Support for the Royal Monetary Authority Bill was unanimous. Every one of the 66 MPs present in the Parliament today endorsed the Bill.
But if the Bill is so popular, why hadn’t the two Houses each passed it on its own? Why was a joint sitting needed?
In fact, there were differences. And the most critical one concerned the chairperson of the RMA Board.
The RMA Board comprises of seven members – the governor, two deputy governors, and four other members. The governor is appointed by His Majesty the King at the recommendation of the prime minister. The two deputy governors are full-time staff from the RMA secretariat. And the four other members are appointed by the government.
Most MPs, especially those in the National Council and the two in the opposition, expected that the governor would automatically become the chairperson of the Board. This was also the recommendation of the Joint Committee that had been established to iron out the differences between the two Houses.
The government, however, argued that the Chairperson should be from among the four other members it appoints, and not the governor.
A debate looked promising. But there wasn’t to be one. Instead, a couple of MPs explained why the governor should be the chairperson of the Board. Then, three ministers in quick succession justified why the governor should not be made the chairperson. And then, the speaker decided, quite suddenly, that the recommendation of the Joint Committee would prevail. No one challenged the speaker. And just like that, the otherwise most contentious issue was resolved.
After that, there were hardly any disagreements. The Joint Committee’s recommendations were mostly accepted; the government’s positions in some other areas were incorporated; and, despite my earlier misgivings, the RMA Bill sailed through unanimously.