The 18th session will begin on November 10 and conclude on December 8

Council: One of the issues on the agenda for the up coming 18th session of the National Council (NC) will be the motor vehicle agreement among Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).

The legislative committee will present its report on the agreement, and a decision will be adopted. The Council has concluded consultations with various stakeholders on the agreement.

Speaking at the pre-session press conference yesterday, the NC deputy chairperson and spokesperson, Tshering Dorji said: “We have discussed the issues related to BBIN thoroughly.” The final report that will be presented in the NC is being prepared.

The sub-regional agreement was passed by the National Assembly in the summer session amid strong objections from the opposition and transport operators. The agreement allows for cross-border movement of vehicles within the member countries.

The NC is “mindful” of the fact that the agreement will become a law once it is passed. “NC’s decision will be in the best interest of the people,” the spokesperson said.

The 18th session of the NC will begin on November 10 and conclude on December 8.

The House will start deliberations with the follow-up on the resolution of the 17th session, a report on the National Assembly’s acceptance of the NC’s budget recommendations and issues from dzongkhag tshogdu, if any.

The agenda will include two legislative issues, six policy issues and the BBIN agreement.

The follow-up report on the resolutions of the 17th session includes recommendations on foreign workers and illegal immigration and the annual report of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), recommendations on implementation status of the Acts passed by Parliament and recommendations on Strategic Minerals passed in the 17th session of the NC.

On legislative issues, the Legislative Committee has been tasked with a review of the Customs Bill of Bhutan 2015 and the foreign affairs committee has been reviewing the Civil Aviation Bill of Bhutan 2015.

The 18th session will also deliberate on a series of policy issues which they have been working on since the last session. They are issues related to agriculture, education, teenage pregnancy and sexual harassment, architectural design, local dialects and performing arts and the public procurement system. The NC will also deliberate on the performance audit report of the Gewog Development Grant (GDG).

The deputy chairperson informed that issues forwarded by DTs or deliberations in Parliament will have to be directed specifically to the NC or Assembly looking at their relevance. He said this decision of Parliament has been communicated to local governments.

“This is to ensure that issues from the dzongkhag does not get neglected,” he said.

The education ministry also initiated a similar study and reforms programme on education of its own. The NC spokesperson said the discussion on the need to review the education system began in the 16th session.

“We are happy to know that the education ministry is doing it now,” he said. He added that the NC is doing its own independent study and the studies of the education ministry and the NC will help each other.

“The main aim is to review the education policy and make it relevant,” he said.

MB Subba