Making the best of dhana (inauspicious month), members of the National Assembly in a recent meeting reduced the number of committees to nine from 11.

The house will have to endorse the decision when the National Assembly commences on January 2.

Secretary general of the House, Sangay Duba, said that the finance and economic development and private sector committees have been merged to form a new committee. Similarly, foreign relations and human rights committees have also been merged.

The reduction in the number of committees, the secretary general explained, would strengthen the membership in each committee.

“Nothing is missed out in the merger. The essence and contents of the previous committees have been maintained,” Sangay Duba said.

Soon, the committees are expected to elect their chairperson and deputy chairperson.

MP Tshewang Lhamo said that members felt that there were more committees. Productivity was one of the reasons for reducing the number of committees, she added.

MP Ugyen Dorji said: “We decided to reduce the number of committees for efficient functioning of the committees. MPs felt that the current number of committees were adequate to serve the purpose of discharging parliamentary duties.”

The other committees are legislative committee, public accounts committee, social and culture committee, good governance committee, environment and urban development committee, women, children and youth committee, and house committee.

The legislative and public accounts committees were established in 2003 and 2004, respectively. The other committees were reconstituted at the first session of the second National Assembly after the introduction of parliamentary democracy.

The National Assembly Act 2008 and the Rules of Procedure of the National Assembly of Bhutan 2014 govern the committees and their functions.

The secretary general said that secretariat kept the members engaged in team-building activities among others. In build up to the first session, the secretariat recently provided members a refresher course on driglam namzha.

MPs have been briefed on the country’s foreign policy. They were also briefed about their benefits and entitlements.

A vehicle lump sum amount of Nu 1 million, which the MPs are entitled to in the beginning of their tenure, is likely to be disbursed after the government proposes a new budget.

MB Subba