Na­tional Coun­cil re­jects BBIN

Business Bhutan - - Flash -

The Na­tional Coun­cil (NC) re­jected the Bangladesh, Bhutan, In­dia and Nepal (BBIN) trade agree­ment on Novem­ber 15 dur­ing the on­go­ing win­ter ses­sion, stat­ing that the agree­ment will not generate sig­nif­i­cant and tan­gi­ble ben­e­fits to Bhutan.

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the mem­ber-in-charge of BBIN, For­eign Af­fairs Min­is­ter, Dam­cho Dorji, Bhutan will miss an im­por­tant op­por­tu­nity to not only be an ac­tive mem­ber of BBIN but also the eco­nomic ben­e­fits of re­gional co­op­er­a­tion if the agree­ment is not passed by the NC.

Al­though pre­vi­ously ap­proved by the Na­tional Assem­bly, BBIN mo­tor ve­hi­cle agree­ment, which is ex­pected to ease the rules and pro­ce­dures for ve­hi­cles from th­ese four coun­tries while en­ter­ing into each other’s ter­ri­tory and re­move ob­sta­cles to in­tra-re­gional trans­port and trade, was re­jected by the NC as it pointed out that the de­mer­its of the BBIN agree­ment out-weighed its mer­its.

Ac­cord­ing to the Chair­per­son of the Leg­isla­tive Com­mit­tee, Sonam Wangchuk, BBIN agree­ment could af­fect the coun­try’s cul­ture, re­li­gion and econ­omy and even pose se­cu­rity risks. How­ever, Ly­onpo Dam­cho Dorji said BBIN is not just about mo­tor ve­hi­cle agree­ments. “It is the pre­cur­sor to a lot of other bi­lat­eral co­op­er­a­tion in the fields of con­nec­tiv­ity, en­ergy, trade, ICT, trans­port, etc, which will be of im­mense ben­e­fit to Bhutan,” he said.

Ly­onpo Dam­cho Dorji said the gov­ern­ment would con­tinue to work on the agree­ment so as to get it passed by the NC for which more time will be required.

The NC voted on the Agree­ment fol­low­ing thor­ough de­lib­er­a­tions after its Leg­isla­tive Com­mit­tee pointed out its gen­eral as well as spe­cific reser­va­tions on the Agree­ment. Of the 20 mem­bers present and vot­ing, two mem­bers voted Yes, 13 voted No and five ab­stained from vot­ing.

Dur­ing the ses­sion, the NC pointed out that the coun­try does not have space to ac­com­mo­date heavy ve­hi­cles in Phuentshol­ing town and the gov­ern­ment has not come up with plans to ac­com­mo­date the ex­ist­ing num­ber of heavy ve­hi­cles within the coun­try.

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