NA house committee not dissolving: Chairperson

The chairperson said only two members have submitted their resignation

Refuting local media reports that the house committee of the National Assembly (NA) is dissolving, chairperson of the house committee, Karma Tenzin clarified that only two members of the committee have tendered their resignation.

On July 14, the house committee held a meeting in which six agendas were discussed but only two members: the chairperson himself and Member of Parliament (MP) Dophu Dukpa put up applications for resignation.

“The house committee does not have authority to dissolve but the members can resign from the committee,” said MP Karma Tenzin, adding that according to the Rules of Procedure (RoP) of the assembly the establishment of new committee and removing of committee can be done during a NA session.

“Officially, only two members have submitted their resignation, which have not been accepted yet.”

MP Karma Tenzin said he submitted his resignation to the Speaker since his tenure as the chairperson is coming to an end on August 12, the appointment of chairperson being for a period of one year.

“My resignation has come after 11 months serving as chairperson,” said MP Karma Tenzin.

According to him, his resignation was submitted according to the Section 319 RoP of assembly which states a chairperson may resign from a committee by writing under his hand, stating reasons, addressed to the speaker and similarly members may write through the chairperson addressing to the Speaker.

After the completion of tenure, the house chairperson will write a letter to all the committees to re-nominate the members or it can either re-elect. However, the chairperson is nominated on rotation basis annually.

MP Karma Tenzin said that the resolution of the meeting on July 14 is not an official document and it can be official only after adopting in the next meeting. The minutes of the meeting should be kept confidential until it is adopted in the next meeting.

He said that since 2013, 70 house committee meetings have been convened without any such issues arising because the discussions were kept confidential.

He cited the National Assembly Act section 48 states that the members are bound by official secrecy in the event that, through their official activities, they acquire knowledge of information that must be kept secret or confidential in order to safeguard national interests.

However, the Speaker of the National Assembly, Jigme Zangpo, has issued a letter to the house committee members that their recent decision on so called dissolving of the committee has violated the National Assembly Act and the RoP.

The Speaker told Business Bhutan that he has asked the committee members who wish to resign to inform him with reasons by August 10.

The Speaker said that committee members should respect the National Assembly Act and RoP. “The committee should be continued until the house dissolves,” said the Speaker.

The Speaker said that the house committee was formed according to the Constitution under Article 10 section 11, which states that both houses will determine their rules of procedure, and the proceedings of each house will be conducted in accordance with its own rules. The rules of procedure in each house shall provide for the appointment of committees to carry out the business of Parliament.

MP Karma Tenzin countered that many committee members have been serving in the house committee for the last four to two years while a few members have being serving for one year which is coming to an end therefore it should not be a problem for them to resign.

He, however, reiterated that the house committee is not dissolving; only two members have submitted for resignation.

“We have asked the committee secretary to inform all the chairpersons stating that new members should be nominated to the house committee,” said MP Karma Tenzin.

He also denied that the last house committee meeting held on July 14 had anything to do with grievances against the Speaker and Secretary General.

“We want to clarify that even if members resign from the house committee; the committee will remain as standing committee, it is just a matter of new members coming in,” he said.

The tenure of the house committee completes on August 13.

The house committee consists of member representatives from 10 other committees. The house committee is the NA’s apex committee.

The committee looks into the problems and welfare of assembly members and considers all issues raised by the non-committee members.

Kengkhar-Weringla MP Rinzin Jamtsho and Pangbang MP Dorji Wangdi represent the opposition in the committee. The other members include Khamdang Ramjar MP Sonam Dondup Dorjee, Chumey-Ura MP Tshewang Jurmi, Nyishog Seaphu MP Kuenga, Mendrelgang MP Yogesh Tamang, Talo-Kabji MP Dophu Dukpa, Chukha MP Rinzin Dorji and Nganglam MP Choida Jamtsho.

Dechen Dolkar from Thimphu