The upper house of the parliament this week made some crucial decisions on various legislative affairs on key issues concerning the nation.
The House adopted important bills like the Biological Corridor Nine Bill of Bhutan 2023, Bay of Bengal Initiatives for Multi-Sectoral Technical and Economic Cooperation (BIMSTEC) Charter, Agreement on Transit-in-Traffic between the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Royal Government of Bhutan, Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, and Anti-Corruption’s Annual Report 2022-2023.
On the Biological Corridor Nine Bill of Bhutan 2023, members of the House recommended seeking to foster consistency in regulations governing all biological corridors. To achieve this, sections 5, 13, 14, and certain sub-sections of 18 have been recommended for removal. This step is taken to enhance the coherence of policies related to preserving Bhutan’s rich biodiversity.
The BIMSTEC Charter aims to foster collaboration and economic cooperation among nations in the Bay of Bengal region. It will now be submitted to His Majesty The King for Royal Assent, emphasizing the nation’s commitment to regional development and cooperation.
The Agreement on Transit-in-Traffic between the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and the Royal Government of Bhutan which is to facilitate smooth transit of goods and people between Bhutan and Bangladesh is a pivotal move. This agreement will also be submitted to His Majesty The King for Royal Assent.
The Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities underscores Bhutan’s commitment to ensuring the rights and welfare of persons with disabilities. The convention will also be presented to His Majesty The King for Royal Assent, affirming Bhutan’s dedication to inclusivity and human rights.
According to the chairperson of the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee, Tshering Tshomo, the convention not only guarantees equal rights to education, healthcare, and other services for individuals with disabilities but also enhances relationships with member countries of the United Nations.
The chairperson stated that the adoption of the convention would enable those with disabilities to gain access to fundamental rights, including economic independence, civil and political rights, as well as adequate healthcare and education.
Amongst others, the House reviewed and approved Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) Annual Report 2022-2023, signifying a commitment to transparency and accountability within the government. The report, along with four recommendations to strengthen anti-corruption efforts in Bhutan will be forwarded to relevant agencies for implementation, reinforcing Bhutan’s stance against corruption.
The first recommendation emphasizes the importance of creating awareness at the grassroots level to combat corruption effectively. This approach acknowledges the need for involving and educating citizens throughout the nation in the fight against corruption.
The second recommendation highlights the pivotal role of the media in combating corruption. It stresses the importance of media engagement to sustain ongoing efforts against corruption, as the media serves as a valuable tool for transparency and accountability.
Addressing concerns about potential risks to the autonomy of the ACC is the third recommendation, ensuring that the ACC operates independently and without interference is crucial for its effectiveness in combating corruption.
The fourth recommendation focuses on the need for the finance ministry and the ACC to collaborate in exploring optimal budget allocation methods. This cooperation aims to secure sustainable financial support for the ACC, enabling it to continue its anti-corruption efforts.
These recommendations, if implemented, will contribute to strengthening the fight against corruption in Bhutan, promoting awareness, preserving autonomy, securing necessary resources, and addressing institutional challenges effectively.
This parliamentary session, according to the Members, reflected the nation’s dedication to enhancing its legislative framework, ensuring inclusivity, and pursuing transparency and accountability. With key bills adopted and awaiting Royal Assent, Bhutan continues to advance on its path towards a prosperous and just society.
The 32nd Session of National Council concluded on October 19.
Sangay Rabten from Thimphu