Local Government Finance Statistics Quarterly Estimates

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    Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS)


    Government Finance Statistics (GFS) refers 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 quarterly 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.

    Estimates of GFS data are derived each quarter. After each June quarter, the estimates are summed to provide provisional annual estimates for the latest financial year.


    The statistics from this collection are primarily compiled to provide GG and PNFC aggregates of the local government sector for input to the quarterly national accounts. Quarterly GFS data are also used to produce the first annual estimates of 'actual' data for a given financial year.


    All local government units (councils and non-financial corporations) in Australia are in scope. Coverage of councils is complete. Coverage of corporations is complete apart from units with economically insignificant levels of activity.

    Survey aims to obtain information about General Government (GG) (council) sector and Public non-financial corporation (PNFC) sector. GG information is obtained by way of this survey. PNFC data are imputed/estimated on basis of responses derived in Annual financial survey conducted within that sector.


    Conceptual framework

    The Australian system of quarterly GFS is designed to provide statistical information about Australian public sector entities (GG & PNFC, only), 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 the accrual accounting system (September '99) the new conceptual framework is 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 accruals-based conceptual framework has required changes to most of the classifications used in the compilation of quarterly GFS. (See details in the Classifications Summary.)

    Main outputs

    The statistics from this collection are compiled primarily to provide GG and PNFC aggregates for input to the quarterly national accounts. The data also contribute to Government Finance Statistics Australia, Quarterly (Cat. No. 5519.0.55.001).


    Economic Type Framework (ETF) This is the main classification for stocks and flows. It is structured as an input classification, unlike the previous classification which was output oriented and focused on outlays, receipts 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).

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

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

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

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

    Each statistical unit included in GFS is classified according to a number of unit classifications including :
    1. Institutional sector (ie GG or PNFC sectors);
    2. Level of government (Commonwealth, state, local or multi-jurisdictional);
    3. State of jurisdiction; and
    4. Industrial sector (ANZSIC).

    Other concepts (summary)

    System of National Accounts 1993 (SNA93).

    New South Wales
    South Australia
    Western Australia
    Northern Territory
    Legal Local Government Area

    Comments and/or Other Regions

    There are no local government units in the ACT.


    Frequency comments


    Early 1960s First quarterly collection included in quarterly National Accounts data.

    1983 New mainframe system introduced. Prior to this date GG data were compiled manually, while public trading enterprise (PTE, equivalent to PNFC) data were generated from a computer based system.

    7/1992 New quarterly adjust system introduced.

    3/1993 First use of tailored forms for some units in quarterly GFS.

    12/1994 Conversion of Australian Standard Industrial Classification (ASIC) code to Australian and New Zealand Standard Industrial Classification (ANZSIC) code.

    9/1998 Changes introduced due to implementation of SNA93. These changes affected the treatment of the following items for GFS purposes:

      • Defence capital expenditure and current consumption;
      • Some social benefits;
      • Regulatory fees and user charges;
      • Fines and drivers' licences

    9/1998 Reclassification of central borrowing authorities from the general government sector to the public financial sector.

    9/1999 Conversion from Cash to Accrual accounting basis for both GG and PNFCs. This represented a break in GFS time series.

    9/2002 Prior to September quarter 2002, quarterly local government data were collected in all jurisdictions but with a differing methodology in each. Although certain items were included in each jurisdiction's collection there was a dissimilarity amongst much of the data being sought. The respondent sample had been (and up until 9/2004, continued to be) a judgment sample concentrating on the largest units within each jurisdiction. Imputation was performed on the basis of the response (with indexation) in the corresponding quarter of the previous cycle. Estimation was performed by the use of factors derived from an examination of outcomes from the annual local government finance data collection.
    There had previously been different collection instruments and systems set up in each state to collect quarterly data. After considerable liaison with stakeholders and providers, a standard electronic data reporting collection instrument was implemented in 9/2002 from which time a uniform set of data items were collected from a sample of units in each jurisdiction.

    9/2004 As a result of a comprehensive review of the survey methodology, scientific selection and stratification of the respondent sample was introduced. Resource constraints dictated that the sample size remain largely unchanged (at approx 80 units). It was believed that the improved methodology would generate better results form the survey.
    The new sample included a number of indigenous councils in NT for the first time, although data would cease to be collected from PNFCs but rather will be estimated on the basis of Annual survey findings.
    At the same time the number of items on the collection instrument was reduced as a result of consultation involving National Accounts, the primary user of the data, and Public Finance.


    Data availability comments

    Aggregate quarterly data are made available to National Accounts approximately five weeks after the end of the reference period and are incorporated into several tables published in Australian National Accounts: Financial Accounts (Cat. No. 5232.0), in conjunction with State government data. The data also contribute to Government Finance Statistics, Australia, Quarterly (Cat. No. 5519.0.55.001)

    07/03/2005 09:38 AM