Twenty out of the total of 36 National Assembly (NA) members, excluding cabinet ministers, made only one visit to their constituency during the financial year 2016-17, according to the annual report for the same period.
Launched by Speaker Jigme Zangpo on February 5, the report states that only 16 members visited their constituency twice or more (see graph).
According to the NA’s Rules of Procedure 2014, NA members must visit their constituencies at least twice a year, which means once after the conclusion of every session.
Members visit constituencies to discuss the issues faced by the people and to inform them about the plans and activities of both Parliament and the government.
The Rules of Procedure also states they should complete the visit to their constituencies two months before the start of the next session.
Drujegang-Tseza MP Karma Dorji said he visited his constituency twice in the year. “It could be because of the timing of the collection of report,” he said.
Nganglam MP Choida Jamtsho said he needed to crosscheck the records with the annual report. “Normally, I visit twice in a year, once after every session,” he said.
An MP said that it could be true that a few could have visited only once.
Khamaed-Lunana MP Pema Dukpa visited five times, which is the highest, followed by Speaker Jigme Zangpo, who travelled four times.
According to the report, Phuentsholing MP Rinzin Dorji spent the highest of 136 days on his constituency visits.
Pema Dukpa was on his constituency visit for 104 days and Gelephu MP Gopal Gurung, 92 days.
The report also highlights the frequency and duration of ex-country travels made by each member.
Led by the Speaker, a joint 10-member parliamentary delegation attended 135th general assembly of Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in Geneva, Switzerland in 2016 was one of the biggest.
Other important trips included a visit by members of the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) to Singapore.
Six out of the 36 members did not undertake ex-country official visits, according to the report.
Speaker Jigme Zangpo made six ex-country travels spanning a total of 17 days followed by Panbang MP Dorji Wangdi who travelled four times spending 13 days.
According to the report, some of the visits were funded by the host countries or organisers of the meetings like UNDP, United Nations Office for Disaster Risk Reduction (UNISDR), and UNICEF.
“Parliamentarians’ attendance to international meetings is seen as an important avenue for their capacity building, enhance their knowledge and gain more exposure and exchange experiences with their counterparts from other parliaments,” it stated.
Women parliamentarians, who play an important role in promoting and understanding women issues in Parliament, were provided leadership trainings in institutions within the country.