Mines and Minerals Bill deferment disappoints many

The Chairperson of the Joint Committee on Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan, Athang_Thedtsho MP Kinley Wangchuk

Sangay Rabten

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 Wangchuk, recommended that the Mines and Minerals Bill of Bhutan 2020 be deferred in the Joint Sitting on 23 June.

The Chairperson submitted that despite holding meetings for six times, the Joint Committee could not arrive at a common consensus on the Bill.

The Members of Parliament especially Members of National Council were disappointed with the Speaker’s decision to defer the deliberations on the MMB without even speaker keeping time frame.

The National Council’s Chairperson Tashi Dorji said that the Bill remains in a deadlock with no visible solutions at near sught.

The Chairperson said that having had discussed it for so many years, the deferment decision is not fair and nobody would be satisfied. “It is disheartening that the Bill couldn’t be passed during my tenure,” he said.

The National Council also questioned the constitutionality on 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,” he added.

The Opposition Leader Dorji Wangdi, Eminent Member Tashi Wangmo, National Council Member of Gasa Dorji Khandu and Bartsham_Shongphu MP Dr Passang Dorji were also against the Committee’s proposal of deferment.

The Opposition Leader said that the frequent deferment of the Bill is worrisome. 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 also reiterated that it could not be endorsed in previous session and now it cannot be deferred.

Dramedtse-Ngatshang MP Ugyen Wangdi said that the MMB have discussed for two years and for not being able to pass the Bill seems a failure from the government.

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 having disagreement, 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 working 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.”