Customs Bill passed in joint sitting
The joint sitting of parliament passed the Customs Bill 2017 after all 69 members present voted in favor of the Bill on Thursday.
Deliberations were held on five disputed clauses between the two Houses upon the grant of Royal Kasho which was read out to the House by the Secretary General of the National Assembly (NA), Sangay Duba. The recommendations on the five clauses were presented to the House by Member of Parliament from Lamgong-Wangchag constituency, Khandu Wangchuk, who is also the Chairperson for the joint committee on the Customs Bill.
The committee recommended retaining section 30 which states that customs duty rates and revisions thereof on goods would be approved by the parliament. Under section 46 the committee recommended that the customs duty would not be levied on goods imported into Bhutan in accordance with bilateral or multilateral trade agreements signed by the government of Bhutan.
With regard to expenses relating to detention or seizure of goods, the committee decided to repeal section 48(3) and retain section 154 which states that if the appeal is unsuccessful, the appellant would be liable to pay the disputed amount with penal interest of 24% per annum of fraction.
The house approved the four clauses and while new section after 181 was held which pertains to allowance benefits and other emoluments for customs personnel working in the field. The joint committee recommended for the removal of the new section which states that the customs personnel working in the field shall be entitled to salary based lump-sum allowances and other benefits on the approval of the government as per recommendation of the Pay Commission.
National Council (NC) member from Tsirang, Kamal Bahadur Gurung, expressed that it was important for the house to be aware of why the new clause was removed from the Bill. Clarifying on the query, the Chairperson of the joint committee, Khandu Wangchuk, mentioned that allowances and benefits ultimately depended on the recommendation of the Pay Commission as per the Constitution and thus a separate provision was not required in the Bill. He also said that the government would always consider granting of allowances and benefits wherever required and having such provision in the law would only affect the functions of the government in future. The House consequently endorsed to remove the new clause from the Bill.
The Customs Bill was first deliberated in the National Assembly during the seventh session and was transferred to the NC with 75 amended clauses out of the total 203 clauses. The NC subsequently deliberated on the Bill during its last session and further amended a total of 32 clauses and returned the Bill to the assembly. As a result, only five clauses remained disputed between the two Houses which were endorsed on Thursday.