2.17. The time of recording of transactions in balance of payments and international investment statistics is, in principle, the time of change of ownership (either actual or imputed). Under the double-entry system, both sides of a transaction should be recorded in the same period. This is consistent with the principle of accrual accounting, which requires that transactions be recorded when economic value is created, transformed, exchanged, transferred or extinguished.
2.18. Change of ownership is considered to occur when legal ownership of goods changes, when services are rendered and when income accrues. In the case of transfers, those which are imposed by one party on another, such as taxes and fines, should ideally be recorded at the moment at which the underlying transactions or other flows occur which give rise to the liability to pay; other transfers should be recorded when the goods, services etc. change ownership.
2.19. For financial transactions, the time of change of ownership is taken to be the time when transactions are entered in the books of the transactors. That is taken to be the time when a foreign financial asset or liability is acquired, relinquished by agreement, sold or repaid. The commitment or pledging of an asset does not constitute an economic transaction, and no entry should be shown unless a change of ownership actually occurs in the period covered. Likewise, the entries for loan drawings should be based on actual disbursements and not on commitments or authorisations. Entries for loan repayments should be recorded at the time they are due rather than on the actual payment date.
2.20. While both sides of a transaction should be recorded in the same period, in practice the time of recording of transactions in the balance of payments and international investment position statistics will reflect the practices in data sources, and may diverge from the principle of time of change of ownership. For Australia, transactions in goods credits (exported goods) are mainly recorded at the time when goods are shipped as this is assessed to be a generally good practical approximation of the time when ownership changes. Goods debits (imported goods) are recorded when customs records relating to the movement of the goods across the frontier are processed, again in the expectation that this is the best practical approximation to change of ownership that can be generally achieved. In both cases, however, timing adjustments are made for certain very high value goods to record them in the time period in which change of ownership occurs. For the remainder of the current account, the time of the recording of transactions generally complies with the time of change of ownership. Exceptions occur mainly because the record-keeping practices of some data providers may not be on this basis. Financial account transactions usually are recorded appropriately, that is, when the parties record transactions in their books. However, some transactions may be derived from information supplied by intermediaries that are not party to the transactions and may not be aware of the time of change of ownership. Also, some enterprises may adopt accounting practices that lead to inconsistent time of recording; a simple example is that different enterprises may close off their accounts at different times of day.
2.21. The time of recognising the stock of a foreign financial asset or liability follows naturally from the time of recording of a transaction in that asset or liability. For example, if a transaction is undertaken to acquire a foreign financial asset, there will also be a consequential increase in the stock of foreign financial assets at the end of that period. Of course, if the asset is disposed of before the end of the period, it will not contribute to the stocks statistics to be recorded for the period, but the disposal will have given rise to another transaction to be recorded for the period.