…until the mines and mineral management Act is amended

While the government approved the mineral development policy after eight years of contemplation, the National Council recommended halting its implementation until the mines and mineral management Act get amended.

It also recommended doing away with the clause, which states that lease tenure shall be issued for the expected economic life of the mine up to a maximum period of 30 years.

Eminent member Tashi Wangyel said that the mineral development policy is not in line with the Constitution and in the interest of the nation to create a harmonious and just society.

He said that the Constitution guarantees the rights over mineral resources, rivers, lakes and forests to the State and are properties of the State. He added that when state resources are used in the interest of few people, it not only disregards the state policy of just society but also widens inequalities between the rich and poor.

He explained that this is also not attuned to the Constitution that hold state responsible to develop and execute policies to minimise inequalities of income, concentration of wealth, and promote equitable distribution of public facilities across the country.

“The NC is exercising the provision of the Constitution whereby the Parliament is mandated to ensure that government safeguards the interests of the nation and fulfills the aspirations of people through public review of policies and issues, Bills and other legislations, and scrutiny of State functions,” he said.

He added that the existing mines and mineral management Act was framed in 1995 and does not adequately cover the Constitutional mandates.

However, the Council’s stand was that it was supposed to be put up for an amendment in this session. Members said that the minister in one of the question hour sessions in the last session pledged to put the amendment Bill.

Eminent member Tashi Wangmo also said that if the government is not going to put up the amendment Bill, the Council could initiate the revision.

Trongsa representative Tharchen said that the nexus between the government and businesses is leading to policy corruption.

He said that both the elected governments, as a political entity has availed loans from financial institutions and couldn’t repay them. Businesses, particularly people from the mining industry, he said, helped the parties in repaying the loans. “There is an indication of policy corruption,” he said.

Tharchen suggested the mineral development policy not to be implemented until the Council reviewed the policy thoroughly.

Chairman Sonam Kinga (Phd) said that before the Council proceeds with the revision of the Act, it is important to remind the government and hold an internal discussion within the Council.

On mining industries helping the parties clear their debts, he said that if it were true, the Council would have to review who benefited from the policy and how.

Tshering Dorji