Sixth session of the second Parliament concludes

Parliament: The declaration of three thromdes, the tourism tariff and issues in ratifying international conventions were the highlight of the sixth session of the Parliament that concluded yesterday.

His Majesty The King graced the closing session of the Parliament.

In what has been called as the first, this session saw the National Council not endorsing the ratification of the European Investment Bank agreement framework.

The Council reasoned that the framework agreement was not in consonance with the country’s external commercial borrowing guidelines and that it could undermine Bhutan’s sovereignty.

The EIB  framework agreement will go to a joint sitting in the summer session.

Another highlight of the month-long Parliament session was the, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal Motor Vehicle Agreement (BBIN MVA), which went un-ratified after the National Assembly failed to meet the required majority vote. The bill was deemed passed when confusion arose on what constituted a simple majority vote count.

The resolution had to be reviewed again after the opposition pointed out that at least 24 votes and not 22 were required to ratify the agreement. Based on a special committee’s recommendation, the Assembly deferred the agreement’s ratification to the next session.

This also led to the House to resolve that henceforth, the majority vote will be based on the total number of members of the House and not on the total number of members present in the house. Previously, all bills were passed either by a show of hands or a simple majority of members present.

A bill or an international convention requires a minimum of 24 votes to be passed or ratified.

Meanwhile, the thromde declaration was not without confusion. With accusations flying and members still confused over the voting procedures, the deliberations on thromde at the joint sitting of the Parliament failed to reach a consensus on deciding Pemagatshel’s dzongkhag and yenlag thromde (satellite town) and Paro’s yenlag thromde.

The house formed a special committee to study the proposed thromdes’ viability. Based on the committee’s recommendations, the joint sitting endorsed Betekha in Naja gewog as Paro’s yenlag thromde and Denchi and Nganglam as Pemagtshel’s dzongkhag and yenlag thromdes respectively.

The Parliament heard the appeal made by the people of Paro and as per the committee’s recommendation, it decided to table the dzongkhag thromde issue in the next joint sitting of the Parliament.

Of the four bills presented at the National Assembly, the Enterprise bill had to be withdrawn to be tabled in the next session after the National Council rejected it. The Jabmi and the Companies bill are disputed bills that would go to a joint sitting. The Customs and the Civil Aviation bills were referred to the committee for review for deliberation in the seventh session along with the amendment of the Civil and Criminal procedure code.

The National Council deliberated on the reports for tourism, hydropower and employment policies. Among them, the Council’s recommendations on tourism tariff were among the most debated, both inside and outside the house.

Meanwhile, at the closing yesterday, members of parliament from the ruling and opposition parties and the National Council expressed their appreciation to His Majesty The King for the guidance and support rendered to the people through various initiatives and kidu.

Representing the Council, Chukha’s councilor Pema Tenzin paid his gratitude to His Majesty for all the noble deeds.

“Through His Majesty’s observance, we understand leadership as one of our important national wealth. Not just ordinary leadership but one that will excel,” he said.

Pema Tenzin also said that the establishment of RIGSS to promote excellence in governance, leadership and strategic studies is one such initiative.

North Thimphu representative Kinga Tshering, on behalf of the Opposition, expressed the overwhelming joy on the announcement of the Royal Heir.

“People welcomed the news of the Royal Heir like that of their own son with so much joy,” he said.

Kinga Tshering also thanked His Majesty The King for involving the people to join and offer their prayers to His Majesty the Fourth Druk Gyalpo in commemorating His Majesty’s 60th Birth Anniversary.

“We will never be able to repay what His Majesty The Fourth King has done for the country,” he said.

Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay spoke about the gift of democracy from the throne to the kidu system for the needy people across the country under 11 broad categories.

“It has been nine years since His Majesty reigned the country contributing in the development of the country selflessly all these years,” lyonchoen said. “To pay our gratitude to His Majesty, we all must shoulder our responsibilities well to serve the King within our best capabilities.”

Kinga Dema

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