Report on the Establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Office: adoption

Standing Committee on Appropriations

08 February 2010
Chairperson: Mr E Sogoni (ANC)
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Meeting Summary

The Committee briefly considered and adopted a report on the role of the Standing Committee on Appropriations in the establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Office. The report highlighted the role of the Committee in profiling the position of Director and their role in the appointment. It also provided a comparison of the effectiveness of a Budget Office in policy- making, using the Ugandan and Canadian experience as a benchmark.

The Committee adopted the report after briefly deliberating on the provisions of section 15 (5) (b) which stated that the conditions of service, including the salary and allowance of the Director, had to “substantially be the same as those of the top rank of the public service”. Deliberations would continue on the following day in a joint meeting with the Standing Committee on Finance.

Meeting report

Members met to discuss the role of the Committee in the establishment of a Parliamentary Budget Office. A political task team had deliberated whether the Director of the PBO should be a qualified chartered accountant. The Committee had agreed to set up a sub-Committee to investigate the type of skills that would be required for such an appointment.  The sub-Committee’s report had been compiled and circulated to Members prior to the meeting. The Chairperson felt it was unnecessary to go through the report after Members indicated that they had read it and understood its contents beforehand. The report highlighted the role of the Committee in profiling the position of Director and their role in the appointment. It also provided a comparison of the effectiveness of a budget office in policy-making, using the Ugandan and Canadian experience.
 
The Chairperson invited Members to comment on the report.

Discussion
Mr M Swart (DA) commented that the report was very clear and that there would be a more detailed discussion on the appointment and the procedure that the Committee would follow in that regard in a joint meeting with the Standing Committee on Finance. The report gave the Committee guidance of what to look for with respect to academic qualifications but it was his opinion that it would be difficult to get a chartered accountant for the position.

Ms B Ngcobo (ANC) commended the task team for a job well done in compiling the report and providing a comparison of the PBOs in Canada and Uganda.

Ms Ngcobo initiated discussion on whether the Director’s remuneration would be equivalent to that of a Director-General in the public service.

Members pointed out that the remuneration structure for Parliament was different to that of the public service and sought clarity on whether the Director’s remuneration would be on the same level as a senior ranking official in Parliament.

The Chairperson commented that everything was prescribed in section 15 (5) (b) of the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act. As a result, there was little room for the Committee to deviate in deciding on an interpretation of what the phrase “the same as the top rank in the public service” could mean. He proposed that the legal technicalities flowing from section 15 (5) (b) would be dealt with on the following day in the joint meeting with the Standing Committee on Finance.

The Committee adopted the report.

The meeting was adjourned.





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