The presentation of the national budget and the Budget Memorandum

After the speech from the throne and the traditional cheering of the monarch "Long live the King, hurray, hurray, hurray", the King leaves the Hall of Knights. The members of the House of Representatives then make their way to the Plenary Hall of the House, where the minister of Finance presents his "third-Tuesday-of-September"-briefcase. The briefcase contains the national budget and the Budget Memorandum.

The Budget Memorandum

‘Budget Memorandum’ is short for ‘Memorandum on the State's finances’. The memorandum contains the amounts of money involved in the plans set out in the speech from the throne. Moreover, the memorandum describes the current economic and financial situation of the Netherlands and the prospective developments in the Netherlands, in Europe and beyond. Among others, it covers the fields of unemployment, the development of incomes, care, and education. It also describes the State's financial situation, the ‘public treasury’. The memorandum contains a statement of the government's expected income and expenditure, the consequences for the national debt and the measures the government wants to take to tackle this.

The Budget Memorandum also shows the cabinet's priorities. The details can be found in the separate budget bills of the ministries. The education budget, for example, lays down how much money is set aside for teachers’ wages, the maintenance of school buildings, text books, or research in universities.

The national budget

Every year, the national budget sets out the amount of money to be allocated to each ministry, as well as the expected expenditure. The budget bills relate to the budget year, which is concurrent with the calendar year, and runs from 1 January up to and including 31 December. The annual budgets cover the coalition agreement in detail. This holds true for the start of a cabinet term in particular. With social and economic circumstances changing all the time, adjustments are needed now and then. The House of Representatives monitors the implementation of the plans set out in the budget bills. The government renders account for this. An independent institution, the Netherlands Court of Audit, gives its opinion afterwards on whether the money has been well spent.

Budget bills

Before the cabinet can carry out its proposals, parliament has to consider and approve them. The budgets of the respective government departments are presented in the form of budget bills. In autumn, both the House of Representatives and the Senate discuss these bills. Some proposals are amended and adapted, others are rejected whilst some are adopted immediately without any modifications. Only the House of Representative has the right of amendment and can make changes to budget bills. The Senate does not have the right of amendment. Just as is the case with any other Act, the Head of State has to sign budget Acts. The minister who is responsible for the budget has to sign as well.