Council members show their approval of the recommendations

Council passes three Bills and policy recommendations  

The National Council yesterday passed three Bills and four policy recommendations submitted by its committees.

The Bills tabled for adoptions that would be sent to the National Assembly are:

Recommendation on the budget for fiscal year 2019-20

The Council recommended the government to provide adequate budgetary support to Royal Education Council (REC). The budget proposed for REC in this fiscal year to conduct curriculum orientation workshop for 1,110 teachers was Nu 14.2 million. However, the budget approved was Nu 8.5 million, which barely covers the expense for 490 teachers.

The house also approved the recommendation to divide budget allocation for tangible and intangible culture and heritage to provide adequate resources to conduct research and preserve intangible culture across the country. The house recommended the government to allocate a certain amount on an annual basis to the Culture and Heritage Trust Fund.

Realising the impact of hydropower revenue on the national budget and other macroeconomics parameters, the Council requested the government to direct the project authority of Punatshangchhu 1 to undertake holistic assessment of stability of the entire right bank to find a way forward.

The house also recommended delineating the amount of fund allocated for highland development and, to adhere to the existing Royal charter and relevant legislations with regard to state-owned enterprises.

Impeachment procedure Bill, 2019

National Council approved the impeachment procedure Bill, which will hold constitutional post holders accountable for their responsibilities. It will apply to removal from office of the holders of the constitutional offices through impeachment by the Parliament.

Article 32(5) of the Constitution states that the procedure for impeachment, incorporating the principles of natural justice, shall be as laid down by law made by Parliament. Constitutional post holders can be removed only by way of impeachment on the ground of “incapacity, incompetency or serious misconduct.”

Minister and minister equivalent post holders’ entitlements

NC adopted the establishment of a national committee on the entitlements of minister and minister equivalent post holders. The committee will comprise of seven members.

The members will be nominated by chief justice, speaker, council chairperson, opposition leader, chairperson of privy council, cabinet and the ministry of finance as non-voting member secretary.

However, Gasa NC member, Dorji Khandu raised concerns on the inclusion of Privy Council because the definition of the ministers’ equivalent post holder does not mention Privy Council. “Our section contradicts the definition and therefore, I am not able to support the bill.”

He said Privy Council was different to minister equivalent post holders because unlike the ministers and constitutional post holders there was no fixed term for the chairperson of Privy Council.

NC adopted the bill with 21 Yes votes and one No vote. The bill will be submitted to the National Assembly for deliberation.

The policy recommendations that would be submitted to the government and relevant agencies are:

Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET)

With 22 Yes votes, the NC passed the recommendations grouped under five areas and called on the attention of the government to ensure that TVET sector is dynamic, innovative and responsive to the changing labour market needs.

The five recommendations are governance and leadership, diversification of courses and enrichment of curriculum, professional development for instructors and trainees, industrial and institutional linkages and collaboration, and financial support.

Submitting the recommendations for approval, Special Committee Chairperson, NC Phuntsho Rapten said there is an urgent attention to develop a comprehensive national TVET policy, develop a separate career structure for TVET professionals in the civil service and accord TVET sector priority both in national planning and budget allocation, among others.

Reducing harmful use of alcohol 

With 22 Yes votes, the NC passed the recommendations to provide equal focus on addressing the root cause through interventions including exploring the option of identifying BNCA as the overall agency to spearhead measures to reduce harmful use of alcohol.

It called on the government to conduct a national level in-depth study on alcohol followed by periodic impact assessment of the interventions made, and consider including indicators to measure progress on overall psychological and emotional wellbeing of people in the APA.

Committee chairperson Tashi Wangmo said that absence of a dedicated agency for alcohol control was partly the reason for ineffective implementation of measures reflected in the National Policy and Strategic Framework to Reduce Harmful use of Alcohol 2015-2020.

“The performance indicators set in APA focused only on tangible outputs despite the need to focus on indicators that measure progress on social capital development.”

Fronting

With all 22 members present voting Yes, the House passed the recommendations to urgently table the trade and investment Bill so that there are comprehensive legal and institutional mechanisms to detect and deter fronting, legally identify the lead agency to address fronting, and build on existing network and cooperation with border control agencies on the Indian side to collect, monitor and share data among others.

The House also called on the Royal Monetary Authority to conduct a thorough study to consider the relative merits and risks of allowing the Indian Rupee to circulate alongside the Ngultrum and submit its findings to the NC and government.

Annual Anti-Corruption Report 2018 

The House passed the recommendations and called on the judiciary to explore appropriate measures such as establishment of special bench for corruption cases to expedite the trial process.

With 22 Yes votes, it recommended the government to provide necessary support to facilitate the judiciary in its effort to expedite the trail process of corruption related cases including human resources development of the ACC.

 

Yangchen C Rinzin & Phub Dem 

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