Yangchen C Rinzin

The National Council (NC) yesterday passed two Bills and three policy recommendations submitted by its committees.

The Bills tabled for adoptions that would be sent to National Assembly for deliberation in the summer session are Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of Bhutan 2020 and Entitlement and Service Conditions (Amendment) Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices of Bhutan 2020.

The three policy recommendations include review of policies related to vehicle imports, review report of legislations and strategies for addressing human trafficking and review of the programme initiatives towards improving the quality of education.


Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill of Bhutan 2020

The Bill consisting of 81 sections is a new Bill proposed by the NC. According to some of the proposed sections, Lhengye Zhungtshog shall be composed of the Prime Minister as chairperson, and ministers as members with the tenure of five years.

The Bill stated that if the National Assembly passes a two-third majority of the vote of no confidence in a member, the Chairperson shall recommend the removal of that member. “The salary, allowances, benefits, and other emoluments for a member shall be determined as per the Pay Revision Act and other relevant laws.”

The Social and Cultural Affairs Committee submitted the Bill and it also proposes that Cabinet Secretariat may recruit a maximum of three national employees outside of civil service under the Prime Minister’s Office to meet specialized manpower requirement. The government could determine the pay and allowances in consultation with Ministry of Finance and Royal Civil Service Commission.

Of the 22 NC members present, 19 voted for the adoption of the Bill and three abstained from voting.


Entitlement and Service Conditions (Amendment) Bill for the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices of Bhutan 2020

With 22 members voting for the Bill, the House adopted changes incorporated after Section 5 of the Bill, which is Section 5A, 5C, 5D and 5F.

In Section 11, it has been recommended that the salaries, allowances, benefits and other entitlements of the Holders, Members and Commissioners of Constitutional Offices shall be as per the Pay Revision Act of Bhutan.

The Bill was enacted in 2010 and amended in 2015 prior to the current amendment.


Review of Policies related to vehicle imports

The House adopted the policy recommendations that calls the government to improve coordination of the transport sector through adequate policy and legislation reforms by fast-tracking the adoption of a comprehensive National Transport Policy, amend the Road Safety and Transport Act 1999 to align with changing needs of the sector and adequate space for public transport.

It also recommends government and thromdes to address issues arising from vehicular congestion in urban areas like the requirement of parking in the buildings, no parking on public roads and improve pedestrians.

National Council member of Paro, Ugyen Tshering, said that there is also a need to improve public transport in the growing towns by implementing bus transit system, continued subsidies to improve public bus transport, and provide fiscal incentives and low-interest loans to encourage private operators to expand public transport.


Review Report of Legislations and Strategies for Addressing Human Trafficking

The committee has called the government to develop a comprehensive national policy and national action plan on combating human trafficking in Bhutan and strengthen efforts to combat Human Trafficking.

It also recommended to ensure Bhutan’s effort to combat trafficking is recorded and reported on a timely basis, and to create a central Bhutan 24/7 emergency helpline and social media contact address for victims.

With all the 22 members voting Yes, the policy recommended for sensitisation and awareness programmes and prioritise creation of job opportunities and skill training. The government should also conduct a study on feasibility of relaxing current criteria of age and qualifications as well as explore work opportunities abroad.


Review of the programme initiatives towards improving the quality of education

The House adopted six recommendations, which calls the government to expedite the expansion of access to quality ECCD programmes to attain 100 percent coverage prior to 2030.

The government should also ensure adequate financial support by revisiting the current practice of budget allocation for the primary schools, and revisit the current ranking system including linking of school performance with promotion of individuals. The report on the ranking system will be submitted to the National Council in the summer session.

It was also recommended that the government should consider reviewing the roles of Royal Education Council and Teacher Professional Standard Division (TPSD) under education ministry.

The members of the committee reported that while REC develops the professional development programmes for teachers and non-teaching staff, TPSD implements it.