Chamber wants to end spending unnecessary money without parliamentary approval The Chamber has checked.

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Minister Kaag during the accountability debate
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The cabinet must stop spending money urgently without the approval of the House of Representatives. A broad majority in the House believes that the emergency procedure is being used unnecessarily too often, as became apparent during the annual accountability debate. It looks back at last year’s ‘household book’.

The law gives the cabinet the option of circumventing parliament in exceptional cases in the event of urgent expenditure. This may involve, for example, rescuing a bank that is about to collapse or in the event of a dike breach that needs to be remedied quickly.

But studies by the Court of Audit, which were presented on 17 May, show that the government again often used that procedure last year without it being really necessary. Member of Parliament Eelco Heinen of the VVD mentioned examples such as the purchase of ventilators for schools and the costs of commemorating the slavery past.

The budget was adjusted no less than 51 times in the interim in 2022, for a total amount of almost 42 billion euros. About half of that was spent before the House of Representatives had given permission.

Prince’s Day

Just about the entire House of Representatives wants the cabinet to return to the normal budget system, with effective control by parliament. This means that the budget will be presented on Prinsjesdag and that adjustments can still be made at two times, in the spring and in the autumn.

Incidental expenditure must be reduced as much as possible and the emergency procedure without prior parliamentary scrutiny completely. Heinen has submitted a proposal for this.

He believes that the route should only be used outside parliament in situations for which it is intended. The law states that it must concern a crisis situation, where delay is “not in the interest of the country”. Whether this is the case is now up to the Minister to decide. A note to inform the House is sufficient.

Heinen wants the House to be able to put a stop to it if that letter does not sufficiently substantiate that there is really a matter of urgency. For example, a minister must indicate what goes wrong if he or she has to wait for parliament.

He thinks that the cabinet will learn its lesson if the House steps on the brakes a few times. Various other parties in the House of Representatives responded positively to Heinen’s plan.

Kaag: downward trend

Minister Sigrid Kaag (Finance), as manager of the treasury, is also happy with the proposal. “I support the intention, it is the right direction,” she said, although she has suggestions to improve the proposal. She wants to discuss this in the near future. She thinks that “a valve is needed for when there is a real urgency”.

Kaag says he wants nothing more than to reduce the number of interim adjustments to the budget. “Rest, cleanliness and regularity are also important in financial management.”

She says things are going better than in the past. This year it has only happened seven times. Five times that was to make support for Ukraine possible. “There really is a downward trend, we have to maintain that,” said the minister.

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