With 19 ‘yes’ votes and two ‘abstaining’ votes, the National Council adopted to submit the issue regarding the legality of the Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC) to His Majesty the King.
The Upper House argued that the setting of BOiC is illegal as per the Civil Service Act as creation of a new agency out of the civil service has to be passed in the Parliament. NC also pointed out that the formation of BOiC is not in keeping with the Constitution.
Article 20.2 of the Constitution states, “…Creation of an additional ministry or reduction of any ministry shall be approved by Parliament. Ministries shall not be created for the purpose only of appointing Ministers.”
BOiC was to function under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, but was referred as an autonomous agency with independence of funding.
NC Chairperson, Sonam Kinga, also said that the House supports BOiC because it helps people, but in terms of budget, it should be allotted in the budget report for fiscal year, as per the law.
Eminent member, Karma Yezer Raydi, said that although the House asked the government about legality of BOiC, the government informed the House that they are yet to receive a response on it from the Office of Attorney General (OAG).
He said that it is unnecessary for OAG to take a long time to decide since the decision from the Attorney General is not final as it does not come from court. “It is just a government excuse,” he said.
In the earlier session, the House had asked the government to legalize the set up of BOiC by issuing an Act. Last year, when the House asked the Prime Minister on the legality of the BOIC, then the Prime Minister responded by saying that if it was illegal, then the government is ready to shut it down.
Eminent member, Karma Yezer Raydi, said the government would have the authority to set up BOiC if it came up with the Act. “What is important is that we, as representative of people, should be exemplary when it comes to working in accordance to the law,” he added.
Deputy Chairperson, NC, Tshering Dorji, said that government is also starting to set up Better Business Council, a body similar to BOiC.
Eminent member, Kuenley Tshering, said that in one-week period, it would be enough to get response from the OAG.
Lhuenste, NC Tempa Dorji, said that BOiC is set up to fulfill its objectives in a four year timeframe. He said that he is doubtful whether it was also set up to fulfill political objectives. He said that precedence has to be set, with strong rules, to check such the set up of such bodies. He said if not checked, any government of the day will set up their own bodies.
NC Chairperson also said that the House waited for NA to come up with the Act, but instead it forwarded the issue to OAG for its legal opinion, which could have taken only a week to decide, but it was prolonged for a year.
BOiC was set up as an autonomous body for implementation of revolving funds created as part of Economic Stimulus Plan to foster the growth of cottage and small manufacturing industries, therefore, contributing to employment creation, export enhancement or import substitution.
His Majesty will decide whether to forward the submission on BOiC by NC to the Supreme Court or not.