The 20th session of the National Council, which started on Wednesday, will deliberate on three legislations, two policy issues, and one international agreement during this session.
Chairperson of NC Sonam Kinga, during the opening session on Wednesday, highlighted the deep appreciation conveyed by the Government of India to His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo for playing a key role in resolving the recent Doklam standoff, expressed deep appreciation for His Majesty’s continued guidance and wisdom in promoting national sovereignty and security of the country.
He further offered his heartfelt gratitude to His Holiness the Je Khenpo for presiding over the oral transmission of Kanjur at Kuensel Phodrang for the peace and prosperity of the country and the world at large.
The Chairperson then ran down the agenda of the 20th session which includes three legislations, two policy issues and one international agreement.
Following this, MP Sangay Khandu, the Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee reported the decision taken by the National Assembly on the nine recommendations passed by the National Council in the last session on Budget Bill 2017-18.
MP Tharchen from Trongsa pointed out that the way it was deliberated in the National Assembly suggests that the relevant ministers had misread the recommendations passed by the National Council.
Presenting the follow-up report on the issue of Mineral Development Policy (MDP) 2017, the eminent member of the house, Tashi Wangyel, said that the Attorney General’s interpretation of the section in MDP 2017 is not in line with the His Majesty’s vision of promoting “Just and Harmonious Society”.
Some of the members also shared similar concerns and called for the amendment of Mines and Mineral Development Act 1995 and expressed disappointment on the way the government responded to the issue.
The house resolved to collect the list of individuals who have been granted mines on lease and also those who have applied for it. In addition, the House resolved to study the amendment of the Mines and Minerals Management Act 1995.
According to the Deputy Chairperson, who is the Media Spokesperson of the National Council, the session began with the follow-up report on the resolutions of the 19th session, and the House will deliberate four legislative issues, two policy reviews and a ratification of an international agreement.
The legislative issues include the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Bill 2017 which started the deliberation yesterday, the Bhutan Information, Communication and Media Bill 2016, re-deliberation on the Audit Bill of Bhutan 2017, and an amendment of the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substance and Substance Abuse Act of Bhutan 2015. The policy issues include a review on the Legal Aid to Indigent Person and a report on the Government to Citizen Services.
The House will also ratify the Multilateral Agreement for the Establishment of an International Think Tank for Landlocked Countries. The Joint Sitting of the Parliament will deliberate the Public Accounts Committee reports and disputed bills if any.
The session will be punctuated by question time and will also include Constituency issues and any other business if any.
The Deputy Chairperson said formal session of NC is a culmination of numerous plenary sessions, committee meetings and stakeholder consultation meetings with the relevant agencies since the last session.
A total of 55 plenary sessions and numerous committee meetings were conducted by the NC during this tenure.
The Spokesperson also reported that in carrying out its representational role, the members have been travelling in their constituencies for the last couple of months to hear from the people at the grassroots. In addition to this, the members participated in regional and international parliamentary forums and conferences to represent the Parliament and exchange views on various issues.
The 20th session of the NC will tentatively conclude on December 7, 2017.
Pema Seldon from Thimphu