Not small or compact or efficient

Commenting on “No blank cheque!”, one reader, going by the name “justmyview”, asked what I thought about the government’s proposal to create a separate secretariat for energy under the Ministry of Economic Affairs. In particular, “justmyview” asked if the Parliament’s approval was needed to create the proposed secretariat, and elaborated:

Constitution clearly says that addition or reduction of ministry requires approval from parliament but doesn’t say anything about creating secretariat. Whether separate energy secretariat is necessary or not is altogether a different issue, but is it necessary to get parliamentary approval for creating secretariat? This is, yet, another important issue which will set precedence for the future government. Now the question is, should secretariat be treated like ministry? Or are there some differences? So, in this regard, what is honorable OL’s honest view on whether it is necessary to get approval from parliament or not? Who should have a final authority? Should it be with RCSC or Cabinet or parliament?

A week later, and “justmyview” was still waiting for my views:

I am still waiting to hear HOL’s view on constitutionality issue between government and RCSC regarding energy secretariat. Or HOL has no view on this issue?

First things first: Let’s drop that “H” before the “OL”. It serves no purpose.

Now for my views: Does the creation of the proposed energy secretariat need the Parliament’s approval? Yes.

The proposed secretariat will be headed by a secretary to the government and will have a separate PPD and a separate AFD in addition to whatever other departments have been proposed. By this proposal, the energy secretariat will be a secretariat of a ministry. And its structure (AFD, PPD and departments under a secretary) will be like that of any existing secretariat under any ministry.

By placing the proposed secretariat under the Ministry of Economic Affairs, that minister would, in effect, be in charge to two ministries – a ministry of economic affairs, and a ministry of energy. Whether the two secretariats report to two separate ministers or, as proposed, to a common minister, they are essentially two separate secretariats of two separate ministries. And this, incidentally, is exactly what I had said when, more than two years ago, I first heard about the government’s intentions to establish an energy secretariat.

According to Article 20 Section 2 of the Constitution, “… Creation of an additional ministry or reduction of any ministry shall be approved by Parliament.” Therefore, the creation of the energy secretariat (by which a new ministry, the ministry for energy, would be created) must require the Parliament’s approval. So I’m concerned that the government seems convinced that they do not need the Parliament’s approval to establish the new secretariat. [Continue Reading…]