Bhutan hopeful of convincing its Nat’l Council on BBIN merits

20 Nov,2016


Dhaka, BdChronicle:

Though Bhutan’s upper house has rejected a government bill to ratify Bangladesh, Bhutan, India and Nepal (BBIN) Motor Vehicles Agreement, the Bhutanese government is still hopeful of convincing its National Council about the BBIN merits.

Bhutanese Foreign Minister Damcho Dorji had to spend over an hour in the National Council session to explain the merits of the BBIN, a regional transport corridor, but the House rejected it on Tuesday.

On Saturday, Bhutanese Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, however, said he accepts and respects the wisdom of the House of Review but expressed his hope that the National Assembly (NA) and National Council (NC) members can sit together and discuss it further, reports Kuensel, a leading media outlet of Bhutan.

There were two separate reports on each councillor’s desk based on which they had to decide either for or against the agreement -- one from the government and another from the NC’s legislative committee, the Kuensel report says.

The government’s report argued in favour of the agreement, while the committee’s report called for voting against it, the report reads.

However, the agreement received only five votes in favour, while 13 voted ‘No’. It was just the number of ‘Yes’ votes required for having the agreement passed. Five abstained from voting.

Chairman of the legislative committee Sonam Wangchuk said the demerits of the agreement outweigh the benefits. The committee also found the agreement in conflict with national laws such as the immigration Act.

Sonam Wangchuk reported that the agreement could affect the country’s culture, religion and economy and even pose security risks.  “There’s a risk that a lot of people would enter Bhutan and we would not know what purposes some of them would come for,” Kuensel report quoted him as saying.

On June 15, 2015, the BBIN Transport Ministers signed the BBIN Motor Vehicles Agreement, which is seen as a ‘milestone’ in sub-regional cooperation.

On November 13, Indian High Commissioner Harsh Vardhan Shringla said the agreement would facilitate seamless movement of people and goods across the four countries and contribute to the region’s economic development and integration.

He mentioned that the trial run of cargo truck movement between Dhaka and Delhi under the BBIN MVA was completed successfully in August 2016.

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