NC amends its own act, NA debates on tobacco act
The National Council on Wednesday (4 June) adopted the National Council Act Amendment Bill 2014.
The bill was discussed in the National Assembly on 27 May 2014. The Chairperson of the Legislative Committee (LC) presented the Committee’s views on the 15 amendments passed by the National Assembly.
Some of the amendments made to the act were deletion of 10 years of working experience to contest for NC seat and removal of requirement to resign to re-contest the election.
The Council unanimously decided to submit the Bill to the King. If commanded, the Bill will be re-deliberated in a joint sitting.
Earlier on the day, Economic Affairs Minister Norbu Wangchuk introduced the Trade and Economic Cooperation Agreement between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Royal Government of Bhutan and the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards.
In the previous season, the House had directed the Economic Affairs Committee (EAC) to conduct a thorough review on the agreement in consultation with relevant agencies so as to thoroughly understand agreement before a stand is taken. However, since no consultative meetings could be held on the agreement without a presentation, as recommended by the EAC, the House voted to defer the agreement until the next ession.
Similarly, National Assembly concluded the deliberation on the Tobacco Control (Amendment) Bill 2014.
The House resolved that a person shall be punishable with misdemeanor as per the Penal Code of Bhutan and pay fine equivalent to a minimum of 12 months and a maximum of 35 months of minimum wage for cultivating, harvesting, manufacturing, selling or distributing tobacco or tobacco products.
However, if a person repeats the above mentioned acts for the second time, the person shall be punishable with felony of fourth degree as per the Penal Code of Bhutan.
The permissible quantity for import of tobacco or tobacco products also drew overwhelming deliberations in the House. The Legislative Committee had proposed 900 sticks of cigarettes or 1200 sticks of bidis or 150 pieces of cigars or 750 grams of other tobacco or tobacco products per month. This was three times more than the existing permissible quantity. Members submitted that the main objective of the Act was to control tobacco and with such permissible quantity proposed by the committee, the purpose would not be met.
Others argued that the quantity should be further increased from what the committee has proposed as less permissible quantity would breed black market. The House resolved to form a committee to deliberate on the permissible quantity for import of tobacco and tobacco products which would be presented to the House before being passed.