OAG Bill, Enterprise Registration Bill and Entitlement and Service Conditions Bill introduced in the National Assembly

The Chairperson of the Good Governance Committee introduced the Office of the Attorney General Bill in the National Assembly yesterday. The Bill was received from the National Council and had been referred to the Good Governance Committee for further review

Further, the Minister for Finance, Namgay Dorji introduced the Entitlement and Service Conditions (Amendment) Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of the Constitutional Offices.

In the Entitlement and Service Conditions Act for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices of Bhutan, 2010, hereinafter referred to as the Act, Section 4 of Chapter 2 is amended as “a person appointed as the Holder of a Constitutional Office shall resign from his or her previous office with post service benefits.”

Also a new section is inserted after Section 4 of Chapter 2, it states “a person appointed as Member and Commissioner of a Constitutional Office from the civil service or public sector shall be considered on second/deputation till expiry of their term and can returned to his /her respective agency.”

The Minister said that the Bill was proposed for amendment, mainly to address the issue of Members and Commissioners of the Constitutional Officers who complete their tenure before the normal age of retirement. Members express their support for the amendment, but also opined that it was important to be mindful of the pros and cons of such amendment, and the Bill has been referred to the Legislative Committee for review.

The Minister, Ministry of Economic Affair (MoEA), Norbu Wangchuk, presented the Enterprise Registration Bill of Bhutan 2014 in the National Assembly. Enterprise means a business operated for profit.

The principal objectives of the Act are to provide for the establishment and maintenance of a register of enterprises, that an application for registration of an enterprise shall also constitute, if and as appropriate, an application for any license, sector clearance, permit or authorization necessary for the conduct of the intended business of that enterprise and registration of the owner of the enterprise as a tax payer. Another objective is for public access to information contained in the register and that relevant functions may be conducted electronically.

This Bill also says that in accordance with Article 7(10) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, a Bhutanese citizen shall have the right to practice any lawful trade, profession or vocation. Every enterprise registered under this Act shall have a business name

The MoEA Minister said that the Bill was tabled, mainly to established business registration system and give legal entity to business firms in the country. He informed that only 2% of the 42,000 trade licenses issued by the government are currently covered under the Companies Act of Bhutan, and hence, such an Act was important for the economic development of the country.

The Members of Parliament recommended having only one Act covering provisions related to both the companies and the enterprise registration. It was opined that merging the two Acts together would prevent unnecessary enactment of a new law while addressing the issues at the same time.

“Similar discussions ensued in the ministry, following which assessments were carried out to have only one Act in place, covering both companies and enterprise registration. However, it was technically found not feasible to have an Act addressing both the provisions, given the differences in nature of business and investment level between companies and enterprises,” the MoEA Minister said.

The Enterprise Registration Bill has been referred to the Private Sector Development Committee for further review.

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