Speaker cites Constitutional requirement to do so
The National Assembly Speaker Tshogpon Jigme Zangpo said that the National Assembly (NA) will be heading for a 11th session sometime by June 2018, in order to fulfill a Constitutional requirement of having two NA sessions in a year apart from other Constitutional and legal requirements.
The NA speaker also pointed out that the NA would also have to at least pass the current expenditure budget to run the government while leaving the allocations for the capital expenditure budget to the next elected government. Current expenditure refers to the salaries, fuel, maintenance, TA/DA aspects of the budget while capital expenditure is for fresh projects like constructing new roads, schools, hospitals etc.
“The present government can mobilize the funds for the capital budget but leave its allocation to the next elected government,” said the speaker.
The speaker said that Article 12 section five of the Constitution which dealt with the NA says, “The National Assembly shall assemble at least twice a year.”
He said that Article 10 section 24 which deals with the Parliament says that that the NA and NC shall continue for five years from the date of the first sitting of the respective Houses. The speaker said as per this same section the NA can only be prematurely dissolved either by a recommendation of the Prime Minister to the Druk Gyalpo or through a vote of no confidence.
The prime minister on separate occasions has already made it clear that though it may be advantageous to the government they would complete the full five year term and not go for any early dissolution.
The speaker then said as per the constitution the prime minister has to present an annual state of the nation report to the Parliament.
Article 10 section 10 of the Constitution says, “The Prime Minister shall present an Annual Report on the state of the nation, including legislative plans and the annual plans and priorities of the Government, to the Druk Gyalpo and to a joint sitting of Parliament.”
Citing Article 25 section six of the Constitution dealing with the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) the speaker said that the Parliamentary Accounts Committee (PAC) has to review and report on the Annual Audit Report to Parliament for its consideration or on any other report presented by the Auditor General.
He pointed out that the National Council will be reconstituted by 10th May and the NC itself needs to assemble twice a year and so the NA and the NC can have a joint sitting together.
The speaker said that the during the plenary session a member of the Opposition had raised the issue on if this 10th session is the last one to which he had clarified that as per the Constitution there must be a 11th session in 2018.
The speaker said that he had also discussed the issue with the current NC Chairman Thrizin Dasho Sonam Kinga to which the Thrizin had agreed with the speaker’s position.
The Opposition leader Pema Gyamtsho said that the Opposition party does not have any issue with an 11th session as long as it is not used to pass the 12th five year plan and the budget. He said that there is already a provision for the current expenditure budget to be allocated automatically without having to pass it in the house.
The Opposition leader said that it will not be fair to the incoming government if the 12th plan and budget is already passed when they come into office.
MP Dubtho said that the Public Finance Act has a provision where it says in the event of the budget not being passed the same figures as the previous year is allocated along with a certain increase in the percentage.
The Prime Minister Lyonchhen Tshering Tobgay said, “I welcome the decision of an 11th session. We will be guided by the speaker to ensure that we as MPs fulfill our constitutional responsibilities as defined in the constitution.”