The National Assembly’s annual report 2017-18 assesses and highlights the role played by the 15-member Opposition during the last five years.
Stating that an opposition party provides checks and balances on the government’s actions, the report acknowledges the role of the Opposition party.
“A large ruling majority can bulldoze the process of decision making regardless of resistance from the opposition. It is, therefore, important to analyse and see how the opposition party stood in the second Parliament,” the report states.
In the second National Assembly, the Opposition took the centre stage in the Question Hour sessions.
“This demonstrates the significant role played by the Opposition. On the other hand, like elsewhere, the ruling party members have shown the tendency not to criticize the government as much as the Opposition,” it states.
A majority of the opposition members, however, voted in support of the bills, which according to the report implies that the Opposition carried their roles responsibly.
The maximum number of times members of the ruling party took the floor was in the third session of the second National Assembly when they spoke about 750 times. In the same session, opposition members spoke about 500 times.
Opposition members took the floor for the highest number of times in the seventh session, when they spoke about 560 times. The ruling MPs spoke about 500 times, according to the report.
The report states that it appears that the members of the ruling party got to travel more than the opposition members.
Speaker Jigme Zangpo travelled abroad about nine times in the financial year 2017-18, which was the highest. Among the members, Phuentsholing MP Rinzin Dorji travelled four times during the same period. Some of the members travelled only once.
The report states that Question Hour sessions are one of the instruments of holding the government accountable for its actions by Parliament. A member can ask a maximum of one question for oral answers and two for written answers during a Question Hour.
During the year, a total of 83 questions were asked, out of which 60 were for oral answers and 23 for written answers. About 57 percent of the questions were asked by Opposition members.
The Opposition, the report states, also improves parliamentary decision-making process, ensures that government does not sidestep or undermine the nation’s sovereignty and security, provides political alternatives and enhances legitimacy, accountability, and transparency in the political process.
“The opposition leader is of the rank equivalent to that of a Cabinet minister with same benefits such as residence in the ministers’ enclave, a chauffeur-driven car, a pilot with PSO, etc.,” the report states.
In the last five years, a total of 235 days of Parliament sittings, including 62 days of joint sitting, were held.
The Parliament received a total of 11 motions, 483 questions, and 174 local government petitions. While most of them were deliberated in Parliament, some of them were referred to the relevant agencies.