The main functions of government are the provision of non-market services, the regulation of economic and social conditions, and the redistribution of income between sections of the community. These activities are primarily financed by taxation and are carried out by entities in the general government sector. In addition to this core activity, governments can also own or control enterprises that sell goods or services to the public and which operate largely on a commercial (or market) basis (public non-financial corporations) or engage in financial intermediation (public financial corporations).
The Australian system of Government Finance Statistics (GFS), which is used to derive the statistics presented in this chapter, is designed to provide statistical information on public sector entities in Australia classified in a uniform and systematic way. GFS enable policy makers and users to analyse the financial operations and financial position of the public sector at either the level of a specific government, institutional sector or set of transactions. The GFS system is based on international standards set out in the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) and the draft accrual version of the International Monetary Fund's A Manual of Government Finance Statistics.
The public sector comprises general government entities and public financial and public non-financial corporations. These entities are described in the next section. This is followed by an outline of the roles of the different levels of government and a description of the GFS classifications.
Until recently, GFS comprised only cash-based statistics for general government. Accrual-based data have always been compiled for public corporations. The most recent GFS publication containing accrual-based GFS, Government Finance Statistics 1999-2000 (5512.0), was released in July 2001.
An article containing a guide to accrual-based GFS sets the scene for accrual-based statistics for the total public and general government sectors for 1999-2000 for:
- all governments combined;
The remainder of the chapter deals with taxation revenue. It presents, for the general government sector, the amount of tax collected in 1999-2000 by level of government and type of tax.
- the State Governments; and