Local Government Finance Statistics, NSW

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    Government Finance Statistics (GFS) refer to statistics that measure the financial transactions of governments and reflect the impact of these transactions on other sectors of the economy. GFS focuses on financial transactions such as governments' spending, lending, taxing and borrowing activities. The Australian system of GFS is designed to provide statistical information on Australian public sector entities (ie, general government (GG) and public non-financial corporations (PNFCs), classified in a uniform and systematic way. The 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 (IMF) Government Finance Statistics Manual.


    The statistics from this collection are compiled primarily to provide General Government and Public Corporations aggregates for the local government sector for GFS purposes. A further purpose is served of producing local government financial data at the Authority level. These objectives combined allow a complete picture of government financial activity in NSW to be produced. Generating a contribution to National Accounts is a third aim of the collection.


    All legal Local Government Councils and County Councils in NSW are in scope. Coverage is 100% of these.


    Conceptual framework

    The method of classification and aggregation of data items is based on the Classification Manual for Government Finance Statistics (GFS), 1989 (ABS Cat No. 1217.0) and the information paper, Accruals-based Government Finance Statistics, 1999 (ABS Cat No.5517.0) .

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

    With the adoption of accrual accounting (September '99) the new conceptual framework is now in the form of an integrated statement of stocks and flows derived from the System of National Accounts 1993 (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 5.3 Classifications (summary).

    Main outputs

    Government Finance Statistics (GFS) data. The statistics from this collection are primarily compiled to provide general government and public non-financial corporations aggregates. Data are currently published in a number of publications produced by National Accounts and Public Sector Accounts.


    A comprehensive account of the concepts applied in GFS is provided in Government Finance Statistics Australia: Concepts, Sources and Methods (ABS Cat No. 5514.0).

    Economic Type Framework (ETF) - This is the main classification for stocks and flows. It is structured as an input classification, unlike the previous cash accounting -based classification which was output oriented and focused on outlays, revenues and financing transactions. The new ETF resembles a set of financial accounting statements with sections for the operating statement, cash flow statement, balance sheet and other sections.

    Government Purpose Classification (GPC) - The GPC is used to classify revenues, expenses and net acquisition of non-financial assets of the public sector in terms of the purposes for which the transactions are made. The GPC is based on the SNA93 Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG). The use of this classification will be phased out commencing from 2003/04. The GPC classification will be replaced by the Local Government Purpose Classification (LGPC)

    Local Government Purpose Classification (LGPC) - NOT YET IN USE - The LGPC provides a structure to classify a range of financial transactions in terms of the purposes for which the transactions are made. These include outlays on final consumption expenditure, intermediate consumption, gross capital formation and capital and current transfers, by local government. Data collected according to LGPC will provide information on the socioeconomic effects of local government transactions. It will be also be useful in establishing trends in local government outlays on particular purposes over time. The units of classification are, in principle, individual transactions. This means that each purchase, wage payment, transfer, loan disbursement or other outlay should be assigned an LGPC code according to the function that the transaction serves.

    Taxes Classification (TC) - Taxes are broken down into the following broad categories -

      1. Taxes on income, profits and capital gains.
      2. Taxes on employer's payroll and labour force.
      3. Taxes on property.
      4. Taxes on provision of goods and services.
      5. Taxes on the use of goods and performance of activities.

    Source/Destination Classification (SDC) - The implementation of accrual GFS means that many more transactions are now subject to consolidation. The SDC facilitates this.

    Type of Asset Classification (TAC) - This classification incorporates the SNA93 distinction between produced (tangible and intangible) and non-produced (tangible and intangible) assets.

    Each statistical unit included in the GFS is classified according to a number of classifications including:

      • Institutional sector (General Government, Public Non-financial Corporation or Public Financial Corporation sector);
      • Level of government (Commonwealth, State, Local or Multi-jurisdictional);
      • State of jurisdiction; and
      • Industrial sector (ANZSIC).

    The statistics show, for the public sector:

      • Consolidated transactions (for all sectors), presented so that the economic impact and sustainability of government fiscal programs can be assessed;
      • The roles of the different levels of government in the undertaking and financing of their fiscal programs;
      • The transactions of the Commonwealth, individual State, Territory and Local governments, so they may be used to indicate the comparative standing of each level of government in relation to its expenditure, its sources of revenue, and its financing transactions.
    Other concepts (summary)

    System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93)

    New South Wales
    Legal Local Government Area

    Comments and/or Other Regions
    No exclusions.


    Frequency comments


    1994-95 (and earlier)
    During this period financial year data were collected directly from Councils but were reported on a form produced under the Local Govt Act. Data from this Administrative By-product collection were made available to the ABS. Data were in the public domain and were available on an individual Local Government authority basis for dissemination.

    1995-96 to 1999-00
    From 1995-96 the Local Govt Act requirements changed and Admin By-product data were no longer available. Consequently the ABS collected data using its own collection instrument for this period.

    Data for New South Wales LGAs for the 00-01 financial year were supplied to the ABS on a 17 page Excel spreadsheet based on the standard format of the Annual Statements of Accounts. All local authorities in NSW use Excel as their preferred spreadsheet. Data was collected from each local authority under the Census and Statistics Act 1905. Each council received a paper copy of the form as well as an Excel spreadsheet despatched via the Internet through a free service supplied by the Department of Local Government to government authorities in NSW. Completed forms were returned to ABS either as a paper version, on a floppy disk, or via the Internet either in a full or condensed format. The condensed format was available as an option to improve security and reduce the size of the file and could be expanded into a full form with several different types of edit checks built into the form. A load sheet was also incorporated into the form for uploading to TANDEM. Most of the forms were received via the Internet. At a later date, data was matched with information in published statements (which councils provided to the ABS).


    The collection was conducted by the NSW Department of Local Government using a combined (but not integrated) collection instrument which served both DLG and ABS requirements. Data were passed on to the ABS once collected by the NSW DLG. From the 2001-02 cycle this again became a purely Administrative By-product collection, collected under the authority of NSW DLG legislation.



    Data availability comments

    Data at the individual Local Government level are available as a Special Data Service from the ABS.
    Aggregated data are published in Government Finance Statistics, Australia (ABS Cat. No. 5512.0).

    21/03/2005 03:55 PM