Legislation: Clear, specific, and unambiguous legislation is necessary for the country to be governed well, for the state apparatus to function appropriately and for state finances be managed effectively. Otherwise, misinterpretations or disputes, could delay governance.

It is in this context that managing the drafting of legislation is therefore important. However, Bhutan did not have the tool for proper legislation drafting until the launch of a new manual yesterday.

National Assembly Speaker Jigme Zangpo launched the manual in the presence of Members of Parliament (MPs) and officials from the National Assembly, National Council, and donors.

Speaker Jigme Zangpo called the launch a milestone in advancing the legislative drafting efforts in the country.

“The manual will be a key factor in strengthening the Parliament,” he said.

It is expected to help in planning, designing and use of words and phrases in drafting of bills, which will ultimately have a positive impact on the legislation.

“Enhancing the drafting methods of legislation has been the top priority of the Parliament,” Speaker Jigme Zangpo said. This is a must as the country is a young democracy, he added.

The manual outlines relevant and existing practices and generally accepted drafting principles and conventions for the drafting of bills or subordinate legislation. It is intended to promote uniformity in drafting style and to ensure consistency in the legislation enacted by the Parliament.

It also explains basic principles of drafting bills and other legislative documents.

The manual is intended to align legislative drafting practices conducted by various government agencies and by individual members of Parliament through a private member’s bill.

Such uniformity and consistency would avoid, or at least minimise, misinterpretations or disputes over what the legislation intends to provide.

The publication of the manual was jointly supported by the Norwegian government, Parliamentary Centre of Canada, and International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (International IDEA).

International IDEA is an intergovernmental organisation supporting sustainable democracy. The organisation has been working with the National Assembly and National Council since 2013.

International IDEA Regional Director for Asia & the Pacific, Leena Rikkila Tamang said the organisation is committed to help the National Assembly and National Council. “We cater to the common needs of both, which we have found over the years to be numerous and essential,” she said.

International IDEA will conduct an expert review of committee functions and processes, train the new research officers assigned to each member of Parliament on legislative research; and organise at least one fellowship programme for secretariat staff at other legislatures.

It will also support to develop a manual for parliamentary oversight based on international comparative knowledge; train interested MPs on the process of reviewing bills based on international best practices and produce television and radio shows aired to the Bhutanese public featuring MPs and other relevant speakers.

Laws refer to the Constitution, Acts passed by the Parliament, the subordinate legislation such as rules and regulations made under those Acts, international conventions, covenants, treaties, protocols, and agreements ratified by the Parliament.

Tshering Palden