The Budget Session of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile Commences Today

Dharamsala: Following the Standard operating procedure (SOP) issued by the center and the state government of India, the tenth Session (budget session) of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile for the fiscal year 2021-2022 scheduled to be held for 15 days from 15-31 March commenced today with the Speaker’s session commencement announcement at 9:30 am today.

The session began with the Tibetan national anthem in the parliamentary hall, assembled with Speaker of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile and its Deputy Speaker, Sikyong of the Central Tibetan Administration along with his ministerial colleagues and the parliamentarians. It was followed by the Speaker Mr. Pema Jungney’s session opening speech and the appointment of Acting Speaker and Ad Hoc committee members.

Speaker Pema Jungney in his opening address introduced brief agenda set for the scheduled days of the session and informed that the Participants of the Parliament Session (Kalons and Parliamentarians) and related staff members were tested prior to the session, who all came free of COVID-19. He further mentioned that with the deteriorating COVID-19 situation in India, the Parliament is uncertain if the session can be held for the scheduled days. Speaking of the preliminary election of the Sikyong and Parliament Members, the Speaker appreciated its smooth process and urged Parliamentarian present there to be observant of the words and speeches used in the Parliament to enable smooth processing of the final election as well. Finally, the Speaker urged Parliamentarians and Kalons in Parliament to follow the guidance provided by the Department of Health, CTA and asked them to inform relevant staff from the Parliamentary Secretariat on getting any Covid-19 related symptoms.

Thereafter, the list of business marking the official obituary reference was followed by Parliamentarian Ven. Khenpo Sonam Tenphel paying tribute to Shurmo, a 26 years youth from Driru who self-immolated protesting the CCP regime on 17 September 2015 but the information on self-immolation was heavily censored for many years until its uncovering recently.

Following that Parliamentarian Geshe Monlam Tharchin paid tribute to former Parliamentarian Secretary-General Drongreytsang Lobsang Khedup, who passed away on 20 April 2020. Parliamentarian Gewatsang Ngawang Tharpa paid tribute to former Parliamentarian Malutsang Tamdin Wangyal. Official obituary reference to former Indian Member of Parliamentarian and Tibet supporter Phuntsok Wangyal was paid by Parliamentarian Serta Tsultrim.

Likewise, Official obituary reference to former American politician and civil rights activist John Robert Lewis paid by Parliamentarian Lobsang Choejor and official obituary reference to former Taiwanese President and staunch Tibet supporter Lee Ten-hui was paid by Parliamentarian Tsaneytsang Dhondup Tashi. Parliamentarian Gowo Lobsang Phende paid tribute to former Tibetan Parliamentarian Khetsa Oga who passed away on 21 August 2020.

Thereafter, official obituary references to former Indian President Pranab Mukherjee and former Haryana Minister Swami Agnivesh were paid by Parliamentarian Khenpo Kada Ngedup Sonam and Parliamentarian Khenpo Sonam Tenphel respectively. Parliamentarian Tenpa Yarphel paid tribute to former Tibetan Parliamentarian Ngagrampa Bidho Thupten Woeser who passed away on 9 September 2020.

Official obituary references to former Union Minister of India Dr. Raghuvanch Prasad Singh, former Indian Member of Parliament Dr. Kapila Vatsyayan, former Union Minister of India Jaswant Singh, and former Union Minister of India Ram Vilas Paswan were paid by Parliamentarian Geshe Monlam Tharchin, Parliamentarian Gewatsang Ngawang Tharpa, Parliamentarian Serta Tsultrim, and Parliamentarian Lobsang Choejor. 

Following the list of business, Parliamentarian Tsaneytsang Dhondup Tashi, and Parliamentarian Gowolobsang Phende paid official obituary references to the passing away of former Indian Parliament Member and Nagaland Environment Minister CM Chang and former Chief Minister of Assam Tarun Gogoi. The house then observed a minute of silence to mourn for the official obituary references.

A total of 16 official obituary references were paid in the morning session, which included one Tibetan self-immolator, three former Tibetan Parliamentarians, one former Parliamentary Secretary-General, and 11 Tibet supporters and prominent world politicians.

Parliamentarian Khenpo Kada Ngedup Sonam presented the official solidarity motion on the critical situations inside Tibet, which was supported by Parliamentarian Tenpa Yarphel.

The official solidarity motion highlights the critical situation inside Tibet by describing the destruction of Tibet’s culture and religion with the loss of thousands of Tibetans under the regime of the People’s Republic of China. It further raises concern about the CCP’s policy of migrating Chinese people to Tibet, Sinicization of Tibetan Buddhism, usage of Mandarin as the medium of instruction for schools in Tibet, destruction of Tibet’s environment, arbitrary arrests of Tibetans, and inhuman tortures in prisons by the CCP, heavy censorships on information, etc.

It further describes the significance of the passage and adoption of the Tibetan Policy Act 2020 by the US government which oppose the interference of the Chinese government on the reincarnation of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, followed by the appointment of US special envoy to Tibet, visitation of Sikyong’s visit to the US State Department office, and so forth.  Highlighting the critical situation in Tibet, the official solidarity motion mentioned reports on human rights violations happening in Tibet, 155 self-immolations of Tibetans in Tibet, and expressed appreciation for the spirit and determination of all the courageous Tibetans and especially of the self-immolators. It further calls for the release of all the Tibetan political prisoners and complete freedom for Tibetan language activist Tashi Wangchuk who was released recently after completing his imprisonment.

The official solidary motion resolves the following six points; Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile appreciates all the courageous Tibetans who have sacrificed even their lives for the cause of Tibet expresses condolences to their families and prays for their rebirth in Tibet; China should take accountability of the callings, aspirations, and testamentary messages of the 155 Tibetan self-immolators inside Tibet; calls for dialogue between the envoys of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government; discontinuation of the CCP’s brutal and destructive policies; with the adoption of ‘Reciprocal Access to Tibet Act’ and ‘Tibetan Policy and Support Act 2020’ by the US government, Tibetans inside Tibet have found a new ray of hope and the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile calls the Chinese government to respect the human rights of Tibetans; and urges United Nations, European Union, United Nations Human Rights Council, governments, Parliaments, world leaders, etc to inspect human rights situation of Tibetans by visiting Tibet.

The motion was laid onto the table for discussion, eight Parliamentarians participated in the discussion raising important matters like environmental destruction of Tibet, the importance of campaigning against the 2022 Beijing Olympics, troubles caused by the Wuhan originated COVID-19, gratitude to the countries of the world and the international community for supporting Tibet and the significance of such more support. The discussion on the motion will continue in tomorrow’s session.

The morning session thus got adjourned for the lunch break at 12:30 and resumed at 1:30 pm.

The afternoon session started with the Finance Kalon of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), Mr. Karma Yeshi laying before the Table 2021-2022 Budget of Central Tibetan Administration, which was subsequently followed by Parliamentarian Khenpo Sonam Tenphel, presenting the Précis report of the Budget Estimation Committee of the Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile.

Finance Kalon in his statement elucidated the past 10 fiscal years’ financial status of the CTA and proposed an amount of Rs. 2,699.01 million budget for the fiscal year 2021-2022, out of which Rs. 62.21 million is allotted for legislature expenses, Rs. 637.78 million for political-related expenses, Rs. 591.02 million on administration-related expenses, Rs. 602.33 million on education-related expenses, Rs. 235.41 million on health-related expenses, Rs. 60.57 million on religion and culture-related expenses, Rs. 506.99 million on social-related expenses. The Kalon also mentioned that the Tibetan voluntary contribution, funds from the Indian government and other countries, organizations, and individuals are the source of income for the budget. Likewise, he thanked and expressed gratitude to all of them.

Budget Estimate Committee Chairman Parliamentarian Khenpo Sonam Tenphel in his presentation of the committee’s six-point report highlighted the appointment process of the committee’s members, and the committee, following the guidance from the Speaker and Deputy Speaker, in 13 days reviewed 31 files and inquired more than 48 officials which included Finance Kalon, budget committee Chairman, and relevant staff members.

The motion for debate on the Central Tibetan Administration’s 2021-2022 Budget was tabled by Parliamentarian Khenpo Sonam Tenphel and supported by Parliamentarian Geshe Monlam Tharchin.

The first day of the 10th session of the 16th Tibetan Parliament-in-Exile was adjourned at 2:30 pm till 9:30 am of the next morning.