Dechen Dolkar

It could be a light session for the newly-constituted National Council going by the agenda on the table. The elected members to the 4th National Council received their dhar from His Majesty the King on Wednesday, June 6.

On the agenda are only five Bills to be discussed and there are no policy reviews to be done. The session, however, will conduct several “committee meetings.” According to the Council’s tentative agenda, there are only five Bills that will be discussed and adopted during their first session, which commences today.

The Council will deliberate on the National Digital Identity Bill of Bhutan 2023, disputed clauses in the Forest and Nature Conservation Bill of Bhutan 2021, disputed clauses in the Civil Liability Bill of Bhutan 2022, the annual budget appropriation Bill for Financial Year 2023-2024 and Supplementary budget appropriation Bill for FY 2022-2023 and the Pay Revision bill of Bhutan 2023.

The newly-elected Councillors will also get an opportunity to question the cabinet ministers including the Prime Minister during its ‘question and answer’ sessions. In between there will be five days of committee meetings. 

The new Councillors will discuss the disputed clauses in the Civil Liability Bill of Bhutan 2022 and Forest and Nature Conservation Bill of Bhutan 2021 in the joint sitting session besides deliberating on the public accounts committee’s review report on the annual audit report 2021-2022.

Deputy Chairperson of the NC, Dago Tsheringla, said that the NC received proposal from the National Assembly to table the BIMSTEC charter, agreement on the movement of Traffic-in Transit between Bhutan and Bangladesh, the declaration of a new biological corridor connecting Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary with Sakteng Wildlife Sanctuary, and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities in the current session.

This means, the government Bills that get passed in the National Assembly cannot be tabled in National council for this session.

However, Dago Tsheringla said that they could not include it in the current session since they need time for research on the Bills and the agenda. The NC will table it in the next session.

The deputy chairperson said that they have to keep more committee meetings during the current session to discuss more on the two disputed Bills – National Digital Identity Bill of Bhutan 2023.

Eminent member of NC, Phuntsho Rapten clarified that when a Bill originates in the National Assembly, it is not necessary to table the Bill in the current session of the NC.

He said that they need to prepare to table the Bills in the subsequent session. It will be assigned to a committee where researches and stakeholder consultations will be done. “Only urgent Bill or money Bill will be tabled in the same session.”

He also said that Bills that were tabled in the lower house could also be forwarded to the upper house within 30 days after discussion of the Bill in the house. “However, these Bills were not included in the agenda for this session since the session is only for 30 days.”

The NC can also originate and table the Bills for the parliamentary session.

However, Eminent member Ugyen Tshering said that NC did not originate the Bill for the this session since it requires three sessions to enact the Bills. “As the current National Assembly members dissolve in October and Bills might get dead and cannot be tabled in the next parliament.”

The session starts today.