Upcoming session of NA prepares to introduce key bills



As the National Assembly (NA) prepares for its forthcoming session, several critical bills are poised for introduction and debate. These legislative measures are vital for the country’s governance, fiscal management, and international relations, reflecting the Assembly’s commitment to upholding the Constitution and promoting national development.

One of the foremost bills to be introduced is the Budget Appropriation Bill for the fiscal year 2024-2025. This bill is a constitutional requirement, as stipulated in Article 13 regarding passing bills and Article 14 about Finance, Trade, and Commerce.

The approval of the annual budget is essential for ensuring the smooth functioning of government operations and the implementation of developmental projects. In addition to the main budget bill, the assembly will also consider the supplementary budget appropriation bill for 2023-2024.

This bill is also mandated by the constitution, reinforcing the importance of fiscal accountability and transparency in managing the nation’s finances. These budgetary measures are critical in addressing any fiscal discrepancies that may have arisen during the current financial year and in ensuring that allocated funds are used efficiently.

In matters of international relations, the Air Service Agreement between the Royal Government of Bhutan and the State of Kuwait will be brought before the Assembly. According to Article 9 (25) of the Constitution, such international agreements must undergo the legislative process for ratification by parliament, ensuring that all treaties and conventions align with national interests and legal standards, thereby strengthening Bhutan’s diplomatic and economic ties with other nations.

A significant piece of legislation on the agenda is the Impeachment Procedure Bill 2024. This bill is required by Article 32 of the Constitution, which outlines the process for removing holders of constitutional offices through impeachment by Parliament.

Article 32 (1) states, ‘‘The holders of constitutional offices shall be removed only by way of impeachment by parliament’’. Furthermore, Article 32 (5) mandates that ‘‘The procedure for impeachment, incorporating the principles of natural justice shall be as laid down by law. This bill is based on the recommendation from the National Law Review Task Force, which highlighted the necessity of such legislation.

The impeachment Procedure Bill aims to establish a robust system of checks and balances to prevent abuse of power while maintaining the independence and accountability of constitutional officeholders. This should not be misconstrued as targeting any specific individuals or groups. The parliament is fulfilling its constitution, and striving to meet its requirements and noble intent.

Bhutan has established a vibrant Constitution to guarantee the freedom and rights of its citizens through the rule of law. To achieve this, the Constitution grants significant powers to its officeholders, allowing them independence in their decisions and actions. These offices represent public trust, accountability, and honor. However, the holders of constitutional offices must be accountable and may not abuse their power.

Moreover, the assembly will consider the NA (Amendment) Bill 2024. This amendment seeks to enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of the nation’s highest decision-making body. Given the rapidly changing global landscape, legislative tools and processes must evolve accordingly, ensuring that Bhutan remains adaptable and resilient.

Regarding fiscal policy, the upcoming budget is expected to primarily focus on rejuvenating the economy, creating jobs, enhancing infrastructure, and supporting farmers. Although the budget bill has not yet reached parliament, preliminary views suggest that addressing major economic challenges will involve increasing investment in crucial sectors, reforming fiscal policies, bolstering social safety nets, advancing infrastructure projects, and supporting small and medium enterprises and farmers.

These strategies aim to foster sustainable growth, reduce unemployment, and strengthen the country’s economic foundation. The government has also undertaken significant policy review activities. Eight standing committees were established on the first day of the current parliamentary term.

Within three months, there have been four full house plenary sessions and twelve House Committee sittings, setting a new record. These committees are actively engaged in reviewing policies and laws, having convened multiple stakeholder consultations to ensure comprehensive and inclusive legislative reform.

The NA convened its preliminary meeting to review agenda items for the first session of the fourth parliament, set to commence on 9 June 2024. The Prime Minister will present the State of the Nation report, outlining legislative plans and governmental priorities, during a joint sitting of parliament.

The Public Accounts Committee will submit its review of the Annual Audit Reports for 2022-2023 and 2010-2022. Key motions will address inconsistencies in the Pay Structure Reform Act, 2022, resource shortages in local governments, water management, and insurance systems.

Related Posts

About The Author