2.1. International statistical standards play a significant role in the compilation of statistics by the ABS and statistical agencies in other countries. These standards are developed by the United Nations, International Monetary Fund (IMF)and other international organisations. The standards may focus at a macro-economic level, as in the System of National Accounts, or on selected statistics such as the balance of payments and government finance statistics.
2.2. The use of principles reflected in international statistical standards ensures that statistics produced by the ABS are comparable with those of other countries also using the standards. It also enables the ABS to fulfill reporting requirements by providing statistics to international agencies on the required basis.
SYSTEM OF NATIONAL ACCOUNTS
2.3. The System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93), produced jointly by the United Nations, IMF, World Bank, Commission of the European Communities and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, plays a pivotal role in the compilation of economic data by the ABS. It serves as an integrating framework for the collection and compilation of economic data for all sectors of the economy.
2.4. SNA93 provides a comprehensive framework for the compilation of economic data in a format designed to facilitate macro-economic analysis, decision taking and policy making. It has been adopted by the ABS as the conceptual basis for compiling the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA). The integrating nature of the standard also provides the ABS with a framework for improving the quality and consistency of data feeding into ASNA from different collection sources.
2.5. Following the release of SNA93, a number of other statistical standards with more in-depth focus on selected statistics have either been revised or are currently in the process of being revised. A fifth edition of the Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5), produced by the IMF, was published in 1993. It represents a revision to the fourth edition which was published in 1977. The IMF is currently drafting the Manual on Monetary and Financial Statistics to replace the Guide to Money and Banking Statistics, issued in 1985, and redrafting its Manual on Government Finance Statistics, issued in 1986.
CURRENT IMF MANUAL ON GOVERNMENT FINANCE STATISTICS
2.6. The IMF’s current guidelines on government finance statistics, A Manual on Government Finance Statistics (1986 edition), outlines a cash-based analytical and statistical framework for the compilation of government finance statistics. It provides guidelines and discussion on coverage, selection and preparation of data, analysis, classification and relationships with other data systems.
REVISION OF THE IMF MANUAL ON GOVERNMENT FINANCE STATISTICS
2.7. The Manual is being revised to an accrual basis of recording and to harmonise with SNA93 in other respects. This means that concepts that are common to both the system of national accounts and government finance statistics are defined in the same way. Where concepts are not common, they can be uniquely defined and applied in their respective systems; however, a well-harmonised system would ensure that links are established at appropriate levels so that inter-relationships are known.
2.8. The IMF commenced its revision of the Manual on Government Finance Statistics in March 1995 with the distribution of an Issues Note identifying the major items to be considered in the revision. This was followed in August 1996 with the release of 'GFS: An Annotated Outline' for comment. The annotated outline proposed a specific structure and content for the revised manual. In the light of comments received, the IMF has modified the structure of the proposed manual and, at the time of writing, has released some draft chapters for comment.
2.9. A final version of the revised manual is not expected to be available for quite some time as the process of revising international standards involves lengthy consultations between technical experts in international and national agencies.