MB Subba

The joint sitting of Parliament will discuss issues regarding the early submission of the annual audit report 2020-21 to Parliament towards the end of the deliberation of the Public Account Committee’s (PAC) review reports.

Speaker Wangchuk Namgyel said this after National Council (NC) members in the joint sitting yesterday raised questions on the legality of the Royal Audit Authority’s (RAA) decision to submit the annual report six months before the prescribed time.

The Auditor General submitted the report in November or the second quarter of the financial year 2021-22.

In the joint sitting yesterday, the NC member from Gasa, Dorji Khandu, drew Parliament’s attention to Section 111 of the Audit Act which states that the Auditor General should submit the annual during the fourth quarter of the financial year on the audit carried out for the financial year ended.

He said that Article 25(7) of the Constitution mandates the RAA to function as per the Audit Act and that the law should be respected and complied with.

“The RAA fixes accountability on agencies for non-compliance with the law and PAC accordingly comes up with recommendations. But whom should we fix the accountability on if the RAA does not comply with its Act and the Constitution?” MP Dorji Khandu asked.

The Act, he said, should be amended first if the RAA’s move is to benefit Parliament.

The NC member from Zhemgang, Pema Dakpa, said that the Act was clear on the need to submit the annual report to Parliament in summer. He said that Parliament should pass a resolution to amend the Act in the summer session.

The chairperson of PAC, Ugyen Tshering, said that discussions should be held between Parliament and RAA to solve the issue. He added that the Act and the Constitution should not be violated.

However, the Speaker said that lower house members had not expressed any reservation on the issue. “We have to move court if we are to know whether the early submission violates the law.”

The Speaker said the issue needed to be resolved in the House although he had expected the PAC to submit its review report on the annual report 2020-21 in the summer session.

In the past, annual reports were submitted to the Druk Gyalpo, the Prime Minister and Parliament in the summer session. The PAC accordingly come up with its review report in the winter session.

The PAC’s Rules of Procedure states that the committee shall report on the Annual Audit Report during the winter session of Parliament.

The RAA has justified its decision, stating that the report would be stale if it is submitted in the fourth quarter.

Auditor General Tashi recently told Kuensel that compilation of information and coming up with the report was easier and faster now through digitalisation.

He said that the annual report would be submitted on November 11 every year.