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Adjustments made to HFCE

Australian System of National Accounts: Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period
2020-21 financial year

10.25    The following outlines the adjustments that are made to some or all HFCE categories.

Net expenditure overseas

10.26    This item is included in HFCE COICOP categories 01-12 (excluding 04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels) as an adjustment so that total HFCE reflects the expenditure of resident households (in Australia and overseas) only. This adjustment is necessary because a number of the data sources for HFCE come from sales reported by Australian businesses. These sales include the expenditure by overseas visitors (treated as an export) and do not include expenditure of Australian overseas (recorded as an import).  Expenditures by overseas visitors on fares, meals, accommodation, entertainment, recreation and other goods and services in Australia are deducted from the appropriate HFCE categories while expenditures by Australian residents abroad are added.  

10.27    HFCE net expenditure overseas (NEO) is derived using Services Debits and Credits data obtained from Tables 8 and 9 in Balance of Payments and International Investments Position, Australia

10.28    Calculation of NEO is a two-stage process. The first stage estimates the total value of NEO while the second allocates expenditure to the appropriate HFCE category. The total value of NEO is calculated by offsetting two items against each other; namely, the expenditure of Australian residents abroad (debits) and the expenditure of non-residents in Australia (credits).

10.29    It should be noted that NEO does not include online purchases by Australian households from international websites. These are encompassed in the annual HFCE benchmarks, chiefly through alignment with data obtained from the Household Expenditure Survey (HES).

10.30    The expenditure of residents overseas is calculated as the sum of two items:

  • Personal travel debits; and
  • Expenditure of Australian Government employees.

10.31    Personal travel debits, as adjusted for national accounting purposes, record the acquisition of goods and services abroad by residents travelling at their own expense, including students. Business travellers are not included as their expenditure is largely intermediate consumption of the employing business. Examples are purchases of accommodation, meals, ground transportation and tours.

10.32    The estimate for personal travel debits is calculated as the sum of two original current price Balance of Payments series: Services Debits - Travel - Personal - Education-related and Services Debits - Travel - Personal - Other services. State/Territory splits are derived using proportions from the ABS publication, Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia.

10.33    Expenditure of Australian Government employees records the personal expenditure on goods and services by Australian diplomats and their dependants stationed abroad. It is also based on an original current price Balance of Payments series: an unpublished lower level component of Services Debits – Government goods and services n.i.e. State/Territory estimates are derived using figures on the number of Australian government employees abroad.

10.34    The expenditure of non-residents in Australia is derived by aggregating three items:

  • Business travel credits;
  • Personal travel credits; and
  • Expenditure of foreign government employees.

10.35    Business travel credits cover expenditures on goods and services by seasonal and non-resident workers employed in Australia, and by travellers who visit, for business purposes, on behalf of an enterprise resident in another economy. The Balance of Payments series for Business travel credits is Services Credits – Travel – Business. State/Territory splits are derived using proportions from the ABS publication, Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia.

10.36    Personal travel credits record expenditures on goods and services in Australia by non-residents travelling at their own expense, for purposes other than business. The estimate for personal travel credits is calculated as the sum of two original current price Balance of Payments series: Services Credits – Travel – Personal – Education-related and Services Credits – Travel – Personal – Other services. State and Territory estimates are again calculated using proportions from Overseas Arrivals and Departures, Australia.

10.37    Expenditure of foreign government employees records the personal expenditure in Australia on goods and services by foreign diplomats and their dependants stationed in Australia. It is based on the unpublished lower level component of the Balance of Payments series Services Credits – Government goods and services i.e. State/Territory estimates of the expenditure of foreign government employees in Australia are derived using information on the number of foreign diplomats.

10.38    Total NEO is calculated by subtracting the expenditure of non-residents in Australia from the expenditure of Australia residents overseas. This is then allocated to various categories of HFCE using information from the International Visitor Survey, published by Tourism Research Australia. Data on expenditure from this survey is used to derive weights for the HFCE categories, which are then applied to the total NEO estimate.

10.39    Quarterly and annual estimates of total NEO in current price terms are published as a memorandum item in Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product and Australian System of National Accounts.

Tourist refund scheme

10.40    An adjustment is made to applicable HFCE categories for the Tourist Refund Scheme (TRS), whereby individuals are able to claim back, under certain conditions, the goods and services tax (GST) and wine equalisation tax (WET) on goods purchased in Australia.

10.41    Information regarding the value of refunds from this scheme, broken down by type of good, is obtained quarterly from the Australian Border Force. These data are then allocated to the appropriate HFCE categories.

10.42    Adjustments for the TRS are made to the following COICOP categories:

2.1Alcoholic beverages;
03Clothing and footwear;
05Furnishings and household equipment;
09Recreation and culture; and
12Miscellaneous goods and services.

Low value threshold

10.43    An adjustment is made to applicable HFCE categories for goods imported into Australia that fall below the Low Value Threshold (LVT) of $1,000. This adjustment covers purchases by Australian households from international websites.

10.44    Information regarding the value of goods imported that fall below the LVT are provided by Australian Customs. Various scope and coverage adjustments are applied to this data. These data are then allocated to the appropriate HFCE categories.

10.45    Adjustments for the LVT are made to the following COICOP categories:

01Food and non-alcoholic beverages
02Clothing and footwear
05Furnishings and household equipment
06Health
07Transport
09Miscellaneous goods and services
12Recreation and culture

Underground economy

10.46    This adjustment attempts to capture the understatement in HFCE due to activities occurring in the underground economy. Measuring the Non-Observed Economy: A Handbook, a publication jointly authored by the OECD, the IMF, the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Interstate Statistical Committee of the Commonwealth of Independent States, defined the underground economy as covering "those activities that are productive and legal but are deliberately concealed from the public authorities to avoid payment of taxes or complying with regulations".

10.47    In HFCE, the understatement is most likely to result from businesses under-reporting retail turnover in the source data used for the compilation of household expenditure estimates.

10.48    Annual estimates of home production are incorporated into S-U benchmarks. The annual value of self-supplied food is based on estimates of the amount of food produced for home consumption from the ABS publication, Home Production of Selected Foodstuffs, Australia. The value of homemade alcohol is based on estimates of the amount of alcohol produced for home consumption from the publication cited above.

10.49    Estimates for the underground activity occurring in the various HFCE categories are calculated as proportions of the expenditure estimates. The factors used have been compiled based on analysis by the ABS. These are not varied from year-to-year but are subject to periodic review. For more information, refer to Information Paper: The Non-Observed Economy and Australia’s GDP, 2012.

10.50    In ASNA, adjustments for the underground economy are made to the following COICOP categories:

01Food;
03Clothing and footwear;
05Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance;
07Transport;
09Recreation and culture;
11Restaurants and hotels; and
12Miscellaneous goods and services.

Repair and maintenance

10.51    This adjustment represents the expenditure by households on the repair and maintenance of various HFCE products, other than those captured in the Repair and maintenance not identified elsewhere component of HFCE Other Services (COICOP Group 12.5).

10.52    The sources used to derive estimates of household expenditure such as retail sales do not include spending on repairs and maintenance, therefore making it necessary to adjust for this expenditure separately.

10.53    Data on the total repair and maintenance expenditure by households is benchmarked irregularly to the Household Expenditure Survey, Australia: Summary of Results. Quarterly estimates are obtained by interpolating and extrapolating these benchmarks. Total repair and maintenance expenditure is broken down into HFCE product categories by applying weights, also obtained from the Household Expenditure Survey.

10.54    Adjustments for repairs and maintenance expenditure are applied to the following COICOP categories:

03Clothing and footwear;
05Furnishings, household equipment and routine household maintenance;
09Recreation and culture; and
12Miscellaneous goods and services.