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Note: There is a trade-off between accuracy, revisability and detail on the one hand, and timeliness of the release of statistics on the other. Generally, with given resources, significant improvements in timeliness can only be made at the expense of detail, accuracy, or revisability.
Compilation of balance of payments statistics is a complex task and, given the variety of data sources and methods used, there is no single comprehensive measure of the quality of these estimates. To get an overall picture of the quality of these estimates, all the measures of quality listed below need to be viewed together while taking into account their limitations.
Net Errors and Omissions
The adoption of the double entry accounting system of recording means that, in principle, the sum of all credit and debit entries should be zero. In practice this rarely occurs, and any differences are recorded in the net errors and omissions item. The item reflects the net effect of differences in coverage, timing and valuation, as well as errors and omissions which occur in compiling all the individual component series. Persistently large figures in one direction (negative or positive) may be taken as an indication of serious and systematic errors.
A detailed explanation of the remaining quality measures may be found in Information Paper: Quality of Australian Balance of Payments Statistics 1996 (ABS Cat. no. 5342.0).