MB Subba 

The winter session of Parliament will begin on November 24, the National Assembly (NA) Secretariat has announced.

The constitutional bodies, agencies, and local governments have about two weeks to submit issues for deliberation in the upcoming session to the National Assembly Secretariat.

The issues should not be related to development activities and will be screened at the pre-session plenary scheduled for October 25.

The National Assembly, however, has not revealed the closing date.

Members of Parliament said that almost all of them have made constituency visits. Most of the MPs put constituency visits on hold last year, partly due to government expenditure.

MPs said they were entitled to TA/DA for only 21 days, due to budget constraints. In the past, MPs said, a constituency visit could last for more than a month.

Lhuentse’s Gangzur Minjey MP Kinga Penjor said that he visited his constituency after the summer session.

“I visited my constituency more than six times,” he said, adding that MPs did not take TA/DA for more than three weeks.

An MP who did not want to be named said that some of the members travelled for more than 21 days, bearing the additional expenses. He said he travelled for more than a month in his constituency.

The National Council’s (NC) Deputy Chairperson, Jigme Wangchuk, said that almost all the MPs visited their constituencies, although the duration of the visits were generally shorter compared to the past.

He said that MPs not only visited constituencies but also attended de-suung duty.

The meetings were held in a Covid-19 containment mode, according to MPs. MPs review development activities and disseminate information on Parliament resolutions.

Parliament’s Rules of Procedure mandate that MPs visit their constituencies at least twice a year: once after the conclusion of every session, to discuss the issues with the people, and to inform them about the plans and activities of both Parliament and the government.

Members said that committees were working on the agenda for the upcoming session.

Some of the issues that will be deliberated in the upcoming session are the Royal Bhutan Police (amendment) Bill, the Civil Society Organizations (amendment) Bill, Biodiversity Bill of Bhutan and the Anti-Corruption Commission (amendment) Bill. They have been introduced in one of the other of the two Houses.

The Mines and Minerals Bill was deferred in the summer session, but some of the members said that the Bill was not likely to be re-introduced, at least in the present government’s term.

As part of the preparation for the session, committees are conducting consultation meetings with relevant agencies and individuals.

Edited by Jigme Wangchuk