The deferment of Mines and Minerals Bills of Bhutan (MMB) 2020 by the National Assembly Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel has disappointed many, especially parliamentarians.
The Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan, Athang-Thedtsho MP Kinley Wangchu, recommended that the Bill be deferred because despite meeting six times, the Joint Committee could not arrive at a consensus on the Bill.
The Members of Parliament, especially Members of the National Council were disappointed with the Speaker’s decision to defer the deliberations on the Bill without a time frame. The National Council’s Chairperson Tashi Dorji said that the Bill remains in a deadlock.
The Chairperson said, “It is disheartening that the Bill couldn’t be passed during my tenure.” The National Council questioned the constitutionality of the Speaker’s decision. “It would have been fulfilling had we deliberated on the bill as per the Constitution and for the benefit of the country and people,” the council added.
Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi, Eminent Member Tashi Wangmo, National Council Member of Gasa Dorji Khandu and Bartsham-Shongphu MP Dr Passang Dorji were against the Committee’s proposal of deferment.
The Opposition Leader said that the frequent deferment of the Bill is worrying. He said, “there is no place for deferring unless not supported by the House after Joint Committee report in a Joint Sitting.”
Eminent Member Tashi Wangmo said that it could not be endorsed in the previous session, and now it cannot be deferred.
Dramedtse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said that the MMB has been discussed for two years now and not being able to pass the Bill seems a failure on the government’s part.
However, Bji Kar Tshog Uesu MP Ugyen Tenzin said that deferment should be considered as it is for the national cause only.
The National Council Member of Chhukha Sangay Dorji said that if the Bill is endorsed now despite disagreements, there would be repercussions and it would be difficult to re-amend in future.
The members from the Joint Committee clarified the differences based on fundamental principles and Constitution despite the committee worked as per the Legislative procedure.
The MMB was introduced and passed by the National Assembly in its 2nd and 3rd Session of the Third Parliament and presented to the National Council for deliberation during its 26th Session.
However, the National Assembly during its re-deliberation on the Bill could not incorporate the amendments of the National Council. The Joint Committee on the Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan was then formed in line with the Legislative Rules of Procedure 2017 to review the disputed clauses of the Bill.
The NA Speaker declared the deferment of the Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan 2020 as per Section 59A (2) of the Legislative Rules of Procedure (LRoP) 2017. Section 59A (2) of the LRoP states: “If the Joint Committee is not able to arrive at a consensus, it shall recommend that: …(2) the speaker defer the Bill from voting and such Bill may be reintroduced in future following due legislative procedure.”