Of the nine MPs who had confirmed attendance for the meeting, only three turned up

The issue of poor attendance of National Assembly (NA) members at committee meetings has again come to the fore.

A five-member delegation led by the Auditor General that had reached the NA conference hall on April 10 to make a presentation on the Audit Bill 2017 outnumbered the MPs in attendance. 

Although the legislative committee had invited all MPs, including ministers, nine had confirmed their attendance for the meeting. However, only three MPs – NA’s legislative committee chairman Ritu Raj Chhetri, Deputy Speaker Chimi Dorji and MK Chhetri – turned up.

The legislative committee chairman took to Facebook to vent his frustration over his fellow MPs’ failure to attend the meeting. 

Ritu Raj Chhetri said the Royal Audit Authority (RAA) had requested for the meeting and that it was important MPs heard RAA’s views ahead of the upcoming Parliament session. 

“The bill is disputed and it is expected to be passed in a joint siting of the 11th session,” he said.

 The legislative committee chairman said, “It was a good opportunity for us to have such a meeting since all members are in Thimphu because of the ongoing National Council election.”

He said members should have attended the meeting except in unavoidable situations. “We also had to respect the fact that audit officials were coming to meet us,” Ritu Raj Chhetri said, adding that some didn’t even respond to calls from the NA secretariat.  

Seven out of nine members of the legislative committee, which had organised the meeting, were absent. Besides the chairman himself, the other committee member present was the Deputy Speaker.

The committee members who were absent were Kinley Om from Bji-Kar-Tshog-Uesu constituency, Mingbo Dukpa from Dewathang-Gomdar, Yogesh Tamang from Mendrelgang-Kikhorthang, Karma Rangdol from Gangjur-Minjay, Dechen Zangmo from Nanong-Shumar, Novin Darlami from Tsirangtoed and Dramedtse-Ngatshang’s Ugyen Wangdi. 

Opposition member Dorji Wangdi said that members from his party would have attended the meeting with full force if it were re-scheduled. 

“Most of the Opposition MPs are here only these days. We always attend and most of the time outnumber MPs from the government,” he said. 

Dorji Wangdi said the Opposition holds its regular shadow cabinet meetings on Tuesday. 

“When the NA secretariat called us to inform for this RAA meeting, we reminded the secretariat of this understanding and requested to re-schedule or else we cannot attend it,” he said.

Khamdang-Ramjar MP Sonam Dondup Dorjee said, “As I was heading to the meeting, I received a call from a person from my village seeking my help. I had to attend to him.” Kabisa-Talog MP Dophu Dukpa said that he had other engagements.

NA’s secretary general Sangay Duba said that he was not involved in organising the meeting. “Each committee has a committee secretary who are involved in such meetings.”

Speaker Jigme Zangpo said the NA is yet to take decisions on holding an 11th session of Parliament.  

MB Subba