Exercising budgetary power is one of Parliament's basic tasks, along with enacting legislation. Parliament exercises this power by approving the Budget.
The Budget estimates central government revenues and expenditure for the coming year. Expenditure is divided into main titles by administrative sector. These are further divided into classes and items. Revenues, mostly from taxes, are divided in a similar manner.
The Government submits its Budget proposal to Parliament in the middle of September. In practice Parliament takes about three months to consider the Budget. This begins with a preliminary debate in plenary session, which is one of the most important debates of the year. The Minister of Finance generally takes the floor first and outlines the Budget. At the end of the preliminary debate the Budget proposal is referred to the Finance Committee.
After being considered by the Finance Committee, the Budget proposal goes back to the plenary session. Deliberation at this point lasts several days and may include hundreds of votes.
The Budget covers only part of public sector revenues and expenditure. Local authorities pay for the bulk of social and health services and are also entitled to levy taxes.
Finland has several off-budget funds. Unincorporated state enterprises are not included in the Budget. The Social Insurance Institution, through which large amounts of benefits are paid to citizens, is also excluded from the Budget as far as financing goes.