A bumpy road ahead

Bhutan Times - - Editorial -

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.

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