Saturday, July 2, 2016

A wavering Bhutanese Cabinet on framework Agreement with European Investment Bank.

I read through today's Kuensel article by Kinga Dema regarding the Parliament Deferment of Ratification of Framework Agreement between Bhutan and EIB. The Agreement was passed by National Assembly which is controlled by the ruling PDP Party and now objected to by the National Council. The differences between these two legistative bodies happen so I am not surprised. The incongruity lies in the about turn positions adopted by  the Foreign Minister and the Finance Minister of Bhutan.

The Agreement could not have been submitted for ratification to the National Assembly without  being approved by the Cabinet and for Cabinet to approve,  the two dealing  crucial Ministries of Foreign and Finance have had to vet and approve the Framework  Agreement with European Investment Bank.

Now in the face of objection from the National Council and Joint Parliament Committee proposal to defer, Bhutan's Foreign Minister who was the first Attorney General of Bhutan sings a different tune. He is quoted as stating:

a) That he was in favour of deferring the ratification because the National Council objection was not on few clauses of the Agreement but the Agreement as a whole.

b) Considering the importance of the Agreement, it would be more appropriate to do a through review by the Government and defer the agreement to another session for deliberation. 

The Finance Minister of Bhutan supported the new position of the Foreign Minister and is quoted as saying, " We will review the EIB and then take the opportunity to discuss it later ".

This demonstrates that the Cabinet of Bhutan takes account of only prevailing politics not long term national interest when it comes to signing agreements or joining international financial organisation.

It would have been in Bhutan's long term national economic and development interests  to have joined the other  Founding Members of Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) spearheaded by China. Many Eurpean Countries and India are Founding Members of AIIB. But Bhutan  played short sighted politics and refused to be a member. Instead Bhutan had  warmed up to EIB and now suddenly Bhutan  is supposed to have realised that the Framework Agreement with EIB compromises sovereignty of nation.

I do not know how or to what extent  sovereignty is affected but any membership or partnership to international Agencies or Organisation would naturally limit the national authority of a nation. There are wider international norms to adhere to. "One cannot have the cake and eat it too" is the saying that is now quoted by European Union to Britain after the BREXIT vote. And by the way the structure of EIB may get altered with the exit of Britain from the EU.

I am not saying that Bhutan should or should not ratify the Framework  Agreement with EIB. But why is Bhutanese Cabinet adopting such capricious mood swings when it comes to  national Policy on  International Agreements?  Yesterday it was for Ratifying Framework Agreement with EIB and today it is for indefinite delay. What and where is the itch. Even a bitch knows where to scratch. Can the Bhutanese Cabinet make up its mind on more sound national Policy?

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