National Council Deputy Chairperson and Spokesperson Jigme Wangchuk described the 21st session as fruitful at the post-session press conference in Thimphu on June 28.

The Spokesperson said that although the session lasted two weeks, the NC held deliberations for a week only. The session began on June 15 and concluded on June 27.

“It was a historic session. The session was not only short, but it also passed a six-month budget for the first time,” Jigme Wangchuk said. 

The NC did not introduce any new bills during the session. The house unanimously passed the Agreement for Avoidance of Double Taxation and Prevention of Fiscal Evasion between Bhutan and Bangladesh.

Signed during the visit of Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina to Bhutan in April 2017, the agreement plans to do away with double taxation of incomes between the two countries.

The National Assembly passed the agreement in its last session. The agreement will now be submitted for Royal assent.

Eminent member and chairperson of the legislative committee, Karma Tshering, said that the NC would deliberate on the legal aid to indigent persons during its next session although the house had received a written response from the government. “We will deliberate on the issue in our next session since there was no adequate time this session,” he said.

The house held only one Question session, with agriculture minister Yeshey Dorji. In response to Zhemgang NC member Pema Dakpa’s question on farm shops, the minister said that among many major activities conducted by the ministry to promote businesses, the ministry has established 163 farm shops across the country. 

The NC also unanimously adopted the Interim Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2018-2019 and the Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2017-18. 

Presenting the budget in the NC, finance minister Namgay Dorji said that to enhance the local government, most of the gewog center roads have been black topped, utility vehicles provided and service centers and banking services opened among other activities.

On the closing day of the NC, Chairperson Tashi Dorji highlighted the main legislative items the house would take up in the next session. 

He said that the agenda for the 22nd session would include amendment of Minerals and Mines Management Act 1995 and Impeachment Bill.

Staff Reporter