Cus­toms Bill passed in joint sit­ting

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Dechen Dolkar from Thim­phu

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.

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