Monday 23 May 2022

Move budget presentation to spring to boost debate, minister says

The all important briefcase. Photo: Finance Ministry

Finance minister Sigrid Kaag has proposed moving the publication of the government’s financial plans from the third Tuesday in September to the spring, because this would give MPs more time to debate changes before they were implemented.

Currently, the finance minister’s statement is published alongside individual ministerial budgets in September, but critics say this does not give enough time to evaluate tax and other changes ahead of January 1 the following year.

The Council of State, the government’s most important advisory body, has also advised bringing forward the budget presentation, pointing out that many plans are already published early – or leaked.

In addition, EU member states are required to publish their economic forecasts in the spring, a process which has become increasingly important over the years.

Kaag admits her proposal, which has three variants, will take a major bite out of the traditional Prinsjesdag event – during which the king outlines the government’s plans for the coming year in a speech and the finance minister presents a briefcase containing the budget to parliament.

However, the cabinet’s preferred option would not require changes to the ceremonial side of the event which can go ahead in September. Prinsjesdag would then be about presenting the finalised plans, she said.

It will be up to MPs and senators to decide whether or not to make the change.

Setbacks

Meanwhile, ministers and coalition party leaders have begun the process of reassessing their plans for the current cabinet period in the light of several major financial setbacks.

Last month it emerged that the cabinet will need to find €10 bn to €15 bn to plug a series of gaps in its public finances when the spring budget statement is published on June 1.

The biggest shortfall is the €7 bn in lost revenues following a Supreme Court ruling last year that the tax on savings and investments was calculated illegally.

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