For any democratic regime, consultation and inclusion of people’s views are considered as the yardstick to measure its representativeness and pluralism. So it is for Bhutan. In spite of growing institutions and public spaces in our fledgling democracy, consultations in legislation and policy formulation seem minimal. Very recently, the Minister for Economic Affairs attended WTO Conference in Bali, Indonesia. Attempts to consult people were made by sharing post in social media to gather views on Bhutan’s possible membership to the WTO whereby urban literate got to express their stand. But what about those chunk of rural illiterate and the future of small cottage industries and many more?
If Bhutan is to join WTO, all stakeholders’ views need to be taken like that of ongoing presentation of Right to Information (RTI) Bill. The recent panel discussion on possible WTO accession in Broadcast Media (BBS) is good start for consultation and gathering views.
Talking to the people by the Members of Parliament during their constituency visits about the rules they have to abide by if Bhutan joins the WTO will enable the decision makers get people’s opinions even though they, rural illiterate may not know what WTO really is. With Bhutan nearing LDC graduation, WTO accession needs to ponder upon as Randall Krantz in his article ‘LDC Graduation and WTO Enrollment’, in Kuensel dated 14th December 2013 mentioned, “WTO is a one way street – it is not possible to test the waters and decide to go back”. Decision either FOR or AGAINST need to be well calculated!