BBIN transport agreement deferred to summer session

Henceforth, a majority vote will be based on the total number of NA members and not on the number of members present 

NA: The National Assembly yesterday deferred the Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Transport Agreement to the next session as recommended by a special committee comprising seven members from both the ruling and opposition parties.

The House also resolved on the calculation of a majority vote, which henceforth, will be based on the total number of members of the House and not on the total number of members present in the house. Previously, bills were passed either by a show of hands or a simple majority of members present.

Economic Affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk, who presented the recommendations of the committee to the House said, “The discussion on the agreement went well, but there was some confusion on counting a majority vote,” he said. “We also realized from our deliberation in the House that the transport agreement was important.”

A bill or an international convention should secure a minimum of 24 votes to be passed or ratified. “We decided that, henceforth, all bills, international conventions and agreements would be passed by a simple majority of the total number of members of the House,” lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said.

Section 4 of Article 13 of the Constitution states, “A bill shall be passed by a simple majority of the total number of members of the respective Houses or by not less than two-thirds of the total number of members of both Houses present and voting, in the case of a joint sitting.” Section 189 of the National Assembly Act also states, “A Bill shall be passed by a simple majority of the total number of members of the National Assembly.”

During the deliberation on November 17, the opposition members had expressed concerns the regional agreement could have on Bhutan’s security, foreign relations and local economy.

Lamgong Wangchang MP Khandu Wangchuk said the agreement should be endorsed only after a thorough consultation with stakeholders including transport operators. “The agreement is likely to affect the livelihood of our transport operators,” he said requesting the House to defer the agreement.

Foreign minister Damcho Dorji said given the benefit of the agreement to the country, both the elected governments have been involved in extensive discussions leading to the signing of the regional agreement.

MB Subba

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