Parliament: The National Council’s recommendations for the tax reform bill failed to muster adequate support in the National Assembly yesterday. The budget will be submitted for Royal Ascent.

The National Council had recommended the government to add one more tax slab in the tax reform bill with a tax rate of 30 percent on personal incomes exceeding Nu 2 million (M). However, only 15 members voted in favour of this proposal; 24 voted against it.

At least 24 votes are required to pass a bill in the Assembly.

The National Council had also recommended the Assembly to increase the tax exemption limit on education expenses from Nu 5,000 to Nu 15,000 for children attending government schools. This proposal received only 16 “yes” votes.

The National Council had also recommended the Assembly use average selling price instead of export floor price for imposing taxes on mines and minerals. The house also turned down this proposal.

Since the tax reform bill is a money bill, the National Assembly’s decision is final although the National Council can offer feedback and recommendations.

The National Council recommended the government to use some portion of the tourism royalty for development of the community. Many MPs supported the recommendation.

Finance minister Namgay Dorji appreciated the recommendations and said that since the government is formulating a tourism policy, the relevant recommendations would be kept in mind.

Some members were for exploring possibilities to levy some fees and be managed by the management of the tourist spots themselves. This, according to the members could help them become self-sustaining so that the government need not provide budget.

The National Council also said that Lingzhi Dzong be rebuilt as soon as possible. North Thimphu MP Kinga Tshering said the government should rebuild the dzong in the current Plan period instead of pushing it to the 12th Plan.

However, home and cultural affairs minister Dawa Gyeltshen, said that construction of the dzong will require huge resources and the government is of the view that the dzong will be one of the first priorities in the 12th Plan.

MB Subba