Public budget

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The public budget is the summary representation of public finance and fulfills the purposes of accounting according to cameralistic principles for budgetary bodies such as the federal government , federal states , municipalities , municipal associations as well as public law institutions and public corporations . This is also the case internationally, although there is a discernible move away from cameralistic principles to the double , especially in the case of state subdivisions. The future budget is recorded in the budget .


As legal entities under public law, budget-managing bodies do not pursue the commercial principle of profit maximization like companies do , but rather cover expenditure . The so-called requirement coverage principle dominates the public budgets in particular. Therefore productivity and profitability considerations are not in the foreground, which is why the comparison of income and expenditure is sufficient and any income surplus is not referred to as a profit , but is a surplus . Public bodies are also not in competition, but exercise a sovereign administrative monopoly. A budget is sufficient for these purposes. Since 2003, however, efforts have been made in Germany to gradually introduce the Doppik on the basis of the German Commercial Code (HGB) as part of the new municipal financial management , in particular because economic efficiency and economy principles also apply under municipal law. Internationally, in particular, annual financial statements for state subdivisions are prepared in duplicate (Switzerland, USA, Canada).


The budget fulfills various tasks, depending on the level of government subdivision. While the state budget has overarching expenditure structures (e.g. national defense, development aid, interest on government bonds), the budgets of state subdivisions are characterized by population-related expenditure (municipal investments, social transfer payments). The main task of such households is to operate an infrastructure that is available to all members of society as a state service within the framework of services of general interest . This includes, for example, the education system, the legal system, the security system or the health system. The economic aspects of public budgets are the subject of an independent academic discipline, finance . The budget is one of the most important planning instruments of public authorities. It must be drawn up regularly (e.g. Section 78 Paragraph 1 GemO NRW) and based on a specific future period of one calendar year (Section 78 Paragraph 3 GemO). It is systematically broken down into detailed items (“chapter”, “title”), which is uniformly binding in the municipal budget regulation. It develops a binding effect both externally and internally. In relation to the citizen it has a normative character in that the tax rates are fixed for the budget year. The budget is binding for the administration insofar as tasks and measures can only be carried out according to the stipulations made in the budget; In particular, orders, investments and other expenses may only be issued within the framework of the budget available and if they are provided for in the budget (Section 85 (1) GemO). The decision on the budget is one of the most important tasks of the municipal council (§ 41 Paragraph 1 h GemO).

Budget balance

The aim of a budget is to balance the budget . This postulate is of central importance for household economics. The budget is not to be understood in a purely formal , accounting sense. Formally, every household is balanced. Rather, a material budget balance is required, which is only fulfilled if the budget-managing body can meet the interest and repayment obligations for loans from its current income in addition to its current expenditure. At the federal level, the budget balance is the difference between income and expenditure under budget law, with credit market transactions, reserve movements, settlements in cash surpluses and deficits and coin income being removed from the income and expenditure (Section 13 (4) BHO).

On mutual dependencies of budget balances and risks from budget balancing.

A material budget balance is difficult because the income is based on tax estimates, while the majority of the expenditure is already determined by law. Coverage problems will therefore arise when the budget is being implemented if the income is less than planned. The local balance is then equalized when the supply from the administration to the capital budget at least the height of the scheduled repayments corresponds. Extraordinary repayments are not taken into account. If the amount allocated to the asset budget is higher, the budget-managing body has a “free tip”; if it is lower, the budget has a budget deficit. In practice, however, it is not enough to simply compare the addition to the asset budget and the ordinary repayment; because as a rule the mandatory allocation is estimated in the budget. A deficit is then shown by the fact that the planned expenditure of the administrative budget in total exceeds the income available for this. Often the budget balancing works arithmetically only when funds from the property budget flow into the administrative budget. De facto, this is the use of assets (mostly from the sale of land or municipal holdings) to finance ongoing expenses. If a budget balance cannot be achieved in the case of municipalities, a budget security concept is required (Section 76 (1) GemO).

In terms of budget law, “free tip” is the positive balance of the administrative budget after deducting the scheduled loan repayments, which is to be paid to the asset budget. The budget balance is the normalized result, expressed in budget deficit or budget surplus (“free peak”). This result represents the balance of the administrative budget under the condition of maintaining substance. However, a free peak is not a meaningful indicator of budgetary stability. It can also result from the maneuvering mass of the substitute cover funds, from the release of reserves or asset sales. According to § 106 HessGemO, a reserve is to be set up to compensate for fluctuations in income and to ensure solvency. If it falls, assets that have been built up in previous years will be used up in the current household. Unless assets are acquired at the same time, there will be a depletion of assets. The warning limit is the reaching of the minimum amount (2% of the average expenditure of the administrative budget of the last three years according to § 20 paragraph 2 GemHVO). Since low repayments lead to a low minimum contribution to the asset budget, the more long-term the loan periods, the cheaper an administrative budget is. A debt spiral arises when the interest burden forces you to borrow again, which in turn leads to increasing interest expenses.

Economical and economical housekeeping

The principle of economical and economical budget management is anchored in the regional municipal regulations (e.g. Section 110 (2) NKomVG). Sound financial management implies economical action, taking into account the effects on the performance of tasks. This is taken into account if either a certain success ( minimum principle ) has been achieved with the least possible use of resources , or the best possible result ( maximum principle ) has been achieved with a certain use of resources . Legal transactions that grossly disregard public budget law and contravene the principle of economical and efficient budget management are immoral and therefore void , provided that the breach can be attributed to both parties. Economic efficiency in this sense is the recording of the optimal input-output ratio. However, simple cameralistics are not enough to make economic aspects completely transparent. Only the consumption of money is considered, but not the consumption of resources. For this reason, it was decided in Germany in 2003 to gradually switch to extended cameralistics (federal) or even double-entry.

See also

Individual evidence

  1. Gabler Wirtschaftslexikon, Volume 1, 1984, Sp. 517 f.
  2. Jan Schäfer-Kunz / Dietmar Vahs, Introduction to Business Administration , 2007, p. 5
  3. ^ Willi Albers, Concise Dictionary of Economics , 1980, p. 556
  4. ^ Willi Albers, Concise Dictionary of Economics , 1980, p. 554
  5. OVerwG Lüneburg, decision dated 30 April 2010, Ref. 10 ME 186/09
  6. Klaus Beckhoff, in: Lower Saxony Municipal Constitutional Law , as of March 2010, § 82 NGO Rn. 4th
  7. BGH, judgment of January 25, 2006, NVwZ-RR 2007, 47 (48 Rn. 28)

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