Parliament: All members of the National Assembly (NA) visited their constituencies in the financial year 2015-16. The duration of visits by MPs ranged from three to 273 days, and the frequency of visits was as high as 10.

Duration of visits depend on how remote the constituencies are with MPs from remote constituencies taking more days.

Jomatsangkha-Martsala MP Pelzang Wangchuk spent the maximum days of 273 days on constituency visits. However, he made only three visits during the period.

Bji-Kartsho-Uesu MP Kinley Om made the highest of 10 constituency visits during the last financial year. She spent about 75 days on her constituency visits.

South Thimphu MP Yeshey Zimba, Dewathang-Gomdar MP Mingbo Dukpa of Samdrupjongkhar and Tashicholing MP Ritu Raj Chhetri are among the ones who spent the least number of days in their constituency. They also made the least number of visits to their constituency (See graph).

Apart from legislative and oversight roles, MPs are mandated to represent the people. Parliamentarians are bestowed with the will of the people expressed through exercising their adult suffrage.

“It is the responsibility of parliamentarians to ensure a fair, effective and an inclusive representation of the people,” states the Assembly report 2015-16.

MPs are mandated to visit their constituency at least twice in a year. The objective of the visit is to interact with the electorates, understand their issues, apprise them of parliamentary proceedings and resolutions and bring their concerns to the Assembly.

With the objective of creating awareness to members of Local Government (LG), Speaker Jigme Zangpo with the senior secretariat staffers travelled to 20 dzongkhags where they presented the importance and roles and responsibilities of the Secretariat in the Assembly. LG representatives were able to raise and discuss issues with the Speaker directly.

On the sidelines, the speaker visited schools and gave talks to more than 3,000 students, in addition to some 27,000 students in the pervious year on the roles and functions of Parliament.  This, according to the report, “hugely contributed” in creating awareness on the functioning of Parliament among students.

MPs interacted with citizens and discussed issues of concern through Virtual Zomdu through video-conferencing. The video conferencing facility will be established in all 205 gewogs by 2018.

So far, 45 Community Centres (CC) representing 45 MP constituencies have been connected with the facility. By the end of the next financial year, 94 CCs will be connected with Virtual Zomdu facilities.

Issues discussed during the Virtual Zomdus were farm roads, drinking water, electricity and telecom networks among other issues. Community members’ feedback have been encouraging.

A total of 58 Assembly members participated in the ex-country workshops and conferences in over 15 countries. On an average, 31 members have travelled around twice each in a year.

Out of 58, four travels were made by two women parliamentarians and, of 58 trips, the cost of 32 travels was borne fully by the organisers while the government supported 26 travels partially or fully with total expenditure of Nu 5.7M.

The National Assembly passed seven new bills, amended one law and repealed four during the last two sessions coinciding with the financial year 2016-16. It ratified two conventions.

The bills passed include Civil Aviation Bill 2015 and Customs Bill 2015. The Assembly ratified Motor Vehicles Agreement for the Regulation of Passenger and Cargo Vehicular Traffic between Bhutan, Bangladesh, India and Nepal (BBIN).

MB Subba