President Jacob Zuma delivers his state of the nation address in Parliament on Thursday. Picture: GCIS
President Jacob Zuma delivers his state of the nation address in Parliament on Thursday. Picture: GCIS

Four parliamentary committees have recommended the re-appointment of Prof Mohammed Jahed as the director of the parliamentary budget office (PBO) until after next year’s election, despite strong opposition from the DA.

Jahed’s five year contract comes to an end this month

The contract was extended until three months after next year’s general election to allow the new board of the budget office — which includes the speaker of the National Assembly, the chairperson of the National Council of Provinces, the chairpersons of the two parliamentary finance committees, and the chairpersons of Parliament’s two appropriations committees — to make a new appointment.

The re-appointment was a holding exercise, finance committee chairman Yunus Carrim said.

The budget office was established by the Money Bills Amendment Procedure and Related Matters Act with the intention to provide independent, objective and professional advice and analysis to Parliament on matters related to the budget and other money bills.

In terms of the act, the director must be appointed by a resolution of both Houses of Parliament, after a recommendation of the committees on finance and appropriations of both houses.

Jahed was seconded from the Development Bank of Southern Africa (DBSA) in 2012 to assist Parliament in the process of setting up the PBO.

Carrim said Jahed’s contract was extended "taking into consideration the principles of continuity and stability, together with the budget office output since its establishment, the contribution of the budget office to the stimulation of economic and financial debates in Parliament, and Prof Jahed’s profile".

It also took into account Jahed’s "extensive expertise in finance and economics, and the degree of professionalism with which he has conducted his work over the past five years".

However, DA finance spokesperson David Maynier objected to the appointment. "The PBO is broken and demoralised. Rolling over the appointment of Prof Mohammed Jahed is not in the best interests of the office. What we need is a new director who is committed to building an independent PBO."

Jahed’s critics claim he has done little to improve Parliament’s oversight over the budget and provided little useful advice and analysis for MPs over budgetary issues.