The political landscape, when we approach the end of the year, is dominated by the budget discussion an approval process. Too often, we forget that it is only the beginning of the public finances cycle, which lasts for more the budget year.
It starts earlier, in the previous year, with the preparation of the budget, a process involving all of the public administration. That phase ends with the submission of the Budget Law proposal to the Legislative Assembly. Once approved there, usually in December, the government is ‘armed ‘to start the coming fiscal year.
Then on the first day of the year, its execution begins. That’s the moment reality starts to either confirm or challenge the assumptions of the budget. Of course, the actual implementation will never be exactly what was desired or anticipated.
By the year-end, the execution will be done, and a new budget will be in the pipeline. The final stage starts. It aims to determine how exactly the budget was executed. What, if anything went wrong, were there significant deviations, and why?
The final account will show where the money came from and where it went. The report, which must be technically validated by the Audit Commission, is then presented to the Legislative Assembly.
One might expect that such a report was widely analyzed and discusses. After all, nothing says more about the real priorities and policies of a government than where it spends the money. However, that is seldom, if ever, the case.
The report from the previous year usually coincides with the final preparation of next year’s budget. The priority for most economic and social agents is to find out or influence what the next budget will have relevance for them. The execution is history. And so, passes a golden opportunity to assess policies and their outcomes based on factual, empirical data.
The discussion of the final account at the LA is seldom challenging or exciting. The lawmakers may occasionally ask for clarification or this or that point and request additional information. The final report will get a green light without much ado and will be published in the official journal.
Nothing says how we value it more than this. The budget is one of the most important legal documents for our collective life. It is a reserved power of the LA. The final accounts end up in the second series of the official journal as a simple publication made by the director of the Finance Department.