Business of false budgets

January 27, 1995

Double-entry book-keeping has a special meaning at Copenhagen's School of Economics and Business Administration. The school has knowingly presented false budgets to the ministry of education to ensure sufficient funds for operations.

"We have one budget that we present to the ministry and another that we use internally," admitted Jakob Voltelen, the head of administration at Handelshojskolen, to Magisterbladet, a newsletter for graduates.

"We deliberately budgeted salaries to the limit, as that gave us a large amount of room for manoeuvre."

The ministry does not allow funds earmarked for operations to be transferred to salaries; but transfers from the salary budget to operations are permitted.

The school which over-budgeted salary expenses by 10 to 17 million krone (Pounds 1.04 to Pounds 1.77 million) a year in recent years, is not alone in financial manoeuvring.

Helge Muhle Larsen, the head of administration at the University of Odense, also admitted to over-budgeting, amounting to 4.3 per cent of the salary budget "to build up a financial stockpile". Danish higher education institutions had an aggregate surplus of 73 million krone on salaries in 1993 -- equivalent to more than 200 full-time jobs.

One politician has asked Mogens Lykketoft, the Danish minister of finance, to investigate. "It is the politicians who make priorities and distribute public funds, not the individual institutions," says Peter Duetoft, the chairman of the finance committee of the Danish parliament.

"The clever ones must not be allowed to cheat the less clever."

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