To ensure that it doesn’t become a dead bill, the Assembly is expected to withdraw and reintroduce the bill

Parliament: The National Assembly is reviewing the National Council’s recommendation to withdraw the Enterprise bill to prevent it from facing a fate similar to that of the Right to Information (RTI) bill.

Chairperson of the assembly’s Economic Development and Private Sector Committee, which has been asked to study the way forward for the bill, Novin Darlami, said the committee has more or less agreed to the recommendations of the Council. “We have already met and agreed in principle to most of the recommendations,” he said.

The committee, however, needed to discuss the issue with other members, and he indicated that the enterprise bill may be re-introduced as a new bill in the next session. “It does not qualify as a disputed bill for deliberation in a joint sitting,” he said.

A similar decision from the Council had led to the death of the RTI bill that the Assembly had passed in February last year. The Council had passed a resolution calling the Assembly to withdraw the bill, but it was sent to the Druk Gyalpo without the Council deliberating on it.

However, member of Legislative Committee Ugyen Wangdi said the RTI bill got stuck because the Assembly refused to withdraw as recommended by the Council. “If the Assembly agrees to withdraw the bill, it can be introduced again as a new bill,” he said.

Soon after the economic affairs minister Norbu Wangchuk introduced the bill in the Council, an overwhelming majority voted to drop the bill earlier this month. Only two members, Zhemgang MP Pema Dakpa and Trongsa MP Tharchen, voted against the proposal to withdraw the bill out of the 20 members present.

The Assembly’s agenda has allotted two days for re-deliberation of the Enterprise Registration bill towards the end of the on-going session. However, the bill is most likely to be withdrawn without deliberation, according to MP Novin Darlami.

Chairperson of the Council’s Environment and Natural Resources Committee Nima Gyaltshen, who proposed the withdrawal, said, “We could not accept the bill as there are many issues. We recommended for a revamping and a reintroduction in the next session.”

Section 18 of the Legislative Rules of Procedure 2011, states, “A bill passed by one House may be withdrawn by the other House on the grounds of, but not limited to, the legislative proposal covered in the Bill being dropped or a more comprehensive Bill on the same subject being proposed at a later date.”

However, an MP said the legal basis on which the bill can be withdrawn should be reviewed.

The Constitution, the supreme law, does not specifically provide for total withdrawal of a bill as stated in the Legislative Rules of Procedure, and nor does it state whether a House can return a bill that is already passed by another House without deliberating on it.

Article 13(7) of the Constitution states, “Where the other House does not pass the Bill, that House shall return it to the House in which the Bill originated with amendments or objections for re-deliberation.”

Should the House in which the bill originated refuse to incorporate the amendments or objections of the other House, Article 13(8) prescribes that the House in which the bill originated should submit it to the Druk Gyalpo for Royal Command to deliberate and vote on the bill in a joint sitting. The Assembly had passed the Enterprise bill in the last summer session and referred to the Council.

Lyonpo Norbu Wangchuk  while introducing the bill said the bill would make the economic system of the country viable by providing a business registration system and a separate legal entity. He also said the bill if passed would formalize 98 percent of the businesses in the country that do not have appropriate legal status.

By MB Subba