The last two sessions of Parliament were short but precedent setting.

For the first time, the past year saw an 11th session of Parliament within a government’s term. The session, which was held in June 2018, did not see new legislative Bills being introduced in any of the Houses.

However, the 11th session passed an interim budget for the first time. The interim budget 2018-19 would end halfway of the fiscal year 2018-19 in December 2018 and a new budget for the remaining six months of the fiscal year had to be passed by the new government in January 2019.

The 11th session of Parliament, which coincided with the end of the PDP government’s term, introduced the interim budget since the incoming government needed to align the 12th Plan activities with its manifesto. Most of the annual fiscal year activities are derived from the Plan activities.

Accordingly, the Druk Nyamrup Tshogpa (DNT) government, which took office in November, not only incorporated its pledges into the 12th Plan but also aligned the Plan with the government’s term. This move was aimed at enabling the government to implement all the Plan activities during its term so that development activities do not come to a standstill whenever an elected government completes its term.

All past Plans began from July, coinciding with the commencement of the fiscal year. The initial draft of the 12th Plan had covered the Plan period from July 2018 to June 2023, in which case the government’s term would end four months after the completion of the Plan period.

The 12th Five-Year Plan period began from November 1, 2018 and ends on October 31, 2023.

However, even with Plan periods aligned with the government’s term, the vacuum between the two Plan periods could remain and the electoral cycle will continue to affect activities under the capital budget.

The second session of the third National Council in its recommendations on the 12th Plan recommended allowing the interim government (IG) to continue with the Plan period activities so that development activities do not come to a stand still with the completion of a government’s term. The NC’s recommendation is aimed at giving continuity to development works under the capital budget even during the election period.

This, according to the NC, can be done by including the interim government’s tenure in the five-year Plan for the continued implementation of development activities.

The NC’s recommendation implies that a new Plan period should start immediately after the completion of one without interruption even during the election period.

The completion of the 11th Parliament coincided with the end of the PDP government’s term in August 2018. While it was the 11th session for the second National Assembly, it was the 21st for the National Council.

Except for the budget, both the Houses of Parliament did not introduce any new bills during the session. The 11th session of National Assembly was the shortest in the last 10 years.

The first session of the third National Assembly Parliament and the 22nd session of National Council, which were held in January 2019 did not see issues of controversial nature. Unlike in the past when a Plan used to be introduced in the Parliament only for information, both the Houses of Parliament deliberated the 12th Plan in the recent Parliament session.

However, the 12th Plan was treated as a policy and not as a Bill. This means that the recommendations of one House were not forwarded to the other House for deliberation.

The National Council’s recommendations on the 12th Plan were directly submitted to the government and not to the National Assembly. Similarly, the National Assembly did not forward its recommendations on the 12th Plan to the National Council.

In another first, opposition members are chairing five of the nine committees of National Assembly. The National Assembly reduced the number of committees to nine from 11 as members felt they had more committees than needed.

MB Subba