Inviting questions

The 10th and final session of the 1st Parliament got underway last Friday. During this session, the National Assembly will discuss just two bills: Contract Bill of Bhutan, and Alternate Dispute Resolution Bill. In addition, the National Assembly will consider the National Council’s comments on Road Bill and Domestic Violence Prevention Bill which were adopted by the Assembly in the 9th session. The Disaster Management Bill will be discussed in a joint sitting to iron out differences between the two houses.

Question Hour, when MPs get to question the government, are held on Tuesdays and Fridays. I’ve prepared some questions, but I’d like to hear from you as well. What question(s) would you like to ask? And to whom would you like them directed ? I’ll try to incorporate as many of your questions as possible in the opposition party’s questions.

Inviting issues

The eighth session of the Parliament will start on 4th January. Here are the bills the National Assembly will discuss:

  • Tobacco Control ( Amendment) Bill 2011
  • Druk Gyalpo’s Relief Fund Bill 2011
  • Disaster Management Bill of Bhutan 2011
  • Education City Bill of Bhutan 2011

And here are the bills that the National Assembly and the National Council will discuss in a joint sitting to resolve differences between the two Houses.

  • Child Adoption Bill of Bhutan 2011
  • Sales Tax, Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2011
  • Public Finance (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2011
  • Election (Amendment) Bill of Bhutan 2011

The bills can be downloaded from the NC and NA websites. Please give me your feedback.

Also, please give me your suggestions on issues that I should consider raising with the government. I’ll raise them during question hour, or, depending on the nature of the issue, propose them as motions.

Totally redundant

Yesterday, the National Assembly passed the Sales Tax, Customs and Excise (Amendment) Bill, and the Public Finance (Amendment) Bill. The two of us in the opposition party had argued that the bills would violate the Constitution, and, in the end, only the two of us voted against the bills.

The two amendments could allow the government to impose and raise taxes without having to seek the Parliament’s approval.

The bills will now be forwarded to the National Council, who will discuss them in the next session. If they pass the bills, the amendments will come into effect. If not, the bills will be submitted to a joint sitting of the Parliament.

Now here’s the strange part: the government’s legislative maneuvering is totally redundant.

Why? Because the Supreme Court will soon consider the first constitutional case, and rule whether or not the Constitution permits the government to impose taxes without fist passing it through the Parliament.

If the Supreme Court rules that the Constitution does, indeed, empower the government to impose and revise taxes without the Parliament’s approval, it would have been unnecessary to amend the existing laws in such a hurry.

But if the Supreme Court rules that, according to the Constitution, the government must seek Parliament’s approval before imposing and revising taxes, the amendments that the National Assembly passed yesterday would automatically become null and void.

The Supreme Court is the guardian of the Constitution and the final authority on its interpretation. We should have let them do their job, instead of jumping the gun, and becoming redundant.

Parliament’s fifth session

The National Assembly has announced that the fifth session of the Parliament will begin on 28th May. That’s in about three weeks.

But, I still don’t know what will be discussed. And I still haven’t received the bills, if any, that will be introduced in the fifth session. So I’m at a loss about how to prepare for the Parliament’s imminent session.

It appears that the government has recently submitted four bills to the National Assembly. They are the Childcare and Protection Bill; the Child Adoption Bill; Water Bill; and the Financial Services Bill. The first three are on the National Assembly’s website.

I’m assuming that these bills will be introduced in the National Assembly’s fifth session. So please send me your comments.