A bumpy road ahead
The very important bill that was passed by this session of the parliament was the motor vehicle agreement for the regulation of passenger, personal and cargo vehicular traffic between Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, and Nepal.
Signing of the BBIN agreement will promote safe, economical efficient and environmentally sound road transport in the sub-region and will further help each country in creating an institutional mechanism for regional integration. BBIN countries will be benefited by mutual cross border movement of passenger and goods for overall economic development of the region. The people of the four countries will benefit through seamless movement of goods and passenger across borders.
Many taxi drivers and truckers has shown concerned over the large numbers of vehicle entering Bhutan after it ratifies the pact and has even requested the Chairperson of the National Council to keep the matter on hold.
The other factor that is putting BBIN under scanner in Bhutan is the environment protection as one of the four pillars of Bhutan’s gross national happiness, with sustainable development, promotion of cultural values and good governance being the others.
Some of the members of the Parliament felt that given the benefit of the agreement to the country, both the present and previous government have been involved in extensive discussions leading to the signing of the agreement. Protocols will further detail out our commitments to the agreement and such protocols as per constitution will require endorsement by the parliament.
The pact as agreements will be beneficial to our country and create opportunities for similar cooperation in several fronts in future. The ratification of the agreement will further give us an opportunity to strengthen already existing close ties with the Government of India.
The members of the parliament made submissions that such steps have to be taken for closer regional cooperation and integration. It was felt that protocol could be drawn with each country as per our requirement and applicability between Bhutan and all three countries separately.
But the pact has not passed the important legislative hurdle of National Council and will be deliberated in the next session National Council, sometime in November.
However the international observers said that this is going to be a bumpy ride for Bhutan as the pact will not allow free flow of foreign vehicles into the country but regulate the cross-border movement of vehicles in the sub-region.
While certain restrictions in the pact, any other exemptions need to be ratified by all stakeholders. It is quite uncertain whether the other stake holders will agree to it or not.
So let us see how the National Council will view the pact and if with conformity then it will be a bumpy ride.