Annual budget to be scrutinised and opposition to move motion for discussion

NA: Unlike in the past, the upcoming parliament session on May 8 will see the annual budget being scrutinised by a finance committee, and the opposition moving a motion for discussion in the National Assembly (NA).

The nine-member finance committee, which is yet to be constituted, will review the budget and come up with recommendations after it is introduced in the assembly.  The committee will attempt to create a regional balance in budget distribution.

The committee will comprise six members from the ruling party and three from the opposition. “I sincerely hope the committee members won’t take party lines,” Speaker Jigme Zangpo said. “If the budget isn’t passed, it’ll have a ripple effect on dzongkhags’ development.”

The opposition will be presenting motions on employment, economy and education.

The house will deliberate on two amendment bills – the Companies (amendment) Bill, 2014 and the Jabmi (amendment) Bill 2014.  The house will also deliberate on the Enterprise Registration Bill 2014, besides the national budget.

All bills were introduced in the last session and the relevant ministers will move a motion to pass these bills.

Five disputed bills – the Narcotic Drugs, Psychotropic Substances and Substance Abuse Bill of Bhutan, 2014, Biosafety Bill, Tenancy Bill, the Office of Attorney General (OAG) Bill and Local Government Entitlement Bill – are up for endorsement in a joint sitting of Parliament.

The National Council (NC) is yet to finalise its agenda.

The works and human settlement minister will also move a motion in the NA for the establishment of a dzongkhag thromde and yenlag thromde in 20 dzongkhags.  The house will endorse boundaries of new thromdes and yenlag thromdes.

The session will also see a presentation of a report on economic development and private sector, and on the state of the nation by the prime minister.  The government will also move a motion on celebration of the 60th birth anniversaries of His Majesty the fourth Druk Gyalpo and His Holiness the Je Khenpo.

The house will also discuss petitions from local governments, which, among others, include a submission from the people of Thimphu dzongkang, stating that, despite etiquette being one of the country’s identities, western attire has increasingly fascinated the youth.  They submitted that English was widely being used as a medium of communication in meetings.

The house will also ratify the United Nations Convention against Corruption (UNC) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) Framework.

Meanwhile, the speaker, Jigme Zangpo, has said that he would not be affected by pressure, either from the ruling or opposition parties.  There have been, at times, accusations from opposition members that the speaker had tried to suppress voices from the opposition.

“I don’t work under pressure either from opposition or the ruling party,” Jigme Zangpo said, adding that he didn’t take a party line while exercising his power as the speaker.  He described the accusation of the speaker being partial in the assembly as a perception.

By MB Subba