On 1 January, the budget year begins, during which the government departments will implement their budgets. The House of Representatives monitors whether the Government is keeping its promises. The process of preparing, drafting and discussing the budget and accounting for its implementation is called the budget cycle.
THE DRAFTING OF THE BUDGET
The drafting of the budget follows an established time schedule. The first steps are taken at the beginning of the year and the budget is finalised in August. Drafting a sound national budget requires a great deal of consultation between the Minister of Finance and the other ministers. Early in the year, the ministers make their wishes known to the ministry of Finance, which draws up the Spring Memorandum: an interim statement of windfalls and shortfalls in the current budget. Subsequently, the ministers discuss the main features of the new budget: the necessary spending and expected income.
During the summer months, the separate budgets of the ministries are drawn up. In August, all the ministers jointly decide on the final draft of the National Budget for the coming year. Subsequently, the proposals are submitted for advice to the Council of State, which provides the Government and Parliament with advice on new legislation. On Prince's Day, the budgets are presented to the House of Representatives in the form of bills.
- Third Tuesday in September: Prince's Day. Start Parliamentary year. The Minister of Finance presents the national budget and the Budget Memorandum to the House of Representatives.
- Autumn: general debates. The House of Representatives and the Senate consider the budget. The House can amend the budget, but the senate does not have the right to do so.
- 1 January: Start of the budget year. The ministers set out to implement their budgets.
- End of March, begin of April: Framework letter. The Minister of Finance draws up the so-called Framework letter, stating the windfalls, shortfalls and financial claims of ministers for new policy.
- Before 1 June: Spring Memorandum The Minister of Finance presents the Spring Memorandum and the accompanying supplementary budget bills.
- Before 1 December: Autumn Memorandum. The Minister of Finance presents the Autumn Memorandum and the accompanying supplementary budget bills.
- 31 December: End of the Budget year.
- First quarter: the Central Government's annual report and the report of the Netherlands Court of Audit. Ministers draw up annual reports that are assessed by the Netherlands Court of Audit.
- Third Wednesday in May: Accountability Day. End of the budget cycle. The Minister of Finance presents the annual reports to the House of Representatives. The Netherlands Court of Audit presents its reports on the annual reports of the government departments. The House of Representatives checks if the budgets have been properly implemented.
THREE CALENDAR YEARS
The budget cycle spans three calendar years. Budgets must be prepared, implemented, balanced and accounted for. In one calendar year three budget cycles intermingle. Budget documents submitted to the House can relate to the past, current or next year.
The budget cycle is most complicated in spring. In spring 2017, for instance, the Cabinet discusses the headlines of the National Budget for 2018. Meanwhile, the House of Representatives discusses the current budget (Spring Memorandum 2017), as well as the annual reports over the past year (2016).