Part D - Time of recording of transactions in non-financial assets

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Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods
Reference period


In GFS, transactions are recorded at the time that economic value is created, transformed, exchanged, transferred, or extinguished. Paragraphs 8.13 and 8.14 of the IMF GFSM 2014 state that transactions in nonfinancial assets are recorded when economic ownership is obtained or relinquished. When a change of ownership is not obvious, a good indication of change of ownership may be derived from the time of recording by the other parties to the sales contract, or when there is a change in physical possession or control of the asset. Non-financial assets acquired or disposed of by means of a financial lease are deemed to be acquired or disposed of when the lease is signed or economic control of the asset otherwise has changed hands. Economic ownership of assets is further discussed in Chapter 8 Part B of this manual.


Paragraph 8.15 of the IMF GFSM 2014 indicates that the time of recording of the acquisition of a new nonfinancial asset may depend on how the asset is acquired. In particular:

  • If the asset is acquired from a producing unit as a finished good, then the timing is determined in the same manner as for the purchase of an existing asset, that is, when economic ownership changes hands. Typically, this time is not the time at which the asset was produced nor the time at which it is put to use in production.
  • When another unit produces a structure under a contract of sale agreed in advance with the general government unit, and the production extends over more than one reporting period, then ownership of the structure is deemed to be transferred to the government unit as work proceeds; stage or progress payments may approximate the value of the transactions in non-financial produced assets to be recorded. If the contract does not specify the time of the ownership transfer, then the time of the stage or progress payments may be used. In the absence of a contract of sale, the incomplete production each period is added to work in progress of the contractor.
  • When production is carried out on own account, there is no formal transfer of ownership. The producing unit effectively takes possession progressively as production proceeds, so that the asset is acquired as each transaction involved in its production is recorded. For example, if a public sector unit constructs a building using its own workforce, then the materials and services used and the work performed by employees are treated as acquisition of the non-financial produced asset, as work takes place.
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