Financial Control

The National Council approves the Federal Budget and exercises concomitant budgetary control. Its instrument of financial control is the Court of Audit.

Adoption of the Budget and Concomitant Budgetary Control by the National Council

The National Council adopts the annual Draft Federal Framework Budget and the Draft Federal Budget (“budgetary sovereignty“), to which the Federal Council cannot raise any objections. The Budget Committee, whose task is the preliminary deliberation on the Draft Federal Budget, also participates in budget management on behalf of the National Council (“concomitant budgetary control“) and deliberates on the relevant reports to be transmitted by the Federal Minister of Finance (see also Parliament and the Budget).

The Court of Audit Examines the Use of Budget Funds

As an organ of the National Council, the Court of Audit is in charge of auditing all state finances. It not only presents its annual activity report to the National Council but may at any time draw the Council’s attention to whatever it has observed in the course of its activity. The National Council or a minority of twenty Members may prevail on the Court of Audit to perform special audits, though the number of special audits that may at any time be performed at the request of a minority is limited to three, of which a maximum of two may have been called for by one and the same parliamentary group.

Court of Audit reports are discussed in the Court of Audit Committee, which can call witnesses and interrogate them in a public hearing.

The Court of Audit also has to submit to the National Council the annual Final Federal Budget Accounts, which list all revenue received and expenditures made in the course of the past fiscal year. The final accounts are approved by the National Council in the form of an enactment which cannot be vetoed by the Federal Council. The approval “discharges” the Federal Government of its responsibilities with regard to its use of budget funds (“management“).

Instructing the Standing Sub-Committee of the Court of Audit Committee to Investigate Certain Events

By decision of the National Council or in response to a request made by one quarter of its Members, the Standing Sub-Committee of the Court of Audit Committee may also be instructed to investigate specified matters relating to an event in the management of the federal budget subject to the control of the Court of Audit. At no time can more than one such investigation called for by a minority be pending. The deliberations of Standing Sub-Committee of the Court of Audit Committee are confidential. The Standing Sub-Committee of the Court of Audit Committee is sometimes referred to as a “little investigating committee“, though its competences are different from those of an investigating committee properly speaking.