Choki Wangmo

Bhutanese in Australia from July this year will receive consular assistance through embassy.

Foreign Minister Dr Tandi Dorji, in response to Bartsham-Shongphu’s MP Pasang Dorji’s question, said that the foreign ministry had been working on making the project a success since establishing the embassy was one of the top priorities of the government to commemorate the 40th birth anniversary of His Majesty.

Although the project was not included in the current Plan, the government had repeatedly discussed in Lhengye Zhungtshog considering the need to provide services to an increasing number of people residing in Australia.

Last December, a group of experts from Bhutan visited Australia to study the feasibility of setting up either a consulate office or an embassy.

Lyonpo said that the government had three options in the beginning—either to buy land to construct an office, rent a space, or to buy an office.

According to the findings of the expert group and government’s affordability, the government will buy two buildings worth Nu 300 million.

“It will take about two months to set up the office and the embassy is expected to be open by the end of July,” Lyonpo said. “Besides strengthening diplomatic relations, the move would help Bhutanese living in Australia and the neighbouring countries such as New Zealand.”

Mobile sawmill services

Meanwhile, during the session, MP for Chumey-Ura Karma Wangchuk asked the agriculture minister whether the mobile sawmill services in rural areas would continue after July.

Last year, the government issued an order for the continuity of the service which according to Karma Wangchuk had benefitted the people in far-flung regions. He requested the government to continue the service until the Forest and Nature Conservation Act 1995 (FNCA) is tabled for amendment in the Parliament.

Agriculture Minister Yeshey Penjor said the ministry had amended some clauses of the Act and had extended the service for at least another year. However, it would be applicable to only those timber provided as kidu and not for commercial purposes.