Unless indicated, all figures presented in this publication are current prices, original series.
For the latest information on COVID-19 and economic support impacts, please visit the Government Finance Statistics quarterly publication.
Two articles are included in this publication:
- Classifying COVID-19 policy interventions during 2019-20 in macroeconomic statistics which examines the key COVID-19 policies during 2019-20 and their treatments in this publication and the National Accounts.
- Public sector debt analysis 2019-20 which examines key general government public sector debt on a net basis (L2) statistics for the 2019-20 financial year.
|General government sector||Non-financial public sector||Total public sector (a)|
|GFS revenue||685 187||747 288||758 503|
|GFS expenses||792 174||863 068||880 371|
|GFS net operating balance||- 106 987||- 115 780||- 121 868|
|Net acqusition of non-financial assets||43 560||52 783||52 823|
|GFS net lending(+)/borrowing(-)||- 150 547||- 168 563||- 174 691|
|Cash operating results|
|GFS cash surplus(+)/deficit(-)||- 135 024||- 149 650||- 150 004|
|Balance sheet results|
|Total assets||2 583 776||2 747 367||3 170 330|
|Total liabilities||1 897 502||2 061 093||2 484 056|
|GFS net worth||686 274||686 274||686 274|
- nil or rounded to zero (including null cells)
a. The total public sector comprises general government, public non-financial corporations and public financial corporations. The sum of individual levels of government or sectors may not agree with the total public sector figures due to transfers between level of government.
The L2 measure of public sector net debt comprises debt securities, loans, Special Drawing Rights and currency and deposits. It is the measure most comparable to government reporting of net debt under the Uniform Presentation Framework (UPF).
- Using the GDP annual series as published in Table 36 in the December quarter 2020 issue in Australian National Accounts: National Income, Expenditure and Product.
COVID-19 impacted Government Finance Statistics in the 2019-20 year across all levels of government, both as a result of changes in policy and through changes in economic activity. The year saw the fastest and largest fiscal response to an economic event in modern Australian history, with several hundred policy interventions announced across all levels of government. For additional information:
- an article has been included in this publication Classifying COVID-19 policy interventions during 2019-20 in macroeconomic statistics
- the May 2020 article Economic measurement during COVID-19: Selected issues in the Economic Accounts
- The Australian Statistician's Analytical Series articles: Droughts, fires, cyclones, hailstorms and a pandemic – the March quarter 2020 and A series of unprecedented events – the June quarter 2020
- ABS data measuring the broader impact of COVID-19 can be found via abs.gov.au/covid19
Accounting standard changes
The following Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) standard changes have been introduced in government financial reporting for periods from 1 July 2019 onwards, leading to increased divergence in certain circumstances between economic statistics publications and government financial reporting:
- Leases (AASB 16): The standard removes the distinction between operating and finance leases on the lessee side of financial reporting. The conceptual distinction between operating and finance leases still remains in economic statistics. GFS outputs are consistent with the historical treatment.
- Revenue recognition (AASB 15 & 1058): The standard requires revenue to be recognised when performance obligations are met in certain circumstances. In GFS the change primarily affects grant revenue received by state and territory governments from the Commonwealth. Recognition of grant revenue in GFS remains consistent with the historical treatment which is based on when jurisdictions have access to the funding as reported by the Commonwealth.
- Service Concession Arrangements (AASB 1059): The standard impacts ownership of non-financial assets. It applies a control concept to determine non-financial asset ownership. Non-financial asset ownership in GFS is determined based off a risk-reward concept consistent with the historical treatment which has been maintained in economic statistics.
Transactions related to visa application changes
In December 2015, the Commonwealth Government released the 2015-16 Mid-Year Economic and Fiscal Outlook (MYEFO) which included a reclassification of visa application charges (VAC). These charges are now treated as taxation revenue rather than sales of goods and services. This reclassification has been applied to GFS, with no impact on total GFS revenue or the GFS net operating balance. The National Accounts statistics maintains coherence with previously published data and classify this transaction as sales of goods and services. This treatment will remain in place until the upcoming 2020-21 release of the National Accounts. These charges will then be classified as taxation revenue rather than sales of goods and services.
Accrual of JobKeeper subsidy expenses
GFS and National Accounts statistics accrue subsidy expenses related to JobKeeper on a daily basis.
Timing recognition of the Boosting Cash Flows for Employers subsidy expense
GFS and National Accounts statistics recognises the subsidy expense when the business receives payments after submitting activity statements and having met all requirements. This timing difference in recording the Boosting Cash Flow for Employers support program causes a divergence between the Commonwealth Government Final Budget Outcomes and ABS published Statistics.
Classification of Public Private Partnerships arrangements
The ABS continues to review and determine which institutional sector has economic ownership of assets being acquired (constructed) and operated to ensure consistent classification and more stable macroeconomic statistics.
Assets linked to Public Private Partnership (PPP) projects are now allocated to one sector only for the entire life of the PPP contract (i.e. through both the acquisition (construction) and operations phases). This means that risks and rewards during both phases are considered at the same time when determining ownership.
The application of these principles to all public capital projects has resulted in reconciliation differences to the financial statements of some states and territories, as the ABS has determined a different economic owner of particular assets during the construction phase.