First Aid for Forecasts

The Netherlands Court of Audit has developed a tool to help the House of Representatives better understand the forecasts made in the central government budget. The audit report Budget Leeway in the Forecasts? Multiyear forecasts audited, published in June 2021, concludes that the assumptions and data ministers use to make their forecasts are sometimes incorrect or out of date. The Court of Audit’s tool, First Aid for Forecasts, is a practical guide to increase parliament’s insight into forecasts.

A forecast is an estimate of the obligations, expenditure and revenue of agreed policy. The draft budgets sent to the House of Representatives on Budget Day are estimates of the budget to be approved for the coming financial year. A multiyear forecast also estimates the expenditure foreseen in the next four financial years. Parliament currently has too little insight into how much money will be needed to carry out existing policy.

Forecasts are a technical subject but by definition their consequences are political and social. To get a grip on this technical subject, First Aid for Forecasts enables the House to put specific questions to ministers to increase their understanding of how they arrive at their forecasts. The Court hopes the tool will strengthen parliament’s ability to approve the budget.

The First Aid for Forecasts is only available in Dutch.