Choki Wangmo

With the show of hands, all members of the National Assembly yesterday supported the provisions of the agreement between the government and the Green Climate Fund (GCF).

The Chairperson of the Environment and Climate Change Committee, Gyem Dorji introduced the agreement to the House.

A few members, however, raised concerns on article 7 section 2 of the agreement which states: “The fund, without being restricted by financial controls, regulations, or moratoria of any kind may hold funds, gold or currency of any kind and operate accounts in any currency, and shall be free to transfer its funds, gold or currency from one country to another or within any country, and convert any convertible currency held by it into any other convertible currency.”

Drametse-Ngatshang member (MP) Ugyen Wangdi said that such clauses might be problematic in the future without any protocols and proper channels, particularly, to bring in and take currencies in the form of gold.  “The clause concerning gold should be changed or removed since it is obsolete.”

Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering acknowledged their concerns and assured that there wouldn’t be such issues. “GCF doesn’t work that way.”

MP Ugyen Wangdi also said that the government should also consider neighbouring offices in the region to settle disputes instead of going to Hague, the Netherlands, as given in the agreement.

“In case of disputes, settlement at Hague would be costly and the relevant authorities like the Office of the Attorney General should be involved,” he added.

The committee chair said that such dispute settlement places were assigned to avoid conflict of interest.

Some members asked about the sustainability of the fund if Bhutan graduates from the Least Developed Countries category in 2023.

Lyonchhen and the agriculture minister Yeshey Penjor, said that the country’s identification, criteria and indicators would change as per the graduation but not the support from the GCF.

“Governments and their institutional and financial support will change according to the terms and conditions but GCF is different from these supports. The fund is for environment-related projects, water and air which is important globally,” Lyonchhen said.

The agreement will be tabled for adoption today. 

GCF was introduced on November 27 by the Finance Minister Namgay Tshering who is a member in charge of the agreement. Stating the merits and principles of the convention, Lyonpo urged the House to support the motion to deliberate on it. The Bill was handed to the Environment and Climate Change Committee for examination and presentation to the House.

GCF is the world’s largest dedicated fund helping developing countries reduce their greenhouse emissions and enhance their ability to respond to climate change.