National Council elects incumbents as chairpersons

The first siting of the third National Council (NC) yesterday elected the member from Wangduephodrang, Tashi Dorji, as Chairperson and Jigme Wangchuk from Samdrupjongkhar as Deputy Chairperson.

Tashi Dorji, 36, is the youngest member ever to be elected as Chairperson of the house of review. He won 11 of the 25 votes cast for six candidates.

Among the candidates who contested for the Chairperson’s seat, Lhatu from Trashigang and Nima from Bumthang received four votes each, while Pema Dakpa from Zhemgang, Sangay Dorji from Chukha and Tshewang Rinzin from Thimphu received two votes each.

For the deputy chairperson’s seat, Jigme Wangchuk, 38, won 13 votes against Ugyen Namgay from Haa who secured nine votes. Tashi Samdrup from Trongsa garnered three votes.

Tashi Dorji was reelected for the second term, while it is the third consecutive term for Jigme Wangchuk in the house.

The Chairperson has a Masters degree in International Affairs and the deputy Chairperson has a Bachelors degree in Education.

Thanking his fellow members for the support, the Chairperson-elect said that he will discuss with members in conducting the sessions.

“Even if I cannot perform better than the past Chairpersons, I would not let down the support of the members in shouldering my responsibilities,” he said.

The Deputy Chairperson-elect said that acting as a bridge between the house and the secretariat would be one of his main functions. “I will coordinate and conduct sessions in absence of the Chairperson,” Jigme Wangchuk said.

Supreme Court Chief Justice Tshering Wangchuk administered the Oath of Office to the members yesterday. The members also signed a Pledge of Non-Affiliation to Political Parties.

None of the five eminent members, who have been reappointed by the Druk Gyalpo, had given their candidature.

The post of a Chairperson is equivalent of a cabinet minister, leader of opposition and chief justice. Accordingly, he is entitled to a security person, and ask for a pilot car for official tours. Besides other entitlements, a Chairperson’s basic salary starts at Nu 130,000 a month.

The Chairperson does not get a lump sum amount for purchase of a vehicle like the Members of Parliament since he uses a pool vehicle. However, he is entitled to a vehicle quota.

The basic salary of the Deputy Chairperson is Nu 75,160.

The government in 2014 fixed the lump sum house rent allowance at Nu 39,000 for the Chairperson and at Nu 22,550 for the Deputy Chairperson. The Chairperson, however, will not receive the allowance if he chooses to stay at the ministers’ enclave.

A Chairperson is entitled to an annual discretionary grant of Nu 200,000.

The salary of a Member of Parliament starts from Nu 65,930. Including monthly allowances, the gross monthly salary of an MP comes to about Nu 116,000.

Besides the salary, a member is entitled to a one-time grant of Nu 1 million for purchase of a vehicle free of government levies such as customs duty and sales tax in the beginning of his or her term.

Members are entitled to Nu 5,000 as mobile allowance, Nu 2,000 telephone costs, Nu 8,505 as driver’s salary allowance, Nu 8,000 fuel allowance and Nu 7,000 as vehicle maintenance allowance monthly.

They receive a house rent allowance of 30 percent of its basic pay, which comes to about Nu 19,700. A member is also entitled to executive class while travelling by air or train.

MB Subba

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