The ninth plenary meeting of the National Council held on 28 November 2013 finalized the agenda for the second session which will begin on 22 January 2014. The agenda includes initiation of the amendment of four Acts, ratification of two conventions, six sessions of Question Time with the government and deliberations on follow-up of resolutions of the first session and issues from different constituencies. The four Acts are the National Council Act 2008, Office of Attorney General Act 2006, Tobacco Control Act 2012 and Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Act 2005. The two conventions, which were passed by the National Assembly and sent to the National Council, are Convention on Establishing the Multilateral Investment Agency and Double Tax Avoidance Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Government of Republic of India. The Legislative Committee is spearheading the review of these Acts and consultations with stake holders. Every session of the National Council hereafter, will start with deliberations on the follow-up report of resolutions of the previous session. The House Committee will review and submit the report that it receives from the Royal Government. Issues from constituencies will be submitted by members to the House Committee by 10 December 2013. This Committee will then forward those issues admitted for consideration of the National Council to other committees for further deliberations and consultations. The second session is tentatively scheduled to conclude on 18 February 2014.
May 08, 2013
The National Council Secretariat is pleased to announce that in accordance with Article 11 (1b) of the Constitution of the Kingdom of Bhutan, His Majesty the Druk Gyalpo has re-nominated the former five eminent persons as Members of the National Council vide the Royal Kasho dated 6th May, 2013. They are:
1. Hon (Dasho) Karma Yezer Raydi
2. Hon Kuenlay Tshering
3. Hon Karma Damcho Nidup
4. Hon Tashi Wangmo
5. Hon Tashi Wangyal
Further, in keeping with Article 10 (5) of the Constitution, His Majesty the King has commanded the First Sitting of the National Council to be held on 10th May 2013 vide the Royal Kasho dated 8th May, 2013
During the First Sitting, the election of the Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson will be held following which the Hon’ble Members will be administered Oath or Affirmation of Office and the elected Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson administered Oath or Affirmation of Secrecy by the Chief Justice of Bhutan.
The Hon’ble Members have been asked to report to the National Council at 9.30 am on 9th May 2013 for registration and briefing.
June 22, 2010
Sub: Question Time of the National Council
- The Question Time is an important means for the National Council to fulfill its mandate of conducting public review of policies and issues, and of ensuring transparency and accountability. Besides, it provides an opportunity to the government to explain its policies and position on certain policy decisions as well as clarify doubts that the members and the people might have on any national issue.
- The Question Time has been instituted successfully since the fourth session with the support and cooperation of the government. The National Council appreciates and values the cooperation of the government.
- On 15th June 2010, however, the Hon’ble Speaker wrote to the Hon’ble Chairperson of National Council suggesting that the participation of ministers in the National Council’s Question Time will affect the dignity of the National Assembly since there are important issues for deliberation in the National Assembly. He stated that while ministers will continue to introduce bills in the National Council, it may be better to have the ministers to answer in writing those questions that are important and related to policy issues.
- The Chairperson responded on 17th June recalling how the Question Time between the National Council and government has been successfully instituted with the kind of cooperation of the Prime Minister and other ministers. A Question Time guideline has also been mutually agreed between them in 2009. He wrote that if the ministers were not enabled to participate in the Question Time, it would affect the Parliament and not the National Assembly alone. Hence, he requested the Hon’ble Speaker to kindly permit the ministers to participate in the Question Time.
- Later, the Chairperson called on the Speaker to discuss the issue. The Speaker reiterated his view and suggested that alternative arrangements be made for minister’s participation in National Council’s Question Time particularly when the National Assembly is not sitting.
- In the present session, three ministers have already attended the Question Time when the National Assembly was not sitting. The National Council appreciates the government’s cooperation thus far in instituting the important institution of Question Time. The National Council is also hopeful that the Hon’ble Speaker will reconsider his decision and enable ministers to participate in its Question Time.
June 09, 2010
Sub: Deferment of deliberations on the Child Adoption Bill of Bhutan
Lyonpo Thakur S. Powdyel, Hon’ble Chairperson of the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) introduced the Child Adoption Bill of Bhutan 2010 in the fifth Session of the National Council. The National Council then referred the bill to its Social and Cultural Affairs Committee for in-depth review through consultations with stakeholders. The National Council requires agencies and organizations to submit bills for its consideration three months before the commencement of its session. However, it received this bill only over a month ago. Hence, the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee could not devote adequate time to study it for deliberation. This Committee was already engaged with other bills and issues such as the Tenancy Act and national housing policy, Tobacco Control Bill and the Penal Code of Bhutan (along with the Legislative Committee) and review of some important cultural practices and institutions. Thus, even the Child Care and Protection Bill referred to it at the same time as the Child Adoption Bill had to be referred to the Legislative Committee. The Committee expressed to the National Council the need for more time to examine the bill and conduct more consultations with stake holders after the introduction in the First Reading. Based on this Committee’s recommendations, the National Council will deliberate on the bill during the Second Reading in its winter session. It is optimistic that the in-depth review exercise and more stake holders consultation, which is an important aspect of the legislative process, will eventually result in an Act that upholds the provisions of our Constitution and honour our Country’s commitment to international conventions.
3rd July 09
The National Council of Bhutan would like to inform the people that it has adjourned its sitting on Friday, 3 July 2009 for the following reason: According to the agenda of the 3rd Session of the National Council, the Order of Business for the day was a Question Time with the Minister of Home & Cultural Affairs followed by deliberations on the Prison Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008 and Waste Prevention & Management Bill of the Kingdom of Bhutan 2008. The National Council Act 2008 provides for the Government to participate in the Question Time. However, the Government did not participate in the Question Time of the previous session of the National Council. Therefore, the House had passed a resolution calling upon the Government to participate in its future sessions. The non-attendance of the Minister of Home & Cultural Affairs in the Question Time today shocked the National Council. The issue is being taken up with the Hon'ble Prime Minister and the Speaker of the National Assembly. The Question Time is an important parliamentary device to question the Government on different issues. It is an essential means of realizing the objective of holding the Government accountable to Parliament. It is in this context that the National Council had to adjourn its session today in order to assess the gravity of the situation. The National Council reaffirms its commitment to uphold the democratic principles of transparency and accountability. It hopes that the Minister of Home & Cultural Affairs will uphold the law and respect the resolution of the National Council by participating in the Question Time.