On 19 February 1997, the ABS issued an Information Paper titled Developments in Government Finance Statistics (Cat. no. 5516.0) which foreshadowed the adoption of an accruals basis of recording government finance statistics (GFS). The first release of accrual GFS was expected to be in the 1999 issue of Government Finance Statistics (Cat. no. 5512.0), in respect of data for 1997–98. However, this did not occur as jurisdictions were at different stages in implementing accrual accounting in their public accounts and budget management systems.
The ABS now expects to publish the first experimental accrual-based GFS in the next Government Financial Estimates (Cat. no. 5501.0) in respect of data for 1998–99 and 1999–2000. As jurisdictions are at different stages in providing accrual data to the ABS in a format suitable for GFS purposes, the ABS is unable at this time to release the full range of data that are expected to be available in future GFS publications and special data services. The forthcoming issue of 5501.0 will therefore contain data for the general government sector only. Some data for the public non-financial, public financial and total public sectors will also be available on request.
It is intended that future publications will also include reconciliations of the GFS measures Net Operating Balance, Net Lending/Borrowing and Net Worth with those produced by each jurisdiction as required under Australian Accounting Standards (AAS), and those of the Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) produced by the ABS. These reconciliations will be done so as to both maintain the integrity of, and user confidence in, each set of data and to show the links between them.
The present Information Paper has been prepared to help users of GFS understand the changed nature and presentation of the statistics. This paper outlines the conceptual changes to be reflected in government finance statistics and the changed format for the tables.
The ABS will also prepare a new edition of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods (Cat. no. 5514.0), which will contain detailed descriptions of the new concepts, classifications, data sources and methodology used in compiling the Australian GFS. This document is expected to be released in the latter half of 2000.
Users interested in more details of the issues discussed in this Information Paper should contact the ABS officers listed the topic Further Information.
T. J. Skinner
Acting Australian Statistician
13 March 2000