Chhimi Dema 

The National Assembly (NA) on June 29 adopted the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Bill 2021.

The Bill was deliberated in the National Council (NC) on Monday and passed to NA for re-deliberation with recommendations.

The House accepted all the 10 recommendations of NC.

Chairperson of legislative committee, Tshewang Lhamo, said that the NC’s recommendations were consistent with the NA’s amendment proposal. “NC [had also] recommended some provisions that the committee had missed to mention.”

The Bill was adopted with 38 ‘Yes’ votes. One abstained and one voted against it.

NC had recommended the Lower House to add the commercial purpose in sections 13, 14, 15, and 17 of the Bill concerning taxing and importing tobacco and tobacco products. The Upper House also had recommended removing sections 32 (1) and 35 (a), and subsections (c) and (e) under section 43.

The sections that were recommended to be removed were enforcing quantity limitations on import, examining in check posts, and carrying out search operations of tobacco and tobacco products.

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that the Bill was amended considering the Covid-19 situation. The proposal to amend the Bill was to discourage smuggling of tobacco and its products.

“The amendment of the Bill is beneficial now and would be in the future,” Prime Minister said, adding that it does not mean that tobacco would be available everywhere in the country.

He said that in consultation with relevant organisations, rules and regulations for import, sell and buying of tobacco would be developed.

The House also adopted the Tax Bill of Bhutan 2021.

The Tax Bill 2021 reduces the existing 100 percent sales tax on tobacco and tobacco products to zero percent.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk