tshogpa’s entitlement for leave, the house resorted to vote, and decided that Tshogpa’s entitlement to paid leave would add more harm than benefit, as they could be deprived from undertaking private activities.

The house did not endorse the new section which entitles the members of local government to Leave Travel Concession (LTC).

While passing the Bio-Safety Bill 2014 with 36 Members voted ‘yes’, two ‘no’ and one abstained, the NA endorsed to establish a National Bio¬safety Committee.The house also resolved to prohibit research and development involving genetically modified organisms (GMO) capable of reproducing due to the lack Bhutanese expertise in the field.

The house also endorsed a new section which says, “Any person importing genetically modified organisms capable of reproducing into the Kingdom shall be punishable for felony of fourth degree.”

The National Assembly passed the Tenancy Bill of Bhutan, 2014, with 39 members voted ‘yes’ and two ‘no’ and one abstained.

The house resolved to give tenancy authority to the designated department or agency under the Ministry of Work and Human Settlement and establishment of Dispute Settlement Committees in Dzongkhag and at the Dzongkhag Thromde and Gewog.

The house also resolved the Dzongkhag Administration or Gewog Administration or Dzongkhag Thromde as the implementing agencies responsible for the

implementation and administration of Tenancy Act.

NA discussion extended to the application of the Act where it says the Act does not apply in respect of land and premises which are rented out commercially on a daily basis or for a short duration of less than a month.

Some members felt that it could be omitted but house resolved to retain it. With many renting services taking place, including entertainment events for short duration, the absence would hinder in implementation and pose a major problem.

The sections that state that the owner should not increase the rent before two years from the day on which a new tenant occupies the house and increment of rent should not exceed 10% of the monthly rent were also retained.

The National Assembly passed the Parliamentary Entitlement (Amendment) Bill 2014 with 25 members voted ‘yes’ while eleven ‘no’ and two abstained during the third session of second Parliament.

The discussions were held on the entitlements provided to the Member of Parliament for lump sum allowance to purchase a vehicle free of customs duty, sales tax, green tax, and other government levies.

Members expressed that such entitlements are imperative, but others cited that one should be mindful of the economic conditions of the country and monetization of vehicle quota for the civil servants.

The National Assembly passed the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Bill 2014 with 41 members voted ‘yes’ while two voted ‘no’ and one abstained.

After the discussion, the house resolved to remove the section which says a requirement to fulfill obligations under the International Conventions to Treaties or Agreement to the fullest extent possible.

The house also resolved to remove the section which says, “The owner, operator, or occupier, under whatever title, of land for agricultural or other use shall be required to destroy any opium poppies, coca bushes, or cannabis plants found growing there”. As the cannabis plants were abundant growing in wild both in private and government land in Bhutan.

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