The Opposition Leader (OL) who planned to ask five questions was cut-off by the Speaker when he was on the verge to start the questions directed toward the Prime Minister.
Of the two questions it was advised by the Speaker Jigmi Tshultim that one did not qualify as per the rules.
The Member of Parliament from Gasa, Damcho Dorji said, “As a member of the opposition I am really concerned by the tactics of the Ruling Party to stop the Opposition from criticizing the Government on very flimsy grounds and not even tendering a sound reason for not allowing the Opposition to question the Government in Parliament. It will not abide well for democracy in Bhutan”.
The Opposition leader however, clarified every question he actually wanted to ask. He said that he decided not to ask the first question to PM as advised by the Speaker.
The OL’s question that did go through was on the PM’s official visits abroad, and on the number of people who would accompany him as part of his entourage. The OL’s question also inquired about the intricacies of funding involved for trips made by the PM and his entourage.
The Bhutanese spoke to members of the general public to seek their sound opinions on the Speaker vs. the OL incident.
A legal officer from one of the agencies said, OL must have intended to ask a question on grounds that interceded on PM’s personal life, and therefore he was stopped.
Some people felt that, the transparency of the government should be maintained in such cases so as to know whose money is being used for the PM’s trip abroad and other truths.
The third question which OL intended to ask was to the home minister. The rupee crunch, said the OL has affected the whole nation but most importantly he pointed out that, people who resided in Jaigaon and Manglabar has been affected badly because of the housing problems in Phuentsholing. He said that people who resided in Jaigaon and Manglabar face many problems because they don’t get Indian currency in and out of country to pay the house rent and the bills.
“No report on this has been brought by the government,” said the OL, Tshering Tobgay.
The OL also put up questions to the Minister for Information and Communication regarding the taxi business and the increase in the number of the city busses which has affected the taxi business though increasing the number of city buses has helped the low income groups of people.
The Opposition Leader said, western region of the country has the maximum number of taxis in the country which is also an indication of no equitable development of the nation. He also raised the issue of city bus carrying extra passengers which is not allowed as per the law.
In response to OL’s question, the Minister for the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC), Lyonpo Nandalal Rai said that the business of taxi will be driven by the market force. He also answered the Opposition Leader’s question about Indian tourists who came to Bhutan bringing Indian private vehicles which also hindered the Bhutanese taxi drivers’ income.
Lyonpo Nandalal said, if we disallow the Indian vehicles to come in our country this may affect the long maintained relationship between the two countries. He said that Bhutan is directly or indirectly dependent to India, therefore such small issues just for the sake of taxi business should not affect the relationship of Bhutan and India.
On the issue of issuing licenses to the civil servants, the MoIC minister said that it cannot be stopped as it driven by the market force. “So as far as someone thinks that he can make an income out of it then they will do it,” said the minister.
Some MPs also talked about the using of the Indian roads in southern region of Bhutan. They said to restrict Indian vehicles which comes in with the Indian tourists just to entertain a set of taxi drivers in our country would not be a logically advisable move.
The MPs said Bhutanese people also uses Indian routes for various purposes in the south. Some also said that the trucks which transport gypsum and other goods from Samdrupjongkhar used Indian routes to reach Phuentsholing and plants at Gomtu which should be taken into account.
Unlike in Bhutan, Bhutanese taxis or private vehicles which travel to India are disallowed to tour in the locality by the Indian taxi drivers in particular areas as they have to make earning out of the tourists.
by The Bhutanese (www.thebhutanese.bt)