Estimates, Imprest Supply and Supplementary Estimates
On Tuesday, 21 June the House is to debate the second readings of the Appropriation (2010/2011 Supplementary Estimates) Bill and the Imprest Supply (First for 2011/12) Bill. This 3-hour combined debate is part of the process for ensuring parliamentary oversight of the spending of public money. It will be followed by consideration of two amendments to the Supplementary Estimates bill by the House in Committee.
The Estimates are the Government’s spending plans for the coming financial year. They are published as part of the Budget documents on the day the Budget is delivered (19 May in 2011). The Budget process involves the scrutiny of the Estimates and, ultimately, their approval by Parliament through the passing of an Appropriation Bill. They are a key mechanism for ensuring parliamentary oversight of the spending of public money.
The Estimates are arranged into ‘Votes’, which correspond to ministerial portfolios - for example, Vote Education, Vote Health, Vote Internal Affairs. They are referred to select committees for scrutiny. Select committees will often hear evidence from the Minister responsible for a Vote and from the departmental officials who administer it. These meetings may be open to the public.
Select committees have 2 months from Budget day to report on their examination of each Vote. The committee report on a Vote recommends to the House whether it should authorise the Government’s proposed expenditure.
Select committee reports on the Estimates will be published on this website.
Imprest Supply and Supplementary Estimates
Since the main Appropriation Bill approving the Estimates for the next financial year will not be passed until after that year starts (on 1 July 2011), the Government needs interim authority to cover public spending in the meantime. This interim authority is provided through the passing of an Imprest Supply Bill before the end of June. An Imprest Supply Bill also may provide interim authority for the Government to adjust its activities or respond to unexpected situations, and it is not unusual for more than one such bill to be passed in each financial year.
Spending that occurs under the authority of an Imprest Supply Bill must later be approved through another Appropriation Bill, which is accompanied by further detailed documents known as "Supplementary Estimates". The Supplementary Estimates covering changes to spending and liabilities during the closing (2010/11) financial year were presented by the Minister of Finance on Budget day, and were referred to the Finance and Expenditure Committee (one of the select committees) for examination. The Appropriation Bill to approve these Supplementary Estimates for the closing financial year will be passed before the end of June, probably alongside the first Imprest Supply Bill for the new financial year.
One unusual feature this year is the consideration of amendments to the Supplementary Estimates by the House in Committee. No Committee of the whole House stage is required for an Appropriation (Supplementary Estimates) bill unless changes to the Supplementary Estimates are proposed by the Minister or by a select committee. This year, the Government has proposed additional spending in relation to recovery following the Canterbury earthquakes. Details of the Supplementary Estimates needed for this purpose could not be finalised between the earthquake on 22 February 2011 and Budget day, meaning an addition to the Supplementary Estimates is necessary. The Finance and Expenditure Committee considered this additional spending separately and reported to the House.
For more information see the related links on this page.