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In 2000-01, the Government Financial Statistics (GFS) Net Operating Balance for the consolidated public sector for all Australian governments combined was $10,983m and GFS Net Lending was $6,496m.
The system of GFS is designed to provide statistical information on public sector entities in Australia classified in a uniform and systematic way. GFS enables policy makers and other 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 is based on international standards set out in the System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93) and the International Monetary Fund's A Manual of Government Finance Statistics.
The GFS conceptual framework is divided into a number of separate statements, each of which is designed to draw out analytical aggregates or balances of particular economic significance and which, taken together, provide for a thorough understanding of the financial positions of jurisdictions individually and collectively. These published statements are the Operating Statement, the Cash Flow Statement, and the Balance Sheet.
The Operating Statement presents details of transactions in GFS revenues, GFS expenses and the net acquisition of non-financial assets for an accounting period. GFS revenues are broadly defined as transactions that increase net worth and GFS expenses as transactions that decrease net worth. Net acquisition of non-financial assets equals gross fixed capital formation, less depreciation, plus changes in inventories and plus other transactions in non-financial assets. Two key GFS analytical balances in the operating statement are GFS Net Operating Balance (NOB) and GFS Net Lending(+)/Borrowing(-).
GFS NOB is the difference between GFS revenues and GFS expenses and a positive balance means that revenue exceeds expenses. It reflects the sustainability of government operations. GFS Net Lending(+)/Borrowing(-) represents the government's call on the financial sector and reflects the economic impact of government operations. It is equal to NOB minus the total net acquisition of non-financial assets. A positive result reflects a net lending position while a negative result reflects a net borrowing position.
The Cash Flow Statement identifies how cash is generated and applied in a single accounting period. 'Cash' means cash on hand (notes and coins held and deposits held at call with a bank or other financial institution) and cash equivalents (highly liquid investments which are readily convertible to cash on hand at the investor's option and overdrafts considered integral to the cash management function).
The Cash Flow Statement reflects a cash basis of recording (the other statements are on an accruals accounting basis) where the information has been derived indirectly from underlying accrued transactions and movements in balances. This, in effect, means that transactions are captured when cash is received or when cash payments are made. Cash transactions are specially identified because they allow the compilation of the cash-based Surplus(+)/Deficit(-) measure and because the management of cash is often considered an integral function of accrual accounting.
The Surplus(+)/Deficit(-) is a broad indicator of a sector's cash flow requirements. When it is positive (i.e. in surplus), it reflects the extent to which cash is available to government to either increase its financial assets or decrease its liabilities (assuming that no revaluations and other changes occur). When it is negative (i.e. in deficit), it is a measure of the extent to which government requires cash, either by running down its financial assets or by drawing on the cash reserves of the domestic economy, or from overseas borrowing.
The Balance Sheet is the statement of an entity's financial position at a specific point in time. It shows the entity's stock of assets, liabilities and GFS Net Worth. GFS Net Worth is an economic measure of 'wealth' calculated as assets less liabilities for the general government sector and as assets less liabilities less shares and other contributed capital for the public non-financial corporations and public financial corporations sectors.
Information Paper: Accruals-based Government Finance Statistics (5517.0)