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MB Subba

The National Council (NC) yesterday passed the European Investment Bank (EIB) framework agreement with 18 votes.

The agreement, which will pave the way for borrowings from the bank, will be submitted to the Druk Gyalpo for Royal Assent.

The second NC, in 2015, rejected the agreement with 13 objections. The objections were based on questions on sovereignty and infringement of national laws.

Chairperson of foreign affairs committee, Dhan Kumar Sunwar, said that the government re-negotiated the agreement with EIB and addressed most of the issues.

“The agreement has been harmonised with the provisions of Bhutan’s Constitution,” he said.

The agreement was first signed by the People’s Democratic Party government in 2014.

Dhan Kumar Sunwar said that it had become important for the country to ratify the agreement because of increased financial needs due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Introducing the agreement, Finance Minister Namgay Tshering said that Bhutan could have access to new concessional financing opportunities to meet the increasing development financing needs and also have more financing options after graduation from the group of Least Developed Countries (LDC).

However, Eminent Member Ugyen Tshering said that should there be any legal case between the government and the bank, it must be settled at Singapore International Commercial Court rather than at the International Court of Justice in The Hague, the Netherlands because of its for good services and lack of corruption.

The agreement states that legal disputes should be settled International Court of Justice in The Hague.

Members had earlier expressed concerns about the government’s plan to borrow from EIB amid burgeoning public debt.

The framework agreement was fast-tracked as urgent Bill although it was introduced as a normal Bill in the National Assembly.

According to the government, ratification of the agreement will help the country in its post-Covid-19 economic recovery efforts.

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