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Bhutan planning to save BBIN bill from getting scrapped

By PTI Updated: May 01, 2017 10:05 pm

Thimphu, May 1 (PTI): Bhutan plans to move a motion to withdraw a controversial motor vehicle agreement involving Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) during a joint sitting of the Parliament next month in a bid to save the accord from getting scrapped.
The decision to move the motion comes days after Bhutan announced that it would not be able to ratify the BBIN motor vehicles agreement for the time being and asked the other stakeholders to go ahead with the plan without Thimphu.
The Bhutan government wants to withdraw the BBIN agreement from the voting process. The fact that the government is determined to ratify the agreement even on a later date indicates that it is not ready to scrap the pact, Kuensel online reported.The agreement, however, needs a two-third majority of the lawmakers present in the house for the ratification.
Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay earlier said due process would be followed if the agreement would be withdrawn.
However, the government’s effort to withdraw the agreement that is already with the joint committee may be met with resistance as the Legislative Rules of Procedure (LROP) 2011 do not have provisions for withdrawal of a disputed bill.
National Council deputy chairperson Tshering Dorji said he respects the plurality of views on the issue.
“It is too late to withdraw the bill,” Dorji had said. If the bill fails to obtain the endorsement of the lawmakers, it will be declared a dead bill and no bill of the same substance will be deliberated in the same year.
Lawmaker Ritu Raj Chhetri was quoted in the report as saying that the government intends to withdraw the agreement but the committee had not taken any decision to that effect as of yesterday.
The withdrawal also breaches an article of the Constitution.
The Council believes that ratifying the agreement, which aims to facilitate seamless cross-border movement of both cargo and passenger vehicles, will overwhelm Bhutan, the smallest country in the grouping.
The Opposition also argues that it will affect the livelihoods of Bhutanese transport operators.
The Bhutan government has repeatedly stated that the agreement does not open the floodgates for foreign vehicles. However, the Council remains unconvinced because of the principle of reciprocity the agreement upholds.
The transport ministers of the four countries signed the agreement in June, 2015 here.

By PTI Updated: May 01, 2017 10:05:02 pm