Part C - The underlying statistical standards

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Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods
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The Australian GFS system is based on two important international statistical standards:

  • the system of national accounts embodied in System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA), issued jointly by the United Nations (UN), the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the Commission of European Communities, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the World Bank; and
  • the International Monetary Fund Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (IMF GFSM 2014), which is the international statistical standard for compiling GFS developed by the IMF (in consultation with member countries). The current version was released in 2015, and it replaced the version released in 2001.


The 2008 SNA can be seen as an ‘umbrella’ standard with which a number of other international statistical standards are ‘harmonised’. The harmonised standards use 2008 SNA statistical concepts and, to a degree, use common classifications and items, enabling links between the harmonised system and the SNA to be readily established. The IMF standard for GFS is such a harmonised system.


The 2008 SNA is a statistical framework relating to the whole of an economy and covers government activities only as a component. The 2008 SNA also differs from the GFS system in that its central focus is on economic concepts such as production, whereas the GFS system concentrates mainly on fiscal concepts such as revenues and expenses.


The Australian System of National Accounts (ASNA) is aligned with international standards for national accounts set out in the 2008 SNA. There are close links between the ASNA and Australia’s GFS system, which is the main source of ASNA statistics about the general government sector and public non-financial corporations. The GFS system is designed to provide data that can be used in compiling the national accounts and the two data systems have many concepts in common.


The IMF GFS standard is internationally accepted as the appropriate framework on which to base the preparation and presentation of GFS. Therefore, the core definitions and descriptions in this manual are deliberately intended to be consistent (where possible) with equivalent descriptions and definitions in the IMF GFSM 2014. The ABS provides GFS to the IMF for publication with similar statistics for all IMF member countries. Because these statistics are prepared according to the IMF standard, they can be used to compare Australian government finance with the government finance of the other member countries. In publishing GFS for Australia, the ABS includes minor adaptations of the IMF standard, only deviating where necessary to meet local needs. Details of where the AGFS15 deviates from the IMF GFS standards are provided in Chapter 17 of this manual.


Harmonisation of the GFS system with the SNA ensures that users of GFS can relate the statistics to national accounts data for the whole economy and other sectors. International statistical standards relating to the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM 6) and the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual (MFSM) are also harmonised with the SNA. Therefore, where these statistics use concepts that are also used in the GFS system, the concepts are defined in the same way as in the GFS system.

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