Tashi Dema

National Council members will redeliberate the Minister and Minister Equivalent Post Holder Entitlement Bill 2019.

This is because they have to sort out how to consolidate the numerous Acts on entitlements, as the National Assembly recommended.

While most members expressed their concerns and disappointment with the NA for not discussing the Bill, they agreed to acknowledge the three objections NA raised with approval from 19 members with a show of hand.

Pemagatshel’s NC member, Choining Dorji, the chairman of the legislative committee, submitted that NC passed the Bill and forwarded it to the assembly during the last session, but on January 21, NA returned the Bill without even discussing it.

“NA’s first objection was because it contradicts with the Parliament-approved entitlements, as the Bill mandates the government to provide a vehicle for the ministers and equivalent post holder’s family,” he said. “The committee acknowledges the objection.”

The second objection was that approving the Bill might cost the country’s economy. “The third objection was that the three entitlement Acts  need to consolidated,” Choining Dorji said.

Gasa’s NC member Dorji Khandu said if NA members feel that providing vehicles for ministers and equivalent post holders wives contradicts Pay Commission Act, they should stop misusing public properties.

Eminent member Karma Tshering explained that the committee proposed the need to provide vehicles so that there is uniformity, as some use the vehicles and some do not. “If this bill is enacted, it would supersede other Acts but NA did not even deliberate on it.”

Members proposed for the Bill to be discussed in a joint sitting.

Punakha’s NC member, Lhaki Dolma, explained that accepting NA’s objections and discussing  the Bill does not serve the purpose, as the lower house’s main objection is on the principles of the Bill. “Deliberating it and amending the clauses  is not according to the procedure. So this should go to joint sitting.

Bumthang NC member Nima also expressed similar concerns.

He said the Bill should go for joint sitting, as NC members conduct detailed research and frame laws. “The objections are on principles and not on each and every clause in the bill.”

A committee member, Lhuentse’s NC member Tempa Dorji said the Bill was framed based on Royal Audit Authority’s audit on hospitality and entertainment budget. “RAA recommended a need for guidelines, rules and regulations and a budget ceiling.”

He said enacting the Bill to an Act would have benefitted the country.

Meanwhile, members also expressed concerns in consolidating the Acts, justifying that new Acts cannot be consolidated with existing Acts.