NC intends to uphold constitution as MMB rift widens

Eminent Member Phuntsho Rapten said the disagreement between the two Houses is on the fundamental principles.

Sangay Rabten

The National Council in its stance says that the Council will stick with the Constitution while deliberating on the disputed clauses of the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill in the joint sitting next week.

The rift between the two Houses that led to dispute over the Bills was clarified by Members of National Council during the press conference on Friday.

Eminent Member Phuntsho Rapten said the disagreement between the two Houses is on the fundamental principles.

Clarifying the fundamental differences, member of the Economic Affairs Committee, Eminent Member Dasho Tashi Wangyel, said the intention of National Council is to uphold the Constitution.

He said that Article 1.12 of the Constitution states that the rights over the mineral resources, rivers, lakes and forest shall vest in the state, and are the properties of the state, which shall be regulated by the law. 

Eminent Member Phuntsho Rapten said that the contention over the bill is that the National Assembly supports the state’s rights over strategic mines and leaving non-strategic mines open to the private sector. On the other hand the National Council wants the state mining corporation or state-owned enterprises to run all the mines.

He said that the new Bill will help in narrowing the gap between rich and poor.

Dasho Tashi Wangyel said, “With no proper framework of legal policy, we cannot let to have concentration of wealth in the hands of few”.  He said that if new Bill is not enacted, all the private certificate holders cannot participate to run the mining business given that it require huge capital investment.

Hence he said it is important that strategic mines should be owned by State Owned Enterprises (SOEs) where as non-strategic mines can be run by private sector.

The Members also pointed that there had been huge losses to the country as per report of Royal Audit Authority for having had let the private sector to run the mines and minerals business.

Eminent Member Phuntsho Rapten added that surface mines can be given to private sectors like sands, quarries and boulders base on open competition. “For strategic mines, SOEs can hire the machineries from private sector,” the member added.

Member of National Council of Chhukha, Sangay Dorji, said that the National Council’s objective of sticking to the Constitution while to pass the Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill is to benefit for long run in equal distribution of wealth. 

Meanwhile, the Chairperson of National Council Tashi Dorji said that the objective of the Upper House is not that it is not in support of private sector but sticking with the Constitution and going in line with the definition of strategic and non-strategic mines. 

The Joint Committee of Economic Affairs will present review report of Mines and Minerals Amendment Bill in the joint sitting next week.