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Council deliberates six legislative and four policy issues in last session

The National Council (NC) deliberated six legislative and four policy related issues and public accounts report in the joint session during the 20th or last session of the council.

The house endorsed the Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Bill 2017, Information, Communication and Media Bill 2016, Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substance and substance Abuse Bill and re-deliberated the Audit Bill of Bhutan 2017 and Tourism Exemption Levy Bill.

During the press conference on Thursday, Deputy Chairperson of NC Tshering Dorji said that except for the Tourism Exemption Levy bill, the house amended all other bills.

The Deputy Chairperson also said that the house adopted a set of recommendations on two policy issues that was prepared and presented to the house by the respective committees.

Additionally, the legislative committee submitted the issue on legal aid policy. The house formalized the provision of legal aid service to indigent persons in the country as top priority to ensure that the service is provided in both civil and criminal cases.

“The legal aid services and legal aid to indigent person is available from the time the accused is held in the-custody to facilitate sufficient means to fairer judicial determinations,” said the Deputy Chairperson adding that annual income of a person to be eligible for legal aid should be adopted unless a better alternative is found.

For instance, he said that the annual income should be below Nu 39,000 a year based on national minimum wage of Nu 125 per day or below Nu 69,648 a year for urban areas and Nu 39,012 a year for rural areas based on the mean monthly per capita household expenditure in 2012.

The house also deliberated on the review report on the assessment of access to and use of G2C services presented by the special committee. House adopted recommendations to initiate an annual awareness program on available G2C services with ministries concerned to educate public on the availability of services that are not commonly used.

The house recommended making use of media and other platforms to reach mass audience in rural and urban settings and to conduct G2C online awareness programs that community centers focusing on women and farmers in particular.

Further, the deputy chairman said that the house ratified the Multilateral Agreement for the establishment of an International Think Tank for Landlocked countries.

The house also passed two motions on issues pertaining to leave encashment to Local Government members and omission of budget allocated for black-topping of Chuzomsa-Baylandra road in Wangduephodrang.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu