… after the 2008 session that passed the Constitution 

Tshering Palden 

The National Assembly will deliberate the Gyalsung Bill today. This is one of the historic Bills to be passed during this session.

His Majesty announced the Gyalsung national service during the 112th National Day in 2019 at Changlimithang.

The Gyalsung is envisioned as a one-year integrated training program mandatory for all youths attaining the age of 18 and if in school – upon completion of grade twelve. Its objective is to provide direction and encourage our youth to be strong, independent thinkers, capable of serving the country.

The session will also deliberate on the Civil Service Bill that proposes to amend provisions of 46 prevailing Acts as part of the major reforms. The Bill proposes to reduce the number of ministries to nine.

For instance, the National Environment Protection Act 2007 has provisions on the constitution of the National Environment Commission. The NEC is proposed in the Civil Service Bill to be placed under a new ministry.

The Parliament will also deliberate on the proposal to change the names of the ministries as the change must be approved by the Parliament. The Bill proposes reducing the number of ministries to nine. The NEC is proposed to be placed under the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change.

Likewise, institutions like Road Safety and Transport Authority and Bhutan InfoComm and Media Authority are granted authority by their Acts. Unless the provisions of these Acts are amended, the agencies cannot be merged with other ministries.

The Ministry of Education would become the Ministry of Education and Skilling if the proposal is passed.

The agenda also includes the Clean Wage Bill (pay revision), Civil Liability Bill 2022; Property Tax Bill of Bhutan 2022, Tax Bill of Bhutan 2022; and Forest and Nature Conservation Bill of Bhutan 2021.

The Joint Session will also deliberate on the few disputed sections of the Royal Bhutan Police (Amendment) Bill 2021. Furthermore, the Prime Minister’s Annual Report on the state of the nation, including legislative plans and the annual plans and priorities of the government has also been scheduled.

In his opening address to the House on November 4, Tshogpon Wangchuk Namgyel on behalf of all Members of Parliament expressed some of the selfless services of His Majesty The King for his country and the people.

He said, “His Majesty The King, on 24th August 2022, granted citizenship kidu to the families of the armed forces who had issues with their census. It has enabled them to lead a happy and peaceful life.”

He said that His Majesty has always worked towards asserting Bhutan’s position in the international arena. Among the many other activities, Bhutan started participating in the United Nations Peacekeeping in 2014 by contributing military observers with staff officers and army personnel both from army and police.

This year too, on the request of the UN, Bhutan has sent a contingent of 180 personnel from the Royal Bhutan Army to support the Multidimensional Integrated Stabilisation Mission for the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) under UN Peacekeeping. “The opportunity for the armies and police personnel to participate in UN Peacekeeping is a historic one,” he said.

With the improvement in the global pandemic situation, His Majesty The King was on a Royal tour to Phuentsholing and Samtse dzongkhag to look after the welfare and wellbeing of the people and also visited all the border entrances and checkposts. Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and Their Royal Highnesses Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel Wangchuck and Gyalsey Ugyen Wangchuck accompanied His Majesty The King during the Royal Tour. While granting audiences and meeting with the people, His Majesty reminded the people to harness the lessons and new perspectives taught by Covid-19 pandemic and to have more resilience. “I would like to urge the people to be mindful of the golden words of advice in serving the country.”

The Speaker said that His Majesty’s visits and audiences to students and faculties and reiterating the need for the students to work hard and endeavour to enhance and diversify their skills and credentials have deeply inspired the faculties and the students.

His Majesty The King, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen and His Royal Highness Gyalsey Jigme Namgyel have travelled to London to attend the State funeral of late Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. His Majesty The King also met with the Prime Minister of India and granted an audience to the Minister of External Affairs of India which the Speaker said reaffirmed the commitment and friendship that has defined the special and exemplary relations that exist between Bhutan and India.

For the benefit of the religious lamas and teachers, in particular, His Holiness the Je Khenpo is in a month-long engagement of a very rare and important oral transmission of the 24 volumes of Kuenkhyen Kabum. This is considered a very special blessing. “The Parliament would like to express our gratitude and also thank the other religious masters who have been performing numerous prayers and religious activities for the country,” the Speaker said.

He commended the government for successfully managing the challenges presented by the global pandemic. Now with the improvement of the pandemic situation in the country and in the interest of the country and the people, the border gates were opened to the public on September 23 with clear rules and regulations. He said this has greatly benefited the conduct of business and commerce including the opening of tourism.