The summer session of Parliament has been suspended following the announcement of the 72-hour lockdown in Thimphu on June 12.

The National Assembly secretariat has issued a notification stating that the ongoing session was suspended in compliance with the lockdown protocol and that the secretariat would update on the development of the situation.

The House today was scheduled to debate the government’s motion to regularise consolidated contract employees as regular contract employees. The motion is expected to benefit many teachers and other contract employees across the country.

The session, which began on May 27, is scheduled to conclude on June 30.

Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said that resumption of the session will depend on the Covid-19 situation as determined by the national Covid-19 task force. “We are monitoring the situation and the session can resume if the situation improves. The utmost importance at the moment is Covid-19 as there is no urgent issue,” he said.

A member of the National Council said that he hadn’t received any notification from the NC secretariat on the suspension and resumption of the session. The House of review is expected to follow the National Assembly on the resumption of the session.

A member said that the Parliament secretariat had earlier briefed them that a special arrangement would be made for the House to conduct the session in case of a lockdown.

Important Bills, including the Mines and Minerals Bill 2020 and the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bills await deliberations.

Unlike other Bills, the annual budget must be passed on time as the new fiscal year commences on July 1.

The Goods and Service Tax (Amendment) Bill 2021 should also be passed soon, as it would otherwise come into effect on July 1. The government has proposed deferring its implementation by a year as the GST software is not ready.

Officials said that the business community had also requested for deferment of the GST Act. They said that the economy was down and it could affect the private sector.

Other Bills in Parliament Bills are the Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan 2021, the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021, Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Bhutan and Bangladesh, and the Customs (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2021, among other Bills.

By MB Subba