Dechen Dolkar  

The upcoming eighth winter session of Parliament, which will begin from November 4, will deliberate five new Bills, including three financial Bills.

The Bills include draft civil service law reform Bill 2022, the clean wage (pay revision) Bill of Bhutan 2022, poverty tax Bill 2022, the tax Bill of Bhutan 2022 and civil liability Bill of Bhutan 2022.

The National Assembly (NA) conducted the preliminary meeting yesterday to set the agenda for the session.

According to NA, the civil service reform Bill is a government Bill submitted for deliberation and it is a legitimization of the ongoing civil service reform to revamp its system and structure for a right-sized, future-ready, efficient, and effective civil service that would deliver the status of developed Bhutan.

This Bill provides the legal basis for restructuring and reorganization of the civil service and it includes restructuring of ministries and agencies.

The NA also mentions that the government also submitted three money Bills – the clean wage (Pay Revision) Bill of Bhutan 2022, the property tax Bill of Bhutan 2022, and the tax Bill of Bhutan 2022.

The NA states that since the Bills related to money or financial matters are confidential in nature, the Bills will be shared with the public after its introduction by the finance minister.

According to the RCSC annual report 2021-22, under a clean wage system, civil servants will get a pay package without hidden benefits.

The existing system of pay and allowances is complex with more than 25 different allowances for civil servants. The preliminary appraisal was that the clean wage (Pay Revision) Bill of Bhutan 2022 is part of the civil service reform initiative.

The civil liability Bill of Bhutan 2022 was introduced as a private member’s Bill in the

National Council in its 29th session and was presented to the NA for deliberation.

The objective of the Bill is to provide a comprehensive legal framework on civil liability and guide the procedures of claiming compensation for violating individual fundamental rights. This Bill recognises accountability and transparency in society and in governance.

Parliament will also discuss the agreement on the movement of traffic-in-transit between the government of Bangladesh and Bhutan. This agreement provides alternatives for Bhutan’s transit trade for all third-country goods and is a framework to ensure greater connectivity with and through Bangladesh by road, rail, air, river, and coastal waterways.

Along with the movement of traffic, this agreement aims to promote, facilitate, expand, and deepen trade relations with Bangladesh. At present, Bhutan has transit agreement only with India.

In addition to the above Bills, parliament will also discuss review report of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s Annual Report 2021-2022 by the Good Governance Committee, and review the report on the balance of trade by the Economic and Finance committee.

The joint-sitting of parliament will deliberate the public accounts committee’s review report on performance audit report on farm road development and management in Bhutan and performance audit report on safe and sustainable road transport system.

The joint-sitting will also discuss disputed provisions in the Royal Bhutan Police (amendment) Bill 2021.

Following the disagreement between the two Houses of Parliament on some provisions of the Bill, a parliamentary joint committee was established to review the disputed clauses.