The two Finance and the two Appropriations Committees of the National Assembly (NA) and the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) have agreed on a process to fill the vacant position of Director of the Parliamentary Budget Office. This follows a letter from the Presiding Officers of the two Houses informing them of their obligations to nominate a candidate as prescribed by legislation.
Members agreed unanimously to appoint a sub-committee to oversee the advertisement of the position, to conduct an interview process and to produce a shortlist of 10 to 20 candidates for consideration by the full four Committees. They resolved that the process should be open and transparent.
The four Committees were also presented with a draft programme of briefings and hearings on the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) stretching from the speech by the Minister of Finance on 30 October 2019 to final consideration of the Adjustment Appropriation Bill and the Revised Fiscal Framework in the first week of December.
The four parliamentary Committees dealing with the national budget held a joint meeting to discuss the process for appointing a director of the Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO). The meeting was chaired by the Chairperson of the Standing Committee on Appropriations Mr S Buthelezi (ANC). He introduced the Chairpersons of the other three Committees: Mr Y Carrim (ANC), Select Committee on Finance, Mr J Maswanganyi (ANC), Standing Committee on Finance, and Ms D Mahlangu (ANC), Select Committee on Appropriations.
Mr Buthelezi said the Chairpersons had received a letter from the Speaker of the National Assembly and the Chairperson of the National Council of Provinces. The letter informed them that the vacant position of PBO Director had to be filled in accordance with the provisions of the Money Bills and Related Matters Act. The letter urged the Committees to urgently start a process of recommending a candidate to be appointed by the two Houses of Parliament.
Adv Buthelezi asked Adv Frank Jenkins, Senior Parliamentary Legal Advisor, to brief the Committees on the process laid out in the Act.
Adv Jenkins said section 15 of the Act required the Committees to nominate a fit and proper person. There would have to be a vetting process which relied on previous determinations of what “fit and proper” entailed. For instance, a candidate should not be an unrehabilitated insolvent or have been found to be dishonest. The person should have the requisite skills, experience and leadership abilities. The Act said the four committees should apply these criteria in selecting a candidate and the process should be done in an open and transparent manner.
Adv Jenkins suggested that the position should be advertised and that the interviewing of applicants should be open to the public. The end result of the process would be a report from the four committees nominating a single candidate.
Mr Buthelezi invited Mr Dumisani Jantjies, Deputy Director, PBO, to outline the role of the office.
Mr Jantjies said their work was to advise the four Committees on Money Bills presented by the Cabinet and to do research and analysis to strengthen the oversight role of the Committees.
Mr Buthelezi proposed on behalf of the Chairpersons that a sub-committee should be appointed to conduct the selection process. He proposed that it should consist of seven Members, four from the ANC, two from the DA and one from the EFF. It would report to the full Committees at all important stages of the process, including the advertising of the post. The proposal was accepted by all Members.
Discussion among Members focused on how the sub-committee should draw up a shortlist of candidates and whether this should have 10 or 20 names and whether it should be whittled down to three candidates for vetting.
Mr Buthelezi suggested that it should draw up a short list of 20 people and then present the top 10 to the full Committees.
Other Members said this could complicate the process.
Mr Carrim said it was not known how many people would apply for the position. The sub-committee and Mr Buthelezi, as the coordinating Chairperson, should therefore be given some latitude in determining the process.
It was generally agreed that Members should in any event be provided with the names of all those who applied.
Mr Buthelezi thanked Members for their participation. He said it was important that any shortlist should have an equal balance of women and men.
The Secretary for the Select Committee on Appropriations presented a draft programme for the four Committees to deal with the Medium Term Budget Policy Statement (MTBPS) to be delivered by the Minister of Finance on October 30. The programme would start with a pre-MTBPS briefing by the PBO on October 29 and end on December 6 when the NCOP would consider the 2019 Adjustment Appropriation Bill. The programme included joint sittings of the four Committees for public hearings on the MTBS and the National Treasury’s responses to public submissions on the Revised Fiscal Framework.
The meeting was adjourned.
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