12 major legislative and policy issues under NC scanner

Parliament: The National Council (NC) is currently reviewing 12 major legislative and policy issues.

One of the major reviews being undertaken by the House is with respect to harmonisation of laws. The House is also tracking implementation of Acts as it was found that some agencies take up to six years to implement a law after its enactment.

This has resulted in undue delay and discrepancies in the implementation of the clauses that require subordinate legislations.

The writ issued recently by the Supreme Court, asking the Election Commission of Bhutan to defer elections in 16 thromdes and 20 yenlag thromdes was a result of inconsistencies in electoral laws and the Constitution.

Speaking at the NC’s third press conference yesterday in Thimphu, Spokesperson Tshering Dorji said the writ was a required intervention that will benefit  democracy in the long run. “We pointed out some of the inconsistencies in the laws in our past discussions,” he said.

Tshering Dorji, who is also the Deputy Chairperson of the House, hailed the role of media in promotion of democracy through information dissemination. He said the House will interact with journalists on a regular basis.

The House is reviewing issues related to education, agriculture, teenage pregnancy, consensual sex and sexual harassment, among other issues.

The legislative committee has proposed an amendment to some provisions of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2011 pertaining to consensual sex of children below 18 years of age. Many members are in support of an amendment.

Further research will be carried out to authenticate how many and to what extent such cases have aggrieved people in society.

A special committee has been constituted to review issues related to the quality of education. Findings of the committee will be presented to the House in the 18th session.

The Spokesperson said the NC is always in session as Parliament in general and the NC conducts most of its business through committees. “Since then, the committees have been conducting a series of meetings with concerned agencies and stakeholders to have a deeper understanding of the issues at hand,” he said.

The committees have been periodically reporting on the status and progress of their works to the House.

The House is also reviewing the controversial Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) motor vehicle agreement. The agreement, which was passed by the National Assembly recently, aims to facilitate and regulate the cross-border movement of vehicles within the sub-region.

The NC’s legislative committee is currently in consultation with stakeholders and will come up with a report that will be presented in the winter session.

Since the conclusion of the formal siting of the 17th session, the committees have concluded 49 meetings with various stakeholders apart from plenary sessions. The Spokesperson said relevant committee meetings and fortnightly plenary sessions will continue till the commencement of the next session.

Some committees have moved a motion for amendment some laws and drawn attention of the House on certain issues that have impacted the public. Others sought further directives and guidance on their on-going assignments from the plenary.

MB Subba

1 reply
  1. btcivicsense
    btcivicsense says:

    HARMONIZATION OF LAWS: SOLUTION AT THE SOURCE!

    While going through several articles published in the Kuensel dated Thursday, August 11, 2016 and Friday, August 13, 2016 like “12 major legislative and policy issues under NC scanner, Council supports Supreme court writ and Thrompon not part of LG (August 13, 2016)”, YES I totally agree that there is clear contradictory and non-harmonization among relevant laws and the constitution. BUT the approach in addressing this issue is something that I would like to share my opinion. I applaud what Hon’ble NC members are initiating in this regard, however, I say that it is short term measures as for how long will the Hon’ble NC’s continue undertaking such task.

    My recommendation is, there is a “SOLUTION AT SOURCE” from long term perspective and it is mere commonsense. We all know that there is a tool adopted by many countries especially OECD known as “Regulatory Impact Assessment (RIA – for more information please Google it)”. However, RIA is much bigger and complex tool but we could simplify it into our context, objective and scope. Borrowing RIAs concept and methodology, we could develop a similar tool as a mandatory requirement to be fulfilled by the concerned agency/organization prior to submission of any legislation for enactment to/by the parliament. Such tool may be called as “Legislation Impact Assessment/Analysis (LIA – broad scope) or Cross-Legislation Impact Assessment/Analysis (CLIA – narrow scope)” with the objective to overcome dis-harmony and contradictory legal provisions with other relevant laws and the constitution. It should be like a rule that laws shall be accepted by the parliament only upon ensuring proposed law is not in contradictory or dis-harmony with any other relevant laws. If there are inevitable and pertinent legal provisions that is in contradictory or dis-harmony then concrete observations and suggestion has to be submitted but upon consulting and having reached a consensus with the concerned stakeholder(s). Overall, upon ensuring and addressing all the contradictory and dis-harmony among all relevant laws, a detail report has to be submitted along with the Bill to the parliament.

    On the other hand, like to inform all here that a good practice like RIA has been initiated 5 – 7 years ago in Bhutan and the managing authority is the Cabinet Secretariat (CS). If you visit CS website, one will find a whole lot of guidelines and regulations on RIA. It is just sad that there are good initiatives and measures put in place previously but it dies down just as a mere record especially when there is change in people managing the work and the organization/agency/institution. First negative impact of this is all the hard work, time and resources put in by various dedicated individuals go down the drain. Secondly, government’s investment is lost and finally, it adds up further to the cost and resources. I often observe that stock taking of good and bad practices is not being considered by the subsequent people or organization/agency/institution who takes over as the new in-charge or when there is a change or transition. One reason behind is also due to lack of proper record keeping and poor handing-taking over norms. These are simple things, YET we fail to do the needful and inculcate strong foundation. I wonder WHY?

    Am sharing this mainly being concerned on the approach adopted in addressing non-harmonization or contradiction of laws and trying to provide a long term solution that is sustainable.

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