NEC to de­lin­eate the clear roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween fo­cal and im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies

Bhutan Times - - Front Page - Sonam Pen­jor

In an ef­fort to ad­dress par­tic­u­larly en­vi­ron­men­tal is­sue, Bhutan be­ing party to twelve mul­ti­lat­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal agree­ments (MEA), out of which Royal Au­dit Author­ity (RAA) has con­ducted per­for­mance au­dit on four of them.

Mul­ti­lat­eral En­vi­ron­men­tal Agree­ments be­ing legally bind­ing agree­ments amongst the states play a crit­i­cal role in the over­all frame­work of en­vi­ron­men­tal laws and con­ven­tions complementing na­tional leg­is­la­tion and bi­lat­eral and re­gional agree­ments.

The find­ing was pre­sented by the Chair­man of the Pub­lic Ac­count Com­mit­tee (PAC) and the Na­tional Coun­cil mem­ber from Zhem­gang Pema Dakpa last Thurs­day to joint sit­ting of the Par­lia­ment.

The RAA has elected four MEAs based on the rel­e­vance and im­por­tance of MEAs to Bhutan, en­vi­ron­ment risk un­der­ly­ing the con­ven­tion, avail­abil­ity of in­for­ma­tion and pub­lic in­ter­est and aware­ness on the agree­ments.

The ob­jec­tive of the au­dit was to as­cer­tain the com­pli­ances of en­vi­ron­men­tal obli­ga­tions un­der the MEAs, ad­e­quacy of ex­ist­ing com­pli­ance as­sur­ance and mon­i­tor­ing mech­a­nism in­sti­tuted at var­i­ous lev­els and sys­tem of re­port­ing to the Par­lia­ment on the progress and ac­tiv­i­ties re­lat­ing to their im­ple­men­ta­tion.

While the RAA had found out that th­ese four MEAs were ad­e­quately un­der com­pli­ance when it comes to its rules, reg­u­la­tion, man­dates and obli­ga­tions. How­ever, RAA had found out few ob­ser­va­tions which are per­ti­nent to the re­port that the Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Com­mis­sion Sec­re­tariat (NECS) has failed to take the lead role for ne­go­ti­at­ing and en­forc­ing the bi­lat­eral and mul­ti­lat­eral en­vi­ron­men­tal agree­ment as per the Na­tional En­vi­ron­men­tal Pro­tec­tion Act 2007 due to lack of ad­e­quate co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the fo­cal agen­cies and im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies.

Be­sides that, RAA had also found out that the non-com­pli­ances were no­ticed in meet­ing the obli­ga­tion un­der United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on Com­bat­ing De­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion (UNCCD) as Bhutan is yet to pre­pare a Na­tional Ac­tion Pro­gram (NAP) to com­bat de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion.

It had also found out that no biotech­nol­ogy ac­tiv­i­ties and no ar­range­ment ex­ist for safe use of biotech­nol­ogy par­tic­u­larly when 35 per­cent foods are im­ported.

While based on the find­ing, RAA made some rec­om­men­da­tion that there should be clear roles, re­spon­si­bil­i­ties and ac­count­abil­i­ties to be spec­i­fied; frame­work and cri­te­ria for se­lect­ing a fo­cal and im­ple­ment­ing agency to be de­vel­oped and also co­or­di­na­tion be­tween the fo­cal agency and the im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies to be strength­ened.

While, RAA had also rec­om­mended that sys­tem of re­port­ing to the Par­lia­ment to be in­sti­tuted; ad­e­quate stud­ies to be con­ducted prior to sign­ing or rat­i­fy­ing any MEAs and also pos­si­bil­ity of greater re­gional cor­po­ra­tion amongst SAARC and with other neigh­bor­ing coun­tries to be ex­plored.

How­ever, the PAC ob­served from the au­dit re­view re­port that two of the nine rec­om­men­da­tions were im­ple­mented, four rec­om­men­da­tions were not im­ple­mented and three rec­om­men­da­tions were par­tially im­ple­mented.

While the four MEAs which were done based on the rel­e­vancy and im­por­tance of MEAs are the United Na­tions Frame­work Con­ven­tion on Cli­mate Change (UNFCC) and its Kyoto Pro­to­col; the Vi­enna Con­ven­tion for the Pro­tec­tion of the Ozone Layer and its Mon­treal Pro­to­col; United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on Com­bat­ing de­ser­ti­fi­ca­tion and United Na­tions Con­ven­tion on Bi­o­log­i­cal Di­ver­sity (UNCBD).

Mean­while, the PAC com­mit­tee rec­om­mended that to en­hance im­ple­men­ta­tion of the com­pli­ances to the obli­ga­tions un­der MEAs, Na­tional En­vi­ron­ment Com­mis­sion Sec­re­tariat be­ing the des­ig­nated com­pe­tent author­ity and the na­tional fo­cal point should com­plete the devel­op­ment of ini­ti­ated over­all frame­work, and de­lin­eate the clear roles and re­spon­si­bil­i­ties be­tween the fo­cal and im­ple­ment­ing agen­cies by the end of year 2016.

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