Public Finance and Private Finance
Generally, the word ‘finance’ is loosely used for both the public and private finance. By private finance, we mean the study of the income, debt and expenditure of an individual or a private company or business venture. On the other hand public finance deals with income, expenditure and borrowings of the government. There are both similarities and dissimilarities in governmental financial operations as compared to the monetary operations of private businessman. An individual is interested in the utilisation of labour and capital at his disposal to satisfy social wants. In short, both private finance and public finance have almost the same objective of satisfaction of human wants. Again, private finance stresses individual gains whereas public finance attempts at promoting social welfare of the whole community. These two view points are correct to greater extent only because of their similarities as well as dissimilarities between both.
Similarities between Public and Private Finance
1. Both the State as well as individual aim at the satisfaction of human wants through their financial operations. The individuals spend their income to satisfy their personal wants whereas the state spends for the satisfaction of communal or social wants.
2. Both the States and Individual at times have to depend on borrowing, when their expenditures are greater than incomes.
3. Both Public Finance and Private Finance have income and expenditure. The ultimate aim of both is to balance their income and expenditure.4. For both kinds of finances, the guiding principle is rationality. Rationality is in the sense that maximization of personal benefits and social benefits through corresponding expenditure.
5. Both are concerned with the problem of economic choice, that is, they try to satisfy unlimited ends with scarce resources having alternative uses.
Dissimilarities between Public and Private Finance
1. The private individual has to adjust his expenditure to his income. i.e., his expenditure is being determined by his income. But on the other hand the government first determines its expenditure and then the ways and means to raise the necessary revenue to meet the expenditure.
2. The government has large sources of revenue than private individuals. Thus at the time of financial difficulties the state can raise internal loans from its citizens as well as external loans from foreign countries. In the case of private individual, all borrowings are external in nature.
3. The state, when hard pressed, can resort to printing of currency, as an additional source of revenue. In fact, during emergencies like war, it meets its increased financial obligations by printing new currency. But an individual cannot raise income by creating money.
4. The state prepares its budget or estimates its income and expenditure annually. But there is no such limitation for an individual. It may be for weekly, monthly, or annually.
5. A surplus budget is always good for a private individual. But surplus budgets may not be good for the government. It implies two things. a) The government is levying more taxes on the people than is necessary and b) the government is not spending as much as the welfare of the people as it should.
6. The individual and state also differ in their motives regarding expenditure. The individuals hanker after profit. Their business operations are guided by private profit motive. But the states expenditure is guided by the welfare motive.
7. An individual’s spending policy has very little impact on the society as a whole. But the state can change the nature of an economy through its fiscal policies.
8. The pattern of expenditure in the case of private finance is often influence by customs, habits social status etc. The pattern of government expenditures is guided by the general economic policy followed by the government.
9. Private Finance is always a secret affair. Individual need not reveal their financial transactions to anyone except for filing tax returns. But Public Finance is an open affair. Government budget is widely discussed in the parliament and out sides. Public accountability is an important feature of public finance.
10. Individuals can plan to postpone their private expenditure. But the state cannot afford to put off vital expenditure like defence, famine relief etc.