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Three Bills tabled for First and Second Readings

Posted on :16 November 2017

Three Bills - the Audit Bill 2017 (Private Member’s Bill), the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic  Substances and Substance Abuse (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2017 (Urgent Bill) and the Tourism Levy Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2017 (Money Bill) were tabled today for First and Second Readings.

 

The Audit Bill 2017 (Private Member’s Bill)

The Chairperson of the Legislative Committee, while introducing the Audit Bill 2017, submitted that the Audit Bill was introduced as Private Member’s Bill and passed during the 19th National Council Session and transmitted to the National Assembly. The Chairperson, introducing the Bill for First and Second Readings, submitted that it was introduced as a new bill considering the need to revise the Audit Act of Bhutan 2006 since the existing Act needed to be aligned with the Constitution, the large number of provisions that needed to be revised, and the convenience of just having to refer to one Act instead of having an amended version. Furthermore, the  need to thoroughly discuss and understand the independence in line with the Constitutional intent as well as INTOSAI (International Organization of Supreme Audit Organizations) through Lima and Mexico Declarations and subsequently through UN Resolutions for the independence of the Supreme Audit Institutions. Requisite independence will lend due credence to the Government Auditing System both in the eyes of Bhutanese society as well as international stakeholders.

 

The House supported the submission for Third Reading of the Bill and it was then referred to Legislative Committee. The Third Reading would be held on 27 November, 2017.

 

The Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic  Substances and Substance Abuse  (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2017 (Urgent Bill)  

The Chairperson of the Legislative Committee introduced the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2017 (Urgent Bill) for First and Second Readings. Introducing the Bill, he informed the House that there was a need to review and amend Section 59 of the Act wherein it is stated “The Parliament may amend the Schedules including addition, deletion of substances in the Schedule or the whole Schedule and/or quantification of any of the substances deemed to be abused or trafficked.” He submitted that a lot of people have been adversely affected due to the interpretation of this section. Furthermore, the Supreme Court, in its judgment, had allowed the Bhutan Narcotics Control Authority (BNCA) to update the list of controlled substances while the authority rests with the Parliament as per the Act.

 

The House referred the Bill to the Legislative Committee to submit its recommendations for Third Reading scheduled on 24 November, 2017.

 

The Tourism Levy Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2017 (Money Bill)

The Finance Minister introduced the Tourism Levy Exemption Bill of Bhutan 2017 (Money Bill). Presenting the general principles, he submitted that the Bill was introduced to promote tourism in the eastern circuit covering six eastern Dzongkhags with levy exemption of   USD 65 per night halt for international tourists till 2020. He said that with the launch of domestic flights to Yonphula and also the northern east-west highway being double-laned, it was timely to promote tourism in the eastern Dzongkhags.

 

After substantive deliberation on the procedures and implications of such exemptions, the Bill was referred to the Finance Committee for its study and recommendations. The Third Reading of the Bill is scheduled on 29 November, 2017.

 

Petitions from the Local Government

Submission regarding load carrying capacity for Druk Satiar Trucks

The Member from Nanong-Shumar Constituency submitted that there was a need to look into the issue of rules limiting the maximum load carrying capacity for trucks transporting gypsum not exceeding 8 tonnes. She submitted that the rules were framed in 1980s and since then the horse-power and load carrying capacity of the trucks have improved. She submitted that the rules of the Road Safety and Transportation Authority (RSTA) should be revised to allow trucks to carry load more than 8 tonnes.  

 

The communications minister clarified that, as per Section 68 of the RSTA Act 1999, it states that “A person must not drive or allow a motor vehicle to be driven on a highway if the vehicle is carrying a load which is in excess of the manufacturers’ specifications (overloaded) for that type of vehicle or it exceeds the gross vehicle weight for the vehicle.” This section provides for a vehicle to carry load as per the manufacturer's’ specifications. He clarified that the RSTA accordingly issues vehicle registration books specifying the load capacity of the vehicles.

 

After extensive deliberation, it was resolved that there was no need to review the Act as it clearly allows for vehicles to carry load as manufacturer’s specification which is in the interest of the safety of the people. Secondly, the House decided that there was need for the RSTA officials to carry out awareness and give information regarding the rules and regulations with regard to carrying load. The Speaker also pointed out that as submitted by the Communications Minister, the Ministry was in the process of comprehensively reviewing the Act as approved by the Cabinet and carrying out public consultations which would benefit the people.

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