Phub Dem

Finance Minister Namgay Tshering proposed the amendment to a provision in SDF Charter in keeping with the larger interest of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

The amendment is expected to ease project collaboration among the member states through SARRC Development Fund (SDF).

The National Assembly adopted the amendment with majority votes yesterday.

Bhutan is the only SAARC country that has not amended the Article 5 of the Charter.

Article 5 says: “The resources and facilities may be utilised for funding if projects involve more than two but not all SAARC member states.”

To fund regional projects, lyonpo said that the SDF Charter required the involvement of more than two member states. However, it was found that SDF faced difficulties finding projects that fulfilled the criteria of more than two member states.

Some entrepreneurs said that the Fund did not benefit the private sector and individual projects because of the eligibility criteria. “Majority of the projects in Bhutan are cottage and small industries (CSI) and the Fund did not benefit.”

To implement regional integration and to expedite feasible projects, the Human Rights Committee of the National Assembly proposed to amend Article 5 as projects involving one or more than one member states with the direct benefit going to more than one member state.  

SDF’s board of directors, during the 13th meeting in Colombo, Sri Lanka in August 2013, endorsed the Charter for amendment.

Lyonpo said seven years had passed after the SAARC’s governing council chartered the amendment.  

Druk Air’s ATR was, for instance, was bought from concessional loans at a lower interest rate. Moreover, the Fund provides convertible currency. “Although Druk Air’s ATR was Bhutan’s project, the project directly benefit more than one member state.”

In the meanwhile, the House unanimously adopted two amendments to the sections 29B and 131 of the Negotiable Instrument Act of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2000.

Section 29B concerns forged or unauthorised signatures, while the section 131 concerns dishonouring of cheque for insufficiency of funds in the accounts. Both the sections state that the penalties for the offences ought to be as per the provisions of the Penal Code of Bhutan 2004.