Entitlement urgency

Most of you sided with the government’s proposal to force early elections that I wrote about in Dissolving the government. Thank you for your comments. (For the record, PDP would benefit from early elections too. Unlike the three new parties, we already have a presence in all 20 dzongkhags. And that means that early elections would almost assure us of getting past the primary round.)

By law, the government can recommend the premature dissolution of the National Assembly. So I have no problem with the legality of the government’s proposal. It’s the principle that concerns me. If the government’s proposal to dissolve the National Assembly before the completion of its term is motivated by the national good, I’m all for it. If, on the other hand, the government is motivated by narrow political interests, I’m concerned.

I happen to believe that it’s the latter. I believe that the government is forcing early elections to prevent the new parties from establishing themselves and taking away votes from the ruling party. I believe that the government wants to sweep the elections with little or no opposition. I believe that the government is intent on clinging on to power.

But let’s move on.

In his inaugural address, the speaker also announced that the Parliamentary Entitlement Act would be introduced for amendment during this session.

Now here, we run into trouble, both by law and by principle.

Section 30 of the Parliamentary Entitlement Act states that, “A member of Parliament upon retirement on completion of his term of five years shall be entitled to such amount of gratuity as may be provided for under this Act.”  And according to Section 31, “… No gratuity shall be payable if a member retires before the completion of his term or if his services are terminated.”

If the National Assembly is dissolved before the completion of its term, we, MPs, will not have completed our term of five years, and, as such, will not be entitled to collect gratuity. Hence, the urgency to revise the Parliamentary Entitlement Act.

Amending the Parliamentary Entitlement Act just to benefit ourselves is questionable, on principle. But it is also questionable, again on principle, because the the National Assembly  rejected the Parliamentary Entitlement (Amendment) Bill which was passed by the National Council less than a year ago, in the last session of the Parliament.

And that’s where amending the Parliamentary Entitlement Act in this session could run into trouble with the law.

According to Section 193 of the National Assembly Act, “When a Bill has been passed or has been rejected during a session in any year, no Bill of the same substance may be introduced in the Assembly in that year except by leave of the Assembly.” The Parliamentary Entitlement (Amendment) Act was rejected in the 9th Session, so we should not be allowed to discuss it in the 10th Session. Unless, that is, the Assembly considers this a serious enough matter to merit discussion even though a year has not passed since rejecting the Bill.

But even if the National Assembly goes ahead and amends the Parliamentary Entitlement Act in this session, the amended bill can only be considered by the National Council in the next session of the Parliament. That won’t be possible, as this session is the last session of this Parliament.

If any amendment to the Parliamentary Entitlement Act is to be passed in this session itself, the amendment bill must be introduced as an “urgent bill”. But for that, the question we will need to ask ourselves is this: does the entitlement of members of Parliament amount to a national urgency?

 

 

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  1. With my little knowledge, the urgent bill be it urgent or not, considering the national interest of urgency, will in any way have to be consented His Majesty the King for his approval to be considered as urgent bill and to be deliberated, finalized and endorsed in the same session by both the houses. If the wisdom of His Majesty so allows and permits, then rest is up to the MPs in the houses to deliberate it at their own interpretation. But once the proposal of urgent bill is put up to His Majesty and his consent accorded to move on, the bill simply is then warranted to be an URGENT BILL…am sorry if am wrong, i have no knowledge on this….this just my one man opinion…

  2. Yes, let us not question the wisdom and competency of our voters. Winning is not necessarily directly proportional to the number of days one campaigns.There are many other parameters that voters looked into before casting their vote.

    As of amending “entitlement act”, it was another blunder of NA. They should ve accepted to amend it as proposed by NC. As OL has pointed out, it will be very difficult to amend in this session alone. So, probably, they should forgo their benefits for the sake of public interest if Royal Assent is accorded for the early dissolution of government.

  3. Drukpa kinley says:

    Lyonpo, I agree with your post. The NA should have taken cognizance of the Bill when introduced by the NC in the 9th session. Rather the NA thought it affected NC only due to the much debated/misunderstood clauses in the constitution and decide to snub the NC. Now the NA realizes the Bill affects them so has decided to intoduce the same. I am sure the NC would not allow it to be intoduced as they can now campaing while completing their tenure.

  4. “I believe that the government wants to sweep the elections with little or no opposition. I believe that the government is intent on clinging on to power.”

    Pray it does not happen that way. Bhutanese need to change from sweet CAKE enforcing DPT to working Democracy for the needy Bhutanese sustaining and strengthening them with nourishing bread, giving longer life to the new institution of multi-party, parliamentary Democracy.

    People need to wean and mature to take sovereignty on themselves so that we do not elect weak leaders forming powerless government that has to beg for our good… DPT leaders did not solve much problems they created when they were high officials in the former order. Bye Bye for DPT…

  5. I am a student, and I don’t have much knowledge with regards to most of the acts and laws. But as a concern citizen, I keep reading all the post of Your excellency OL, online news, and news from other social media. Most of the time, to my limited knowledge I find truth in what OL post. And now I have lots of trust upon him. Whether he is doing for the sake of political motive or whatever reason, I find him capable enough to serve the nation.
    Now, I am waiting to see the names of PDP canditates. I hope most of them are deserving candidates in serving us, and our nation.

  6. As for the early dissolution of the government, I think it is surely for the larger national interest because their reasons are genuine. I don’t agree with the above comment that DPT did not bring any new developments. I for one see people in the rural areas very satisfied with new changes in their communities. It’s only few urban dwellers making some noise on DPT’s performance for personal reasons. However, I too have reservations on the urgency of the entitlement bill.

  7. It’s not a big surprise that our First Parliament session commenced with deliberation on this Act and going to end with this. Amended, modified and changed several times during last five years and still does not suit their personal interest. A piece of dough can be converted into any shape, but call it a TORMA, there is a prescribed manner to shape it. The naive character of our MPs really is really frustrating.

  8. Well..I follow OL’s post from time to time though not regularly and most of the time it does make lots of sense to me and as a citizen, I have begun to understand more about our constitution.

    I voted for DPT last time around and so far have been satisfied with the work done by him (though it has brought few developments to our constituency but overall I know it’ll leave a lasting impact overall for the good of the people).

    And Govt. as a whole, I find it quite confusing at times as to what they are trying to achieve altogether. For eg. they adopt one rule/law and after a few months they realize they made a boo boo and rectify it again. Come on, we the people trusted you all with our country believing that you are the best of the lot we have, but you make us believe otherwise.

    And they need to STOP experimenting too much and think constructively even if people criticize at times.

    And I for one don’t agree with the urgency of the Entitlement Bill.

    Good Speed till then.

  9. * done by the candidate of my constituency

  10. We need to vote for the party that has desires and guts to wean away from being weaklings crying and supplicating in the name of people they represent, sometimes not permitted even to exercise it for unexplained reasons to taking ability and confidence in settlement of every issues, democratically.

    Has DPT weaned away from the feet of the old order that sits heavily against every Bhutanese taking whole nation under its seize due to which we have the farce democracy in place, arguably to take blames and shield the causes of pain from being visible/heard?

  11. Amending the Parliamentary Entitlement Bill is because of complete shortsightedness of our leaders including government, NC and Opposition party.

    They should have asked that what if a MP has to resign or retire on health or personal ground? Will they get benefits for served years but nobody did?

    It now is affecting both NC and NA because everybody may need such clause for their own benefits. Now government asked early dissolve and is planning to amend the bill, the public will think as if government is doing for itself which surely seem right now.

    Our parliamentarian should think before passing bills in hurry or in sleep.

    Though i am bent little in favour of DPT from two existing parties. PDP has a better expert who can draft bills. MP Uguen Wangdi should consult and listen to Dasho Damchoe. Without which every bill seem to have hitches, lets say Tobbacco Bill, ACC Act (conflict of interests, Entitlement Act, Probably even speaker act and parliament act because they can be dragged into court while they are serving in the house…

    My vote may be with DPT or new parties but for God’s sake DPT’s legislative committee especially chairperson should listen to PDP especially opinion of Dasho Damchoe who has better expertise, experience and intelligence than DPT’s legal expertise combined (even with office of AG).

  12. We need to vote for a party that advocates for new CONSTITUTION which gives no place for the substance that casts dark, heavy shadow threatening all LAW and ORDER to its whimsical subjection.

    Are Bhutanese safe from the darkness of this heavy shadow weightier than the substance from which it comes down? Let not our leaders be the CHAMCHA (shadow) of MARA (the evil substance that kills every one under it) preaching its terms of peace that gives no hope of good in this life!

  13. As some one has rightly pointed out, that DPT begin with discussion on thier own entitlement and it looks like it will end with similar discussion. What a govt that claims to be working all the time for the masses! As a educated and concerned citizen we can easily see through what they are doing. They can lie or cheat once but not twice. They better know this. Bhutenese are no more the same like they were in the 70s. So much has happened but yes what is the best legacy of this govt after its full term of five years? Only farm roads?

  14. I definitely see a moral flaw. It appears as though the government as in DPT did not realise that situation would present them with a time where they would need to dissolve the govt earlier when an amendment to the bill was put forward by the NC; and I remember that. Now that they see by dissolving the GOVT earlier than before its natural completion date they are gonna benefit by easily erasing the other new parties, they do not want to disadvantaged by even the cheapest of stuffs unclaimed, that being the gratuities. I definitely see the govts cheap thoughts….

  15. Good! If the opposition and NC want the government to complete its full term, I don’t think they will be unhappy to do so. They would have more time to complete some of the unfinished development works and also avoid being blamed for any mishap during the elections owing to the monsoon rainfalls. At the end of the day, development will also suffer because the budget year and the 11th FYP approval processes will also be delayed. May be you fell right in to the trap set by DPT!!!

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