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3rd sitting of National council

Posted on :30 November 2021

The Foreign Minister His Excellency Dr. Tandi Dorji introduced the United Nations Convention Against Corruption (UNCAC) to the House today. Following the introduction and responses to clarifications and concerns raised by the Hon’ble members, Hon’ble Member Ugyen Tshering, Chairperson of Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) presented the review report done by the Committee to the house.

Highlighting the context and background of the UNCAC, Lyonpo Dr. Tandi Dorji reported that the Parliament ratified UNCAC with reservation on paragraph 2 of Articles 66 in 2015. He said that his Ministry failed to register the reservation inspite of the attempt to register in 2016, 2017 and 2018, due to late submission of the reservations endorsed by the Parliament. His Excellency also explained the remedy and its implication in order to correct the lapse. He also said  that the National Assembly in its 5th session of the 3rd Parliament has opted to ratify the convention by revoking the Parliament’s earlier reservation. He added that denunciation and re-acceding to UNCAC with reservation is allowed, however, there will be negative impact on the activities carried out by Bhutan.

Expressing their concerns, the Hon’ble Members sought clarification from the Hon’ble Minister on the reasons for the late reservations by the Ministry despite Parliament having adopted the convention in its earlier session. And to rule-out setting such precedents in the future, the Members suggested having a procedure in place. They also suggested that concerned authorities and officials be held accountable for the failure on their part and the Members also sought clarification on financial implication amongst others.

Subsequently, the Chairperson of the Economic Affairs Committee, Hon’ble Ugyen Tshering presented the Review Report of UNCAC to the House with the recommendation to revoke the earlier reservation of the Parliament to the Article 66 (2) of UNCAC.

He reported that the Committee was assigned by the House to carry out the review work in the last session. Reiterating on the background of the Convention, he said that UNCAC is the only binding legal international instrument against corruption.  He further presented the committee findings and the recommendation to the House.

Most of the members suggested that there is a need to further deliberate and clarify on the procedural lapses by concerned authorities on the late reservation. And a need to sort out issues with the relevant stakeholders before ratifying the Convention.

The House assigned the EAC and the concerned Members to hold a meeting with relevant stakeholders in order to resolve the issues highlighted by the members in the House. The Committee was also asked to present the final review report and the recommendation to the House for ratification.

The Legislative Committee presented the review report on consolidation, repeal, and publication of legislation along with five recommendations to the House.

Hon’ble Member Phuntsho Rapten, Chairperson of the Legislative Committee presented the Review Report on Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislations.

Briefly highlighting the background, he said that as per the directive from the house, the Committee is presenting the report with the view to generate debates and create public awareness about the issue that concerns the lives of Bhutanese citizens every single day. He said in reviewing the issue the committee referred the legal sources combined with consultations of stakeholders as research methodology.

The Hon’ble Member Choining Dorji, LC member presented the observations of the committee which includes the volume and complexity; multiple laws on single subject matter; unnecessary and irrelevant laws; and incomplete legal sources.  He reported that only the National Law Review Task Force has made the effort and came up with a number of recommendations aimed at “harmonizing and consolidating” various laws but they remain unimplemented thus far. He said that the report focuses on the changes that can be made to existing laws via codification, consolidation, repeal and publication of laws.

The Hon’ble Member further submitted the recommendations of the Committee. The recommendations include codifying laws; consolidate laws; repeal obsolete laws; establish an official gazette; and the Government and the Parliament to consider the National Law Review Task Force’s report.

Tomorrow, The House will continue with the deliberations on the review report on Consolidation, Repeal and Publication of Legislations followed by presentation and deliberations on the review report on State Owned Enterprises, introduction of Anti-Corruption Commission’s Annual Report 2020-21 and Question Time with Minister of Agriculture and Forest in the Afternoon.

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