Opposition charges govt with violating constitution and laws

Opposition Leader (OL), Dr Pema Gyamtsho, said the Constitutional Bodies have pointed out that the government is in breach with the provisions of the Constitution, and existing laws and rules, on several issues.

Citing as an example, OL said that the government, granting authorized leave of absence to the three government secretaries, was found to be against the RCSC Act. He added that the import of electric vehicles (EVs) has violated the provisions of the Constitution and disregarded the rule of law as reflected in ACC’s Annual Report 2014. OL also said that the legality of instituting the Business Opportunity and Information Centre (BOiC), questioned by the Opposition, is under discussion at the National Council. The National Council has referred the issue of legality of BOiC to His Majesty the King for judicial review.

OL asked the Prime Minister to brief the House on the course of action being taken to fix accountability on those responsible or to take responsibility for the violation of the Constitution.

Home Minister, Damcho Dorji, said that it is very important to respect Acts and laws of the country. Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said, “In any meeting in the Cabinet, we urge that it should not be against the Acts and law of the country,” and further added, “If the government is found to be going against the laws and rules of the Constitution, then we want it in writing, and if it true we will consider and give justification.”

Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said clarifications must be made with the government before anyone sending press releases to media. “When government makes any plans or policies, some people say it is against the Act and law, and some say it is according to the Act and law, we cannot understand it.”

He said that the government follows and respects the Acts of the different Constitutional Bodies, like ACC, RAA and RCSC.

The Home Minister, Damcho Dorji, asked the Opposition, National Council (NC), Anti Corruption Commission (ACC) and Royal Civil Service Commission (RCSC) to point out, with clear legal reasons and justifications in detail, if the government is really in breach with the provisions of the Constitution, or any other laws and rules. He said vague annual reports and press releases without evidences are not the final word on such issues.

With regard to the ACC report, which highlights that import of EVs has violated the provisions of the Constitution, the Home Minister said such a conclusion was made only by ACC, and the government has justified that it is not against the law and the Constitution.

He said, “Whether it is right or wrong, we cannot say just now. As ACC is one of the Constitutional Bodies, we respect it.” He said the same goes for RCSC and NC.

On BOiC, he said there have been many discussions in NC, but the government has not received any written letter stating that is against the law and rules. “Government will never do the work which is against the law and the Constitution.”

MP of Panbang, Dorji Wangdi, said the ACC report was sent to the PM, a month earlier than it was made public, as highlighted in the media. He asked the Home Minister for clarifications on the matter.

Lyonpo Damcho Dorji said with the EVs, the government held discussions with ACC and justified the reason for it not being against the laws and rules. “Government has imported EVs according to the Sale Tax, Custom Excise Act of Kingdom of Bhutan 2000,” the Home Minister said. “Chapter 13 of the Act states that the import of the following goods into Bhutan shall be restricted, like used or second hand goods, vehicles, machinery and equipment.”  He informed the House that EVs fall under restricted goods and not prohibited goods.  “If it was prohibited then we cannot import it.”

He said that EVs are exempted from green tax as the EVs produce no pollution while others fuel vehicles are taxed as it pollutes the environment.

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