The 10th session of the National Assembly, which will begin from November 15, will see deliberation on two legislative bills – Royal Audit Bill 2017 and Tax Bill 2017.

The chairman of the National Assembly’s legislative committee, Ritu Raj Chhetri, said that although the agenda has been finalised, the House could include one more item for deliberation if there is an agreement.

The agenda was finalised by the plenary meeting convened at the Gyelyong Tshogkhang conference hall on October 24.

The Audit Bill was passed by the summer session of National Council. Tax Bill 2017 is a new Bill.

Ritu Raj Chhetri said that he would not be in a position to comment on the Tax Bill until it reaches the House.

The Audit Bill seeks to repeal the Audit Act of Bhutan 2006. The Bill confers on the audit authority enhanced powers necessary to carry out the audit without fear, favour, or prejudice.

The House will deliberate Double Taxation Avoidance Agreement between Bhutan and Bangladesh. The agreement was signed in Thimphu in April 2017 during the visit of Bangladeshi Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

The agreement is aimed at doing away with double taxation of incomes flowing between the two countries, which is expected to boost cross-border investments and trade between the two countries.

The private sector development committee will present a report on the situation of employment and healthy aging in the country.

The public accounts committee will table reports on the annual audit report 2016. The committee will also present reports on performance audit on Business Opportunity and Information Centre, employment generation, the Food Cooperation of Bhutan, and school-feeding programme, among other issues.

The House will deliberate the issue submitted from Pemagatshel’s dzongkhag tshogdu (DT) regarding the need to amend the Road Safety and Transport Authority (RSTA) Act to allow trucks to carry load more than 8 metric tons.

Ritu Raj Chhetri said that there was no agreement to table proposals for amendment of the Customs Act, the Sales Tax and Excise Act and the Income Tax Act as urgent bills.

With the last session of the parliament passing the Fiscal Incentives 2017 as Money Bill, the government said that the Acts would be tabled as urgent bills. The government’s argument was that they allow the government to grant fiscal incentives without the involvement of the parliament.

According to Legislative Rules of Procedure (LRoP), upon fulfillment of the conditions and criteria of an urgent Bill, the Speaker of the National Assembly shall declare a Bill as “urgent”. The LRoP states that a Bill shall be declared as urgent when it is required to prevent or address threats to the security and sovereignty of the country.

LRoP explains that the term “security” used in the LRoP shall cover national political, economic, and social security.

MB Subba