Government Finance Statistics (Preliminary and Final Annual)

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)

    The system of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) 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 the financial position of the public sector at either the level of a specific government, sector, or a particular set of transactions.The system os based on international standards set out in the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) and the draft accrual verson of the International Monetary Fund's A Manual on Government Finance Statistics.

    GFS show, for the various components of the Australian public sector:

    • consolidated operating statements containing details of transactions in GFS revenues, GFS expenses and the net aquisition of non-financial assets, which focuses on the sustainability and economic impact of fiscal policy;
    • consolidated statements of stocks and flows of the Commonwealth and State government which can be used as indicators of their comparative standing; and
    • the roles of the different levels of government in undertaking and financing their fiscal programs.

    Annual estimates are produced in two phases on a forward annual and final annual basis. The phases provide a progessive refinement of the data over the cycle.

    Forward estimates and preliminary estimates:

    Each government's Treasury, as part of the government's budget formulation process, produces information which reflects the financial expectations of the government. The ABS compiles and publishes forward estimates (which are the first estimates for any given year) from these data. This phase includes the compilation of preliminary estimates for the latest financial year. However, given the budget timeframe, the accounts are not usually final or audited and preliminary estimates are still subject to revision.

    Final estimates:

    The final phase of the statistical cycle is the production of final annual statistics. These represent the most detailed and complete set of statistics for a financial year. They are based, wherever possible, on final audited accounts which are not finalised until well after the various government jurisdictions have delivered their budgets for the upcoming financial year. Since final data are compiled from audited data sources, they are rarely revised to any large degree, except where the conceptual treatment of items has changed.

    The statistics from this collection are used widely in macro-economic analysis and decision making. The data is used in Loan Council deliberations and is used extensively by the Commonwealth and State Treasuries and other analysts of public sector activity. The data are also used for input into the Annual National Accounts and revising of quarterly GFS and National Accounts series.

    Statistical units in the public sector fall within the scope of GFS in Australia. This includes all general government units, all public non-financial corporations and all public financial corporations at each level of government.

    Not all the in-scope units (ie units in the public sector) are currently covered by GFS. Moreover, some in-scope units are only covered in an indirect manner. Non-coverage may occur for a number of reasons, for example when:
    • units, transactions or values are judged to be relatively insignificant;
    • the costs of collection from smaller units outweigh the benefits;
    • information for units is captured indirectly; and
    • data are not readily available

    Units not directly covered include some of the smaller public entities, such as hospitals and the smaller commodity marketing authorities.
    Where organisations are largely funded from the Commonwealth and State budgets (ie public hospitals), some measures of their activities are indirectly covered by GFS. While such an indirect approach results, in most cases, in the bulk of the transactions being effectively recorded in GFS, it does leave out the 'own-source' or 'own-account' transactions.


    Conceptual framework
    The system of Government Finance Statistics (GFS) is designed to provide statistics about all public sector entities (ie, general government (GG), public non-financial corporations (PNFCs) and public financial corporations (PFCs) classified in a uniform and systematic way. The system is based on international standards in System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) and the draft accrual version of the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Government Finance Statistics Manual.

    With the adoption of the accrual accounting system for 1998-99, the new conceptual framework is in the form of an integrated statement of stocks and flows derived from SNA93. This differs significantly from the old cash-based framework which focused on selected flows and stocks. The new framework facilitates a more comprehensive assessment of the economic impact of government activity and the sustainability of fiscal policy. It also provides an improved basis for monitoring the efficiency in the allocation and use of government resources.

    The adoption of a new conceptual framework has required changes to most of the classifications used in the compilation of GFS. See details in the Classifications Summary.

    Main outputs
    Government Finance Estimates Australia (ABS Cat. No.5501.0) - issued annually
    Government Finance Statistics Australia (ABS Cat. No. 5512.0) - issued annually
    Taxation Revenue Australia (ABS Cat.No. 5506.0) - issued annually

    The final issue of the publication Expenditure on Education, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 5510.0) which contained data for 1997-98 was released on 17 September 1999. Educational expenditure statistics are now available to clients in the form of a special data service available electronically from the ABS website. This product contains information relating to government expenditure and revenue by jurisdiction relating to education as well as private expenditure on education. This special data service is entitled Government Finance Statistics, Education (ABS Cat. No. 5518.0.55.001)

    Economic Type Framework (ETF) - This is the main classification for stocks and flows. The ETF resembles a set of financial statements, with sections for an operating statement, a cash flow statement, and a balance sheet. In addition, there are two sections to cater for the reconciliation of accounting net operating result measures with cash flows from operating activities and to capture items like assets acquired under finance leases, intra-unit transfers, and revaluations and other changes in the volume of assets.

    Government Purpose Classification (GPC) - This classification is used to group operating expenses and expenditure on non-financial assets by purpose (education, health etc) with similar functions to facilitate the study of the braod function of public sector spending and the effectiveness of this spending in meeting government policy objectives.

    Taxes Classification (TC) - This classification dissects this major form of government revenue according to type of tax collected.

    Source/Destination Classification (SDC) - This classification identifies selected flows and stocks between units within and outside the public sector and this information is used in compiling consolidated statistics.

    Type of Asset Classification (TAC) - This classification is used to identify whether expenditure on non-financial assets (net) was on dwellings, transport equipment, land, etc. In accordance with SNA93 requirements, this classification distinguishes between produced (tangible and intangible) and non-produced (tangible and intangible) assets.

    Other concepts (summary)

    To compile statistics about the financial activities of a particular level of government, or any other grouping of public sector units, transactions and debtor/creditor relationships between units within the chosen grouping (sector or subsector) have to be matched and eliminated to avoid double counting. The process of matching and eliminating these items within the chosen group is known as consolidation.

    Consolidation is particularly important at the State government level where a significant proportion of total expenses/payments are financed by Commonwealth government grants. Similarly, an appreciable part of the expenditure undertaken by State PNFCs is financed by grants from State governments.

    1. National & State/Territory\1.01 Australia
    1. National & State/Territory\1.02 All States & Territories

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    not applicable


    Frequency comments
    not applicable

    Government Financial Estimates Australia (ABS Cat. No. 5501.0) first issue 1974-75
    Government Finance Statistics, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 5512.0) first issue 1989-90
    Conversion of industrial classification from Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC) coding to Australian and New Zealand Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) coding 1994-95
    Inclusion of universities in a separate multi-jurisdictional sector 1996-97
    Net advances (covering loans and repayment of loans for policy purposes and purchases/sales of equity) reclassified from capital outlays to financing transactions 1997-98 (This change resulted in a more useful measure of total outlays and removed the need to calculate the deficit adjusted for net advances.)
    Changes due to the implementation of SNA93. These changes have affected the treatment of the following items for GFS purposes 1997-98:

      • Defence capital expenditure and current consumption;
      • some social benefits;
      • Regulatory fees and user charges;
      • Fines and drivers' licences
    Reclassification of central borrowing authorities from the general government sector to the public financial sector 1997-98.
    Conversion from Cash to Accrual accounting basis for the general government sector 1998-99. (This represents a break in GFS time series)


    Data availability comments
    Forward estimates are released at least 7 months before the end of the financial year.
    Preliminary estimates are released 4 months after the end of the financial year.
    Final estimates are normally released 9 months following the end of the financial year.

    06/05/2002 05:59 PM