Bank Law Back to Assembly

The Senate returned a critical banking draft law to the National Assembly on Wednes­day, complaining the mandated five days for Senators to debate the legislation was insufficient, Assembly and Senate officials said.

The draft commercial banking law, an important reform that the government wanted passed be­fore a visit this month by the World Bank and the second quar­terly donors review meeting, was sent to the Senate Oct 20 for review after passage by the Assembly. But a four-day holiday weekend for the Paris Peace Accords anniversary gave the Senators no time to debate the lengthy and complex legislation, said Senate Secretary General Oum Sarith.

According to the Constitution, legislation marked as urgent by the government must be passed by the Senate within 5 days. If the draft law is not urgent, the Senate can take up to one month. The government had marked the draft as urgent.

Speaking to lawmakers Wed­nesday, National Assembly Presi­dent Prince Norodom Ranariddh expressed concern there might be criticism if the Senate, created in March, and the Assembly appeared unequal. The Constitu­tion does not limit the amount of time the Assembly can take to debate draft laws.

While the prince suggested amending the Constitution to give the Senate more time to look at drafts, Oum Sarith said the solution is not to change the Constitution but to stop marking legislation as urgent.

Assembly Secretary-General Kol Pheng agreed changing the Constitution was unnecessary and that the return of the bank law to the Assembly would draw criticism. “The Senate has a consultative role in the law-making process,” said Kol Pheng. If they do not want to give an opinion, he said, “They are free to do so.”

The draft instead has been sent to the Consti­tutional Council for review. Coun­cil President Chan Sok said it has eight days to look at the draft. “We will try to finish it on time,” he said.

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