47 Elizabeth II, A.D. 1998, Canada

Journals of the Senate


Issue 50 - Appendix

Thursday, March 26, 1998
2:00 p.m.

The Honourable Gildas L. Molgat, Speaker


THURSDAY, March 26, 1998

The Standing Senate Committee on National Finance has the honour to present its

FOURTH REPORT

Your Committee, to which were referred the 1998-99 Estimates has, in obedience to the Order of Reference of Wednesday, March 18, 1998, examined the said estimates and herewith presents its interim report.

The 1998-99 Estimates were tabled in the Senate on 18 March 1998, and referred for review to the National Finance Committee. As is customary with this Committee, a meeting were arranged for the initial review of the estimates. On Wednesday evening, 25 March 1997, Mr. Ovid Jackson, Parliamentary Secretary to the President of the Treasury Board, accompanied by his officials, appeared before the Committee and answered questions of concern to members of the Committee. If necessary, the officials are expected to return at a later date to respond to additional, and possibly more detailed, questions that members may have. At any subsequent meetings, officials of other departments may also be present.

There are four components to the government's estimates. They include the PART I, which provides an overview of federal spending by summarizing the key elements of the Main Estimates and highlighting the major changes. The PART II, which is traditionally referred to as the Blue Book, directly supports the Appropriation Act. It lists in detail the resources that individual departments and agencies require for the upcoming fiscal year. It also identifies the spending authorities and the amounts to be included in subsequent appropriations. In fiscal 1998-99, Part I and Part II are published in a single volume.

The third component of this fiscal exercise is physically the largest as it is made up of the 80 volumes collectively known as the Reports on Plans and Priorities (Part III). These Reports on Plans and Priorities (RPP) are the individual expenditure plans for each of the departments and agencies of the federal government, and are expected to be available late in March. The RPPs elaborate on, and supplement, the information contained in Part II. They provide increased levels of detail on a business line basis and contain information on objectives, initiatives and the plans of the departments and agencies.

The evaluation of performance is available in the fall. For instance, in November of 1997, the government tabled Performance Reports for the period ending 31 March 1997. These documents describe the results achieved against planned performance expectations that were set out in the corresponding Part III documents for the 1996-97 fiscal year. It is the government's intention to repeat this exercise in the fall of 1998, for the period ending on 31 March 1998.

THE EXPENDITURE PLAN AN OVERVIEW

The February 1998 Budget provides for planned expenditures of $148 billion, of which $43.5 billion is for public debt charges and $104.5 billion is for program spending. It should be noted that the Estimates will differ from the total budgetary expenditure forecast presented by the Minister of Finance in several ways:

- a number of items do not appear in the Estimates because of timing in the Budget decisions or because they depend on the passage of separate legislation;

-  the Estimates do not include funds that are set aside within the Expenditure Plan for operating contingency purposes or for items that are still subject to parliamentary or Treasury Board approval; and

- some spending authorities in the Estimates are expected to lapse.

An overall sketch of the Expenditure Plan is presented below in Table I. Of the $148.0 billion set out in the Main Estimates, $103.0 billion or 71% is statutory expenditures. At this time, parliamentary authority is being sought to spend the other $42.4 billion. Public debt charges are down $2.5 billion to $43.5 billion from last year's estimate of $46.0 billion.

Table I

The Expenditure Plan and Main Estimates, 1998-99
(in millions of dollars)

Voted Appropriations 42,423
Statutory Programs

Public Debt Charges 43,500
OAS/GIS/Spouse's Allowances 22,917
Employment Insurance 13,686
Fiscal Equalization 8,482
Canada Health and Social Transfers 11,626
Other Statutory Obligations 2,826
Total Main Estimates 145,460
Adjustments to Reconcile with Budget 2,540
Total Planned Budgetary Expenditures 148,000

Source: 1998-99 Main Estimates, Part I, p. 1-3.

The Committee found the table beginning on page 1-28, entitled Budgetary Main Estimates by Standard Object of Expenditures, is an excellent place to begin a general review of the Main Estimates. In this table, the spending plans of all departments and agencies are divided among 12 categories of expenditures. The summary provided by the table allows a quick comparison of spending intentions among the various agents of the federal government. For instance, although the Department of Finance is requesting the largest appropriation, most of its budget (69.3%) is composed of "public debt charges," an item that occurs in no other department's spending plans.

It is interesting to note that after so much fiscal restraint in recent years, there are still 18 departments or agencies that plan to spend over a billion dollars in fiscal 1998-99. The three largest budgets belong to the Department of Finance ($62.8 billion), the Department of Human Resources Development ($25.3 billion), and the Department of National Defence ($9.4 billion).

Respectfully submitted,

ANNE C. COOLS

Deputy Chair