MB Subba 

Unlike in the past sessions, the summer session of Parliament did not receive any issues from local governments, according to National Assembly members.

The session, which is scheduled to begin on June 2, will last for a little more than a month, according to a press release from the National Assembly secretariat.

The House held its pre-session plenary on May 16 to set the agenda.

According to the press release, the session will deliberate five new bills including Fiscal Incentives (amendment) Bill, Concession of Property Tax Bill and the annual budget 2022-23.

Although the details were not available, the money Bills are being introduced at a time when the tax revenue had decreased by almost 24 percent in the past three years, according to official data.

The recent tax reforms, which basically involved reducing rates, have also contributed to the decline to a large extent, a closer look at official data shows.

The overall losses in taxes through the reductions were estimated at Nu 850 million (M) annually.

The session is also expected to amend the Goods and Services Tax (GST) Act, which was supposed to be implemented from July.

However, the government has said that the GST software that was being developed by the Thimphu TechPark and a foreign consultant had to be scrapped.

Among other issues, joint sittings will deliberate the disputed provisions of the Anti-Corruption Commission (amendment) Bill and the Civil Society Organisations (amendment) Bill.

One of the major disputes in the anti-corruption (amendment) Bill is on whether or not to give human resource (HR) independence to the ACC.

While the joint committee on the Bill has agreed to provide HR independence to the commission, the joint sitting needs to endorse the joint committee’s recommendation.

The commission in its annual reports has repeatedly asked for HR independence, stating that the HR gap could not be fulfilled under Royal Civil Service Commission.

One of the main disputes in the CSO (amendment) Bill is whether the home secretary or the home minister should be the chairperson of the CSO Authority.

The session will also deliberate the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime (UNTOC) Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children (TIP Protocol).

The international instrument, which was passed by the UN General Assembly in 2000, is an instrument designed to fight transnational organised crimes in the world.

The session will also deliberate motions, according to the House secretariat.

Meanwhile, some members said that local governments might have lost interest in submitting issues to Parliament as most of the issues submitted in the past were not discussed in Parliament.

A local leader said that a lot of efforts were required to submit issues to Parliament. “Hardly any of the issues submitted by us were discussed in Parliament,” he said.

According to the government, however, most of the issues that come from local governments needed to be dealt with by the executive and are forwarded to relevant ministries.

According to a source, some members of the ruling party thought that deliberation of such issues in Parliament could amount to encroachment on executive functions.