The Committee of Secretaries (CoS)was instituted during the first government’s term and it was dissolved by the second government. The third elected government reinstituted it.
National Council members called for a clear law on the institution or removal of the CoS during the discussion on the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill 2020 yesterday.
Section 24 (10) of the Bill states that: “In exercising its executive powers, the Lhengye Zhungtshog shall institute, oversee or dissolve the Committee of Secretaries, including the approval of the approved Rules of Procedures or Guidelines.”
Tsirang’s NC member, Dhan Kumar Sunwar, said that there was a need for a clear law on the Committee of Secretaries. “If it should be instituted, it should be made mandatory and clearly reflected in the Act.”
Punakha’s MP Lhaki Dolma said that it was up to the government to either institute or dissolve the CoS.
She said that the government reinstituted the committee because the committee consists of experienced and highly qualified secretaries who could advise, review, provide feedback and work collectively with the government.
Other members also agreed that the right to institute or dissolve the committee should remain with the government of the day.
Considering the past experience, some members also asked the committee if there were possibilities of having a deputy minister to assist the minister and to represent them if they were unavailable. They also asked if the Lhengye Zhungtshog has the right to appoint them.
Meanwhile, with the advent of digital transformation, the Social and Cultural Affairs Committee of the House proposed the use of secure video conferencing technology for the purpose of quorum in terms of an emergency meeting.
Quorum is the minimum number of members that must be present at any of the meetings to make the proceedings of that meeting valid.
Section 31 of the Lhengye Zhungtshog Bill states that: “For the purpose of quorum, the Chairperson (Prime Minister) may allow members to participate in session through the use of secure video conferencing technology.”
The quorum for the session of the Lhengye Zungtshong shall at least have two-thirds of its members.
A video conference would be used if the discussion was of extreme importance and there was no quorum at the time during the Lhengye Zhungtshog session whereby the chairperson could not adjourn or suspend the session.
Although most members welcomed the proposal, some raised concerns about cyber threats such as hacking.
Gasa’s MP Dorji Khandu said that the safety and security of the server remains a question. He said that the financial implication would be huge considering the human resource required to set up the equipment for video conferencing.
However, Chukha’s MP Sangay Dorji said that the proposal came at the right time and said that such features would be useful.
“Such technology can ease the financial burden and it will be convenient if in future the ministries are set up in other dzongkhags.”
Eminent member Karma Tshering said that if the servers were not secure, it was the duty of the members to make it secure. The House adopted the section.
The House assigned the committee to further discuss the provisions of taking into consideration the views of the members who raised their concerns and prepare for the final adoption. The House will continue the deliberation on Monday.