Despite NC’s concern that the Bills are adopted without uniformity and consistency
The National Assembly (NA) adopted the Custom Duty (Amendment) Bill 2021 yesterday.
The House deliberated on the recommendations received from the National Council (NC) and supported the recommendations from the NC to have the Bill replaced with the Act, since there was no change in meaning.
The NC reasoned that the legislative drafting manual (LDM) 2016 provides that the form and style in the manual must be used in the preparation of bills to promote uniformity of style and ensure constituency.
However, the House noted that the Customs Duty (Amendment) Bill 2021 adopted by the NA does not conform to the requirements of the said manual.
As per section 6.1.1 of the LDM 2016, a bill is prepared in the exact form of the Act it is intended to become when enacted by Parliament.
The NC pointed out that in the past few sessions the NA adopted both ordinary Bills and Money Bills without uniformity, and failed to ensure consistency in the adoption of the Bill as required by the LDM 2016 , especially concerning the title, commencement, extent provisions.
It cited an example that during the fifth session of the third parliament, the budget appropriation bill for financial year (FY) 2020-21, supplementary budget appropriation bill for FY 2020-21, the provision of title, commencement, and extent were amended and adopted as a Bill rather than accepting the original clause submitted by the government.
The Custom Duty Bill of Bhutan 2021 and GST (Amendment) Bill 2021 adopted by the NA as submitted by the government has Act in the provision of title, commencement, and extent.
Similarly, in the Tax Bill of Bhutan 2021, the provision of title, commencement, and extent were amended and adopted as a Bill rather than accepting the original clause submitted by the government.
In the case of the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021-Urgent Bill, the provision of title, commencement, and extent submitted by the government has the title of Bill, and the NA adopted the same.
The Entitlement and Service Conditions (Amendment) Bill for the holders, members, and commissioners of constitutional office of Bhutan 2020 and the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of Bhutan 2019 which was passed by the NC during the 24th session have Act in the title, commencement, and extent provisions, and the provisions were adopted by the NA during their fourth session without any amendments.
The NC, therefore, recommends that all Bills, including the Money and Financial Bills, be drafted in accordance with the provisions of the manual.
The recommendations from the NC on the Customs Duty (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021 pertained to sections on Preamble, Title, and Commencement.
However, the House decided to retain NC’s recommendation on the commencement section since it provided more clarity.
The chairperson of the legislative committee, Tshewang Lhamo, said that as per the LDM, any amendment or a new bill becomes an Act when it is passed from the House. “It clearly mentioned that it should be a Bill.”
She said that there is a trend in the two Houses that when the NA mentions it as Act, NC recommends it as Bill and when it is mentioned as a Bill the upper house recommends it as Act.
The House adopted the Bill with 38 ‘yes’ and one ‘no’ vote.
The Bills will now be submitted for the Royal Assent.