Tashi Dema

Introducing the Mines and Mineral Bill 2020 and through candid opinions while answering questions, economic affairs minister Loknath Sharma sought National Council’s recommendations.

He reasoned the need to amend the existing Mines and Minerals Management Act of Bhutan 1995 (MMMA), justifying the Act has become obsolete and contravenes with many provisions of laws. “Many members here know the Bill and I am confident the deliberation here would help in the government earn revenue through tax and also help people.”

Works on the Bill started in 2010.

Lyonpo Loknath Sharma said Royal Audit Authority and Anti-Corruption Commission issued findings on mines and minerals and NC had also raised issues on mines and minerals in the past and conducted studies. “The Bill has to be in harmony with the Constitution and other relevant laws.

Members asked questions, where some even asked if the minister received any calls from influential individuals on the Bill. “I don’t know influential people and I don’t answer calls from unknown numbers,” the minister said.

Meanwhile, NC’s legislative committee chairperson, Choining Dorji, said the committee consulted with relevant agencies, including local government officials and private sector. “Some meetings were conducted online meeting because of the pandemic.”

He said the committee proposed amendments, repeal and inserting new provisions in the bill. “We reduced the number of sections to 150 from 191.”

He also explained the structure of the Bill and said they added words from the Constitution in line with it.”

Eminent member, Dasho Tashi Wangyel, said he would be guided by the Constitution, His Majesty’s royal addresses and RAA and ACC’s reports while deliberating the law.

Meanwhile, NC members have three drafts of the Bill, one from the economic affairs ministry, one from National Assembly and one from the committee in tabular form.