Public Expenditure: Meaning & Nature,Canons of public expenditure/Principles of Public Expenditure

Public Expenditure: Meaning & Nature,Canons/Principles of Public Expenditure



Public expenditure is spending made by the government of a country on collective needs and wants such as pension, provision, infrastructure, etc. Throughout the 19th Century, most governments followed laissez faire economic policies & their functions were only restricted to defending aggression & maintaining law & order. The size of pubic expenditure was very small.But now the expenditure of governments all over has significantly increased. In developing countries, public expenditure policy not only accelerates economic growth & promotes employment opportunities but also plays a useful role in reducing poverty and inequalities in income distribution.


“Public expenditure refers to the expenditure incurred by the central,state  or local government of a country for its own administration,social welfare,economic development and for providing help to other countries.”


The nature of public expenditure differs from country to country as per the needs and requirements of the country.In developing country,like India,government has a unique role to play with a vision of socio-economic makeover and attainment of higher rate of growth with social justice. Public spending in developed countries is basically undertaken to check the fluctuation in effective demand.In developing countries  public expenditure has the objective of socio-economic transformation and positioning a leading big emerging economy in the global setting in a developed country status.Public expenditure has multiplier effect on level of output and employment.As the public expenditure is made by the government for public goods,it also raises the real income and quality of life.But on one hand it has potential to raise the standard of living at the same time it also has the tendency to push up the price by injecting the purchasing power.So cost of living also increases.

Canons of Public expenditure/Principles of Public Expenditure

There are several principles suggesting maximization of gains of public expenditure.These principles are called canons of public expenditure.

1.Canon of Benefit

Findly Shirras states “ Other things being equal,public expenditure should be made in such a way that society gets major benefits which, in turn,may increase production,protect against external aggressions maintain the internal order,and may possibly reduce the economic inequalities. “

Achievement of these objectives can be possible only when public expenditure is made  not for an individual or a class,but for the whole society.By studying the effect of public expenditure on the distribution of income and wealth production economic development etc. assessment can be made regarding their benefits. A major canon of public expenditure is the canon of maximum social benefit.

2. Canon of Economy

It implies that public expenditure should be incurred carefully and economically. Economy here means avoidance of extravagance and wastages in public spending. Public expenditure must be productive and efficient.

Hence, it must be incurred only on very essential items of common benefit, without duplication, in a way that involves minimum cost. An efficient system of financial administration is, therefore, very essential in any country.

3.Canon of Sanction 

Another important principle of public expenditure is that before it is actually incurred, it should be sanctioned by a competent authority.  Unauthorised spending is bound to lead to extravagance and over-spending.  It also means that the amount must be spent on the purpose for which it was sanctioned. As a rule, therefore, money must be spent on the purpose for which it is sanctioned by the highest authority and accounts be properly audited.

Public Expenditure: Meaning & Nature,Canons of public expenditure/Principles of Public Expenditure

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