Thukten Zangpo

The first session of the fourth National Assembly concluded with the adoption of four Bills and endorsement of the ambitious Nu 512.29 billion 13th Plan on July 6.

The Speaker of the National Assembly, Lungten Dorji, said that the budget allocated for the 13th Plan was one of the highest compared to previous plans with the goal to enhance community service delivery and elevate Bhutan to achieve high-income country status by 2034.

The House also adopted the Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2024-25 and Supplementary Budget Appropriation Bill for the financial year 2023-24, which will be submitted for the Royal Assent.

For the financial year 2024-25, the House approved the total budget of Nu 97.63 billion – Nu 46.82 billion as capital and Nu 50.81 billion as current budget.

The House also adopted the supplementary budget of Nu 3.22 billion, adding to the initial budget of Nu 85.52 billion for the fiscal year 2023-24. This brings the revised total to Nu 88.75 billion, as approved in the appropriation Bill.

“It is important that the concerned ministries, departments, agencies, and local governments utilise the budget efficiently and effectively for community development activities in the best interest of the country and its people,” Lungten Dorji said.

During the session, the House also adopted the Marriage (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2024 and The National Assembly (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2024, which will go to the National Council for further deliberation.

The House also ratified the Air Services Agreement between Bhutan and Kuwait 2024.

Six motions were moved and adopted, which will be submitted to the concerned agencies for necessary implementation for which follow-up reports have to be submitted in the next session.

The motions covered the government to come up with the education Bill, establishing a crop and livestock compensation trust fund, reviewing MaX system of civil service and to do away with Bell-Curve methodology for evaluating performance ratings of civil servants.

Additionally, the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources to relocate high-tension power transmission towers erected in densely populated areas to safer places, and the government to allocate funds for relocation and compensation or replacement of land for private land where relocation is not provided.

One of the motions was to review organisational structures of the health ministry and the national medical service for ensuring unhindered healthcare service delivery, and government to allocate an adequate amount for the priority development fund in the next fiscal year.

A total of 49 questions were admitted during the session, comprising 40 oral questions and nine written questions.

In the joint session of the Parliament, there were extensive deliberations on the Public Accounts Committee’s (PAC) review of the Annual Audit Reports for 2022-23 and the Annual Audit Reports from fiscal year 2010-22 with the recommendations put forth by the Royal Audit Authority and the PAC.

The joint sessions’ endorsement of these recommendations will be submitted to the government for follow-up actions and to be reported in the next session of the Parliament.

As per the Article 10 (10) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay presented the first annual report on the State of the Nation, including legislative plans, annual plans, and the government priorities, to the joint-sitting of Parliament.

The State of the Nation covered the current state of the country, challenges faced by the State, strategies to address these challenges, government plans and priorities for 2024-25, and government legislative plans for 2024-25.

 

His Majesty graces closing ceremony

His Majesty The King graced the closing ceremony of the first session of the fourth Parliament.

Speaker Lungten Dorji, on behalf of Parliament, expressed gratitude to His Majesty for gracing the Parliament session, which is testament to support to further strengthening the unique and strong democratic institution.

He also expressed that in recognition of His Majesty’s noble vision and farsighted leadership, prestigious universities in friendly countries such as India, Japan, Canada, and Thailand had conferred Honorary Doctorate Degrees in various fields.

On June 19, this year, in an elaborate ceremony at Dungkar Dzong in Pangbisa, a delegation of university presidents and executive members from seven esteemed universities in Thailand visited Bhutan to pay tribute to His Majesty The King, Lungten Dorji said.

“They recognised His Majesty’s profound contributions to the country’s reform, innovation, and development. Notably, during this event, His Majesty was honored with seven Honorary Doctorate Degrees in seven significant fields,” he added.

Coinciding with the auspicious First Day of the Male Wood Dragon Year, His Royal Highness (HRH) Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck received the Royal Charter from the sacred Machen Lhakhang in Punakha Dzong for the establishment of Gelephu Mindfulness City.

Speaker Lungten Dorji said that the ceremony showcased His Royal Highness’s natural, inborn qualities as a destined prince, as he performed prayers and offering of Marchhang with remarkable ease and confidence.

“Such remarkable qualities of HRH are a very positive indication of the success of His Majesty’s precious Gelephu Mindfulness City project and augur good fortune for the people of Bhutan under His Royal Highness’s reign in the future,” he added.

The closing ceremony concluded with the offering of Tashi Moenlam and Zhabten, invoking the blessings of longevity and well-being upon His Majesty by the members of Parliament led by Zhung Dratshang.

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