English | Dzongkha Saturday, January 18, 2020

Parliamentary entitlement act overlook to be rectified

Pema Tshewang/Sonam Choden/Samten Ddolkar/Sonam Pem, Thimphu
Jun 11, 2019

The Finance Minister before passing the Pay Revision bill today shared his concern on not looking into the Constitution and Parliamentary Entitlement Act before passing the pay revision of the National Assembly Speaker and Supreme Court’s Chief Justice yesterday.

The National Assembly passed the Pay Revision Bill 2019 today with a show of hands.

The Economic and Finance Committee yesterday recommended a revision for the National Assembly Speaker and Supreme Court’s Chief Justice by 13 per cent on the existing basic pay. But as per the Parliamentary Entitlement Act 2008, it states that the salary, allowances, benefits and other emoluments of the Speaker of the National Assembly, Chairperson of the National Council and the Leader of the opposition shall be equivalent to that of a Cabinet Minister.

Further, the National Council’s Chairperson Tashi Dorji took it to social media yesterday stating that as per the Constitution, the National Assembly and National Council are vested with equal power on legislative functions. Therefore, the Speaker of the National Assembly is not the only head of the legislative branch. The Chairperson questioned whether the National Council is subordinate to the National Assembly.

The Speaker and the Finance Minister made an apology for breaching the Constitution and the Parliamentary Act.

“With the deliberation, we passed the recommendation. When we discussed on the cabinet’s, Prime Minister, Speaker’s and Chief Justice’s salary, the economic and finance committee recommended on 13 per cent salary raise of the speaker and chief justice. I expected this issue to be raised by other parliament members but nobody did.  The reason for bringing this issue is when we deliberated yesterday, unknowingly we made a mistake by breaching the parliamentary entitlement act. That’s why I still think we have an opportunity to rectify it,” Namgay Tshering, the Finance Minister apologised.

“As said by the finance minister, we do make mistakes which are not in accordance with the law. We made a mistake in one of the recommendations and we passed it yesterday. But when the recommendation is passed, it doesn’t mean the bill is passed. It’s not yet passed. This bill will go to National Council. After deliberation in the upper house, it will come back here as it is a money bill. We will then discuss it in details at that time,” Wangchuk Namgyel, the Speaker for National Assembly added.

The house deliberated on all 65 sections of the Pay Revision Bill along with five recommendations of the Economic and Finance Committee which they adopted.

The bill will be deliberated in the National Council and the recommendations will be submitted to the National Assembly for final adoption.

Yesterday the House decided the pay scale of the Prime Minister, Cabinet Ministers and equivalent positions to be kept at 6 per cent as recommended in the Pay Revision bill. The Economic and Finance Committee recommended on introducing a Professional Service Allowance of 20 per cent of the minimum revised basic pay as lump sum to the professional service provider in the National Assembly and National Council Secretariat. The professional service includes the parliament staff under the legislative and procedural division and research and Hansard Division of the Secretariat of the two houses.

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