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MPs’ wait for better office continues

The Cabinet is yet to decide on a proposed plan to relocate the PMs’ office from Langjophaka, Thimphu to a convenient place, according to officials in the Prime Minister’s Office.

MPs have long been demanding for a better office, where they have privacy with their constituents and better amenities.

A committee comprising officials from the foreign ministry, the department of national properties and the secretariat was formed in November last year to assess if the MPs could be accommodated in the National Assembly building.

The secretariat had submitted the committee’s report to Prime Minister early this year on the plans to relocate the MPs’ office.

The committee is said to have presented its report to the Cabinet recently  but the Cabinet is yet to come to a conclusion based on the report.

The secretariat is awaiting a formal communication from the prime minister on whether the foreign ministry would move out. The Prime Minister is said to have told the secretariat earlier that he would give a decision by March this year.

“MPs are expecting to have a better office – a room where they can have privacy with their voters and people who come to meet them. There is inconvenience, and we are also quite concerned,” the National Assembly’s secretary general Sangay Duba said.

He said that his office would take course of action after the prime minister communicates his decision to the secretariat. He also hinted that MPs could move into another building with adequate space if the foreign ministry could not be relocated.

The initial plan to shift the foreign ministry to the existing MP office was cancelled, saying that many sensitive documents have to be shifted too. Also, the secretary general said that the foreign ministry needs a befitting office as it receives foreign delegations.

“The first thing foreign delegations do is meet the foreign minister, and the foreign minister has to stay closer to the secretary and the secretariat,” he said.

Should MPs move into the National Assembly building, the space would be just adequate, he said. The MP office today houses about 64 MPs and research assistants besides some support staff from the National Assembly secretariat.

The Prime Minister is said to have asked the secretariat to take over some of the structures currently occupied by the National Council secretariat, which will be shifted to the Convention Centre.

The secretary general was also of the view that the government should prioritise construction of a separate building each for the ministry and the Prime Minister’s Office for better coordination and dignity.

The former government had allocated budget for construction of an office building to house the foreign ministry in the 12th Plan. However, it was learnt that the present government has withdrawn the budget.

Construction of new buildings is not a priority for the present government, which has said that no new constructions would be taken up during the 12th Plan unless necessary.

“I think it’s important that the foreign ministry has an independent office. Even to the extent I said that we should have a separate Prime Minister’s Office because it’s for the future,” Sangay Duba said.

Having a separate Prime Minister’s Office, he said, would help in better coordination with the secretariat staff.

MPs have expressed dissatisfaction over the lack of individual offices, security arrangements and a proper parking lot at their present office. Coordination of work between MPs and the secretariat is expected to be easier if MPs move into the National Assembly building.

The offices of the Prime Minister, Opposition Leader, Speaker and Deputy Speaker are housed in the National Assembly building.

 

MB Subba 

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