1. Introduction

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Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods
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Part A - Introduction


The term ‘government finance statistics’ refers to statistics that measure the financial activities of governments and reflects the impact of those activities on other sectors of the economy. The acronym ‘GFS’ is used throughout this manual to refer to government finance statistics. The term ‘the GFS system’ is used to refer to the data system that supports GFS. The data system includes the concepts and classifications applied, sometimes called the ‘statistical framework’, and the sources of data and methods used to compile the statistics. The subject of this manual is the GFS system in Australia but the discussion also embraces GFS, the product of that system.


The GFS system covers all activities of governments that can be measured in money terms. The system focuses on monetary measures of transactions and other economic flows that involve governments, and the money values of assets and liabilities held by governments. Examples of activities covered by GFS include government spending, lending, taxing, and borrowing. As well, the statistics include information about the value of government investments and debt.


The need for financial measures of government activities in their own right arises from the unique legislative and regulatory authority that governments can exercise over other institutional units in the economy. Australia’s GFS serve to meet the community’s demand for standardised and detailed financial information about the activities of all Australian governments.

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