Opposition MPs chair more Parliamentary Committees

Speaker says a good mix of MPs in the committees will lead to vibrant and fruitful discussions

In a first of its kind, majority of Chairpersons of Parliamentary Committees are from the opposition party. 

Of the total nine committees, opposition party members chair five while three are from ruling party and one from the National Council.

The Committees chaired by members from the Opposition are House Committee, Good Governance Committee, Environment and Climate Change Committee, Women, Children and Youth Committee and Social and Cultural Committee. The National Council eminent member PhuntshoRapten is chair of the Public Accounts Committee.

The ruling party members chair the Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee, Economic and Finance Committee and Legislative Committee.

Member of Parliament (MP) from Bongo-Chapchha, Chukha, Tshewang Lhamo, was elected as the chairperson of the Legislative Committee, Drukjeygang-Tseza MP JurmiWangchukas the Chair of the Human Rights and Foreign Relations Committee and Athang-Thedtsho MP Kinley Wangchuk is the chair of Economic and Finance Committee.

The chairpersons from the opposition are Opposition Leader Dr. PemaGyamtsho (PhD) for environment and climate change committee, Khar-Yurung MP Tshering Choden for Women, children and youth committee,Menbi-TsenkharMP ChokiGyaltshen for Social and Cultural committee; Panbang MP DorjiWangdi for House committee and Dramedtse-Ngatshang MP UgyenWangdi for Good Governance committee.

The Legislative and Public accounts Committees were established in 2003 and 2004 respectively. The other committees were reconstituted at the first session of the second National Assembly after the introduction of parliamentary democracy.

The National Assembly recently reduced the number of committees to nine from 11. Earlier, there were 14 committees.

The Finance and Economic Development and Private Sector Committees have been merged to form a new committee.Foreign relations and human rights committees were alsocombined.

While the maximum number of opposition MPs as chairs of parliamentary Committees has set a new precedent, questions are also raised if this is because ruling MPs are largely new and inexperienced.

Speaking to Business  Bhutan, Tshogpon Wangchuk Namgyel said the reason why opposition MPs was includedwas to bring about fruitful and effective discussions. “We have more opposition MPs as chairpersons because of their experience, which will lead to productive discussions. We have to work as one not according to party lines,” said the Speaker.

Excluding the Cabinet members, the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, the Ruling party has 18 members while the Opposition has 17 in all the committees.

The Speaker said it is not necessary to have chairpersons from the ruling party alone and having a good mix can lead to have vibrant discussions.

He said Committee chairpersons should not work according to party line but rather work together to remind the government of the day to function well and effectively. “They should create good environment,” he said.

An MP can be a part of a minimum of two committees and if they miss two meetings consecutively, they get a warning from the Speaker. The Chairperson of the committee is nominated first and then elected. The Chairperson serves for the entire five years but at times they can also resign to give opportunity to others.

Opposition Leader Dr. PemaGyamtsho (PhD) said that age and the experience of the MPs from the opposition party were reason why the Opposition MPs secured the maximum number of seats of Committee chairpersons. “However, at the end of the day whether one is in ruling or in opposition, MPs have to fulfill the mandates of the Committees.

Chencho Dema from Thimphu