The National Council (NC) will review the guidelines for appointment of constitutional post holders in the summer session, Deputy Chairperson of the House, Jigme Wangchuk, informed the media yesterday.

Speaking at the post-session press conference, the Deputy Chairperson said that the guidelines have to be enhanced for transparency and selection of appropriate nominees. “For instance, some appointees of constitutional posts complete their term before reaching their retirement age,” he said.

Jigme Wangchuk, who is also the NC’s official spokesperson, said the House’s legislative committee would present a report to the House in the upcoming session. Article 31(5) of the Constitution states that Parliament may, by law, prescribe necessary educational and other qualifications for the holders of constitutional offices.

According to the Constitution, the Prime Minister, the Chief Justice of Bhutan, the Speaker, the Chairperson of the National Council and the Leader of the Opposition Party jointly nominate a list of holders of constitutional offices to the Druk Gyalpo. 

However, Chairman of the legislative committee and eminent member, Karma Tshering, said questions related to transparency in the selection of nominees have been asked. “Some people still ask how the nominees are picked as we don’t have a clear guideline,” he said.

Holders of constitutional offices are the Chief Justice, and Drangpons of the Supreme Court; the Chief Justice and Drangpons of the High Court; the Chief Election Commissioner,  the Auditor General, and the Chairpersons of the Royal Civil Service Commission and the Anti-Corruption Commission. 

The summer session would initiate enactment of the entitlement Bill for cabinet ministers and holders of equivalent posts. Karma Tshering said that while there was an entitlement Act for the Members of Parliament, there was no separate law on entitlements of the members of Lhengye Zhungtshog, the Speaker and the NC Chairperson.

The Deputy Chairperson said the House would initiate enactment of an impeachment Bill. Some NC members are of the view that enactment of an impeachment Act would not only hold constitutional post holders accountable, but also insulate constitutional post holders from potential arbitrary impeachment attempts by parliamentarians.

“The upcoming session will be packed with agenda,” the NC Spokesperson said.

The NC would also review Lhengyel Zhungtsho Act 1999 during the summer session. Also on the agenda will be the Air Service Agreement between Bhutan and the United Arab Emirates, and Amendments to the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone layers, which have been passed by the National Assembly.

Jigme Wangchuk said that the House would also deliberate the final reports on the harmful use of alcohol and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).

Chairperson of the Special Committee and eminent member, Phuntsho Rapten, said despite significant support and investment into the TVET sector, Bhutan continued to face challenges of access, relevancy and quality of skills. “TVET is important for overall socio-economic development in the country,” he said.

“Based on the findings, appropriate strategic interventions will be explored to recommend the government as the way forward in the following session,” he said.

The interim report on the harmful use of alcohol that was presented in the 22nd session highlighted alcohol as one of the top killers in the country and one of the major risk factors causing noncommunicable diseases. The report also stated economic burden of alcohol outweighing its economic returns and the government incurring huge expenditure treating patients with alcohol-related diseases.

The NC would submit the final report and recommendations on the issues to the government.

The 22nd session of NC concluded yesterday with the offering of Zhapten and Tashi Moenlam for the long lives and prosperity of His Majesty The King and the members of the Royal Family.

MB Subba