Speaker Jigme Zangpo said in the joint sitting of Parliament yesterday that the Druk Gyalpo guided Parliament with his wise counsel. It was his last statement in Parliament as the Speaker.

“The Members of Parliament and I would like to express our deepest gratitude and reverence to His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo,” he said.

He also welcomed Her Majesty the Gyaltsuen, members of the Royal Family, representatives of the Central Monastic Body, armed forces, senior government officials and foreign dignitaries.

“His Majesty has been working tirelessly for the welfare of our people, strengthening our national sovereignty, security, economic development. His Majesty visited all 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs, personally met with the people of remote communities, and granted land kidu graciously to our people in needs,” he said.

Speaker highlights Parliament’s achievements

Highlighting Parliament’s achievements for the last five years, Speaker Jigme Zangpo said that 26 bills were deliberated, out of which, 23 bills were passed.

The Tenancy Act in 2015, Tobacco (amendment) Act 2014, Tourism Levy Exemption Act of Bhutan 2018, and Customs Act of Bhutan 2017 were some of the bills passed.

The Local Government Members’ Entitlement Act of Bhutan 2015, which ensured retirement benefits and other entitlements for elected local leaders, was one of the most significant legislation passed by the current Parliament.   

Parliament also ratified 11 international conventions although 14 were introduced.

A few of the international conventions ratified during the last five years are the agreement on avoidance of double taxation and prevention of fiscal evasion between Bhutan and Bangladesh and the multilateral agreement for the establishment of think tank for landlocked developing countries.

Parliament also ratified the renewal of the trade, commerce and transit agreement between Bhutan and India in 2016. The bilateral trade agreement expired in July 2016.

The two conventions Parliament did not ratify are the European Investment Bank Agreement and the transport agreement between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN).

During the last five years, a total of 235 days of Parliament sittings, including 62 days of joint sitting, were held, the Speaker said.

The Parliament received a total of 11 motions, 483 questions and 174 local government petitions. While most of them were deliberated in Parliament, some of them were referred to relevant agencies.

The completion of the Parliament’s term coincides with the end of the 11th Plan. The first session of the incumbent Parliament had approved a total outlay of Nu 221 billion for the five-year plan period.

While it was the 11th session for the second National Assembly, it was the 21st for the National Council. Except for the budget, both the houses of Parliament did not introduce any new bills during the session.

The tenure of the National Assembly will come to an end by the end of July.

The session was the shortest in the last 10 years and, for the first time the session passed a budget for six month. The budget outlay Nu 36 billion will be valid till December, after which a new budget must be passed.

Speaker said the foundation of good governance has been strengthened and the results of the 11th Plan, especially in the areas of economic development, agricultural produce, basic amenities and technology. Achievements in health and education were more than expected, he added.

The Parliament’s tenure saw the celebration of historic events such as the 400 years of Zhabdrung Ngawang Namgyel’s arrival in Bhutan, the 60th Birth Anniversary of the fourth Druk Gyalpo, 12 years of His Majesty’s accession as the Chhoetse Penlop, and 10 years of glorious reign of the Druk Gyalpo on the Golden Throne.  

The country also celebrated the Royal Birth of His Royal Highness the Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck during the current government’s tenure.

The Speaker thanked the Government of India and other donor countries for the continued support to the development of the country.

He described the receiving of the Dakyen as the Speaker from the Druk Gyalpo as the most unforgettable moment of his life. Thanking the people of his constituency, Mongar, Jigme Zangpo said that he was fortunate to have been elected the Speaker.

 “Today, as my term comes to an end, I affirm my continued service to our society as a true citizen till the very end of my life,” said Speaker Jigme Zangpo.

MB Subba