… including civil service reform and clean wage Bills 

Thinley Namgay   

The 30th Session of the National Council (NC) of Bhutan which commences today and concludes on December 5 will deliberate and adopt eight bills.

The agenda includes the Civil Service Reform (CSR) Bill of Bhutan 2022, the Forest and Nature Conservation Bill of Bhutan 2021, and the United Nations Convention Against Transnational Organised Crime (UNTOC) protocol to prevent, suppress and punish trafficking in Persons (TIP), especially women and children.

The Civil Liability Bill of Bhutan 2022 and the Anti-Corruption Commission’s annual report 2021-2022 will be also deliberated.

The other three are money bills: the Property Tax Bill, Tax Bill, and the Clean Wage (Pay Revision) Bill of Bhutan 2022.

At a press conference yesterday, NC’s Deputy Chairperson Jigme Wangchuk said, “The CSR Bill is regarded as an urgent bill owing to the ongoing civil service reforms in the country. The Legislative Committee has looked into it.”

He said the Bill is paramount for the country and the NC will deliberate cautiously with the mandate of proper checks and balance to ensure long-term benefit.

As per the procedure, any bill to be discussed in the parliament has to be submitted three months ahead of the session. However, NC members said that RCSC didn’t do it.

NC members said that people are worried about this CSR Bill and the parliament has a crucial role to play. Members said that if the clauses are not clear and pragmatic, they will deliberate with due process.

About the UNTOC protocol, Mongar NC candidate Sonam Pelzom said that Bhutan is yet to be a member of the UNTOC. She said that 190 countries are members of UNTOC so far.

Sonam Pelzom said that if Bhutan becomes a member of UNTOC, it would benefit the country to repatriate criminals from other countries and also prevent corruption, among others.

Meanwhile, the Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan will not be discussed in this session due to disagreements between NC and National Assembly (NA). It was deferred by the Speaker.

Deputy Chairperson Jigme Wangchuk said that even after establishing a joint committee to reach a consensus on the Bill, it didn’t work.  NC members said that even if the NC discusses the Mines and Minerals Bill this time, it is of no use if the NA disagrees.

The joint sitting from December 5 will deliberate on the report of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) on performance audit report on the farm road development and management, and the report of the PAC on performance audit report on the safe and sustainable road transport system.

The joint sitting will also discuss the disputed clauses in the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021 and the Prime Minister’s annual report on the State of the nation, including legislative and the annual plans and priorities of the government.