Yangchen C Rinzin 

The members of the National Assembly urged to have an Act for persons with disabilities (PWDs) instead of the policy after a report on the National Policy for Persons with Disabilities 2019 was presented to the House yesterday. 

Members said that if there is an Act, it would ensure that PWDs’ policy is implemented because Act is necessary to implement any policy. 

However, Prime Minister Dr Lotay Tshering said that instead of enacting Act, they would first implement the policy for PWDs, which is necessary right now. 

“If we face issues, as the implementation proceeds we can look into pros and cons, but first let us implement the policy,” Lyonchhen said. “If necessary then we can look into enacting an Act but it is not necessary right now.”

Lyonchhen assured that implementation of the policy has been taken care of as it is reflected in the policy. According to the policy, an action plan would be developed to implement it with clear timelines, indicators, targets, baselines, lead and collaborating agencies. 

The policy will also have short-term, long-term and medium-term actions. 

As a follow up on the resolution of the second session of the third Parliament, labour and human resources minister Ugyen Dorji presented the report on the policy. The policy was endorsed by the Cabinet and launched on December 3 last year. 

Lyonpo Ugyen Dorji said that as per the report 2.1 percent of the population in the country have some form of disability. The scope of the policy is to cover all PWDs, their caregivers, and service provider and empower PWDs living in an inclusive society. 

Lyonpo said that the policy would promote participation in election and decision making process through inclusive forums, venues and facilities. 

The policy would intervene to provide inclusive education through accessible infrastructures, relevant curriculum and services, healthcare, economic security by developing vocational and entrepreneurial skills, and support caregivers, families and communities by providing financial benefits, among many. 

The policy would also ensure access to new or existing infrastructure and public transport facilities, and participation in cultural, recreational and sports activities. 

Meanwhile, some of the members said that the policy should have also looked into having medical or life insurance for PWDs, job opportunities designed for them based on their talents, separate loan accessibility to take up business opportunity, and support for professional teachers or trainers. 

Members also questioned on policy’s provision to help PWDs who have not had an opportunity to study or have remained at home for life. Some said that the policy was not clear on the plans to create awareness.

Khamaed Lunana Members of Parliament Yeshey Dem said that not everyone is born as disabled, however, people become disabled owing to accidents in life. “Will the policy cover them? The policy should also have looked into how to help PWDs after graduation as there are fewer job opportunities.”