Council drops Enterprise Registration Bill

Proposed Assembly to do the same, and redo it

NC: The National Council did not deliberate the Enterprise Registration Bill of Bhutan 2015 that the Economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk introduced in the house yesterday.

Instead with 18 of the 20 members present voting in favour of asking the National Assembly to withdraw the Bill, the National Council decided to drop the agenda.

National Assembly passed the Bill in its fifth session of the second Parliament, and Natural Resources and Environment Committee of the National Council reviewed it.

After a thorough research for about five months, the committee Nima Gyaltshen reported that it discovered many issues that the Bill fails to address.

“While reviewing the Bill and consulting the relevant agencies and individuals, we were further steeped in to confusion,” he said. “Further, if passed, the law would create inconveniences in the business community.”

“It’s not that we don’t support the Enterprise Registration Bill, we were simply unconvinced with the lack of comprehensive consultation with relevant stakeholders, contradiction of the objectives with the provisions of the Bill, lack of clarity on the implementation, among others,” he said.

The National Assembly committee summoned the Bhutan Chamber of Commerce and Industry three days before the beginning of the Parliament session.

“During the discussion, the chamber asked to submit the proposals in written and accordingly, a 10-point recommendations were submitted before the session started,” Nima Gyaltshen said.

The recommendations or issues never featured during the discussion in the National Assembly.

The regional offices of the economic affairs ministry were unaware of the enactment of the Bill, which indicated that they were not consulted on the Bill as opposed to the claims the National Assembly committee made.

“The head of one of the regional offices instead asked us how the Bill would actually benefit the business communities,” the chairperson of the committee said.

The committee had proposed not only alteration to the provisions in the Bill but overhauled the Bill adding new chapters.

The committee members also said that making changes to the Bill could completely distort the contents and contradict with the government’s objectives of enhancing the effectiveness of one window system and opportunity to establish good law.

Gasa MP, Sangay Khandu, said, delivering all services through one window online too has issues. For instance, the government to citizen (G2C) online service still has problems.

“Villagers can’t obtain rural timber permit online as internet doesn’t work in some areas but people can’t obtain it in the old way because the service has moved online,” he said.

“If today we deliberate the Bill and submit the proposals then it could do more harm instead of easing lives for the business communities,” Sangay Khandu said.

National Council chairperson said the house would ask the National Assembly to withdraw the Bill after which it could share its proposed changes for betterment of the Bill.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk said that the Bill was aimed at making the economic system of the country viable by providing business registration system and a separate legal entity.

He said that an Enterprise Registration Act would formalize 98 percent of the businesses in the country that do not have appropriate legal status as of now.

Tshering Palden

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