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Government Finance Statistics (General Government): Year ended June 2016
Embargoed until 10:45am  –  16 December 2016
Data quality
Period-specific information
This section contains data information that has changed since the last release.
General information 
This section contains information that does not change between releases.

Period-specific information

Reference period

This information release presents Government Finance Statistics (GFS) for local, central, and general government for the years ended June 2009 and 2016.

New general government consolidation

This release is the first official publication of New Zealand's general government compiled under the GFS framework. General government consolidates all the subsectors of government and eliminates funding flows and balance sheet positions held between them. In New Zealand, central and local government are the subsectors of general government to be consolidated. General government figures enable international comparability between countries with different structures of government – such as Australia which has a state sub-sector that New Zealand does not. A breakdown for the local and central subsectors will be available within the general GFS publication. This replaces two previously separate publications.

Improved timeliness for the local and central GFS data

The data timing for the existing central and local government subsectors will be brought forward seven and five months, respectively, as a result of the December release date.

The improved timeliness means the underlying Local Authority Census (LAC) data for GFS local government will be unavailable for the latest GFS published year in the future. In the absence of LAC data, we calculate provisional estimates for local government using a mixture of survey data, alternate data collections, and imputation methodology. In subsequent publications, we will replace the provisional estimates from the previous year with LAC data and calculate new estimates for the latest year.

New balance sheet categories

This year's GFS publication will include a more-detailed breakdown of balance sheet categories. Some existing categories may be revised down, or removed entirely, as a result of reclassifying the underlying instruments. The new categories are:

Financial assets: 'Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)', 'Financial derivatives', 'Insurance technical reserves', and 'Other accounts receivable'.

Liabilities: 'Special Drawing Rights (SDRs)', 'Financial derivatives', and 'Other accounts payable'.

New gross and net debt memorandum items

We have introduced an official gross and net debt time series for each government sector compiled under the GFS framework. These debt figures are derived using international best practice methodology consistent with the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 and the Public Sector Debt Statistics 2013 [PDF, 231p].

General information 

Accuracy of the data

Internationally, GFS are presented in a consistent format. However, there may still be underlying data capture, measurement, and recognition-point differences between countries that may affect cross-country comparisons.

Consistency with other periods or datasets

The set of concepts and principles that make up the GFS is one of the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) four macroeconomic standards. The other three are the balance of payments, national accounts, and money and banking (financial) statistics. As the concepts behind GFS are consistent with these other statistics, GFS estimates are directly comparable with them.

We compile information in this release in accordance with the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001. The IMF released the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2014 (GFSM 2014) in March 2015. We intend to implement GFSM 2014 at a later date.

Generally, the central government GFS estimates are compiled consistently with Treasury GFS, but we use a bottom-up and line-by-line approach rather than Treasury's top-down approach. We have worked with Treasury to reconcile our GFS estimates.

We treat income from water rates as sales of goods and services in the GFS, rather than as taxation revenue. This is different from this income's treatment in the Local Authority Financial Statistics (LAFS).


Conceptually, GFS treats individual government entities within a specified sector as if they were all the same single entity, and nets off all transactions (and assets and liabilities) that this entity has with itself. This process is called 'consolidation'.

Data sources

Central government: We derived data in the accompanying Excel tables primarily from Treasury’s database (CFISnet) and supplemented it with information from annual reports, survey data, and data direct from ministries. This differs from Treasury's GFS estimates, which are solely derived from CFISnet.

Local Government: We derived the data in the accompanying Excel tables from our annual Local Authority Census (LAC), supplemented by information from individual local authority annual reports and subsequent enquiries to councils. LAC data is unavailable for the latest GFS published year so we use a combination of methods and surveys to create provisional estimates.

Interpreting the data

Central government: The GFS central government operating balance differs from the operating balance published in the Crown accounts, due to differences in coverage and scope.

The main reason for the difference is that in a GFS framework impairments and write-offs on financial assets are not considered an expense item. For example, bad debts written off by Inland Revenue are not included as a GFS expense for central government.

The central government sector includes all core Crown departments and most Crown entities. State-owned enterprises are public non-financial corporations and therefore we do not include them in the scope of the GFS central government sector.

We exclude some Crown entities, such as Housing New Zealand, as they operate as market entities. A market entity provides goods or services at prices that are economically significant. However, equity ownership of the market-operating Crown entities and state-owned enterprises is included in the balance sheet as a financial asset. This is consistent with the GFS manual but may differ from the GFS estimates produced by Treasury.

According to the GFSM 2001, net debt includes all financial assets and liabilities except shares and other equity and financial derivatives. We include cash and deposits, loans, securities, retirement plan liabilities, insurance liabilities, other non-equity assets, and other non-equity liabilities in our calculation of net debt.

Local government: While the scope of local government includes all local authorities and local government special-purpose entities, the actual coverage does not include many special-purpose entities. This undercoverage is not expected to materially affect any output we produce. Development contributions are fees that local government charges developers for building subdivisions and other new buildings. Financial contributions are charges that fund local authorities' management of natural and physical resources. City and district councils receive revenue from a petrol tax that is collected by oil companies and returned to councils. This revenue is available for general expenditure by the council. We treat charges, such as admission and parking fees, as sales of goods and services and they are therefore not included in taxation revenue.

Local Authority Financial Statistics

The information and media releases of the Local Authority Financial Statistics (LAFS) are no longer available from the year ended June 2014. We made this decision as part of our commitment to using GFS as the preferred framework for reporting on government fiscal activity and to avoid confusion from releasing two sets of statistics that use the Local Authority Census (LAC). The LAFS series contains financial information that can be broken down for individual local authorities. We will continue to update this on Infoshare with the arrival of new LAC data.

See Infoshare: Subject categories - Local Authority Financial Statistics - LAF

Understanding the tables

While the GFSM 2001 recommends a particular layout for each table, it recognises that different transactions have greater or lesser importance in some countries than others. We used our discretion for the final format of the following tables – to adapt to New Zealand’s circumstances. Generally, the layout of the tables is consistent with the manual’s recommendations. A brief description of the content and purpose of each table follows.

Table 1 – Operating statement (local, central, and general government): A summary of the government’s accrual transactions in a given accounting period. The statement is similar to a company's statement of financial performance but also includes transactions in non-financial assets (eg land, buildings, infrastructure, and intangibles). We treat provisions and valuation or other changes as other economic flows in GFS rather than as transactions.

Table 2 – Balance sheet (local, central, and general government): Records the market value of a government's stock of financial and non-financial assets, liabilities, and net worth at the end of each accounting period.

Table 3 – General government expenses by function (local, central, and general government): Shows the functional split of total operating expenses and total net acquisition of non-financial assets from the operating statement. Compiled under the Classification of the Functions of Government (COFOG) framework.

Table 4 – Taxation revenue (local, central, and general government): Identifies the different types of tax charged by government.

Table 5 – Non-financial assets reconciliation (local, central, and general government): Brings together the transactions in non-financial assets (except inventories) included in the operating statement, the balance sheet values, and the actual or implied other economic flows associated with those same assets (ie valuation or other changes) between successive balance dates.

Confidentiality and accessing the data

Data collected and information contained in this publication must conform to the provisions of the Statistics Act 1975. This requires that published information maintains the confidentiality of individual respondents.


Each year we make revisions arising from new and more up-to-date information.

More information

Further information on GFS and the concepts and principles behind them is in the IMF's Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001).

Statistics in the release have been produced in accordance with the Official Statistics System principles and protocols for producers of Tier 1 statistics for quality. They conform to the Statistics NZ Methodological Standard for Reporting for Data Quality.


While all care and diligence has been used in processing, analysing, and extracting data and information in this publication, Statistics NZ gives no warranty it is error-free and will not be liable for any loss or damage suffered by the use directly, or indirectly, of the information in this publication.


Timed statistical releases are delivered using postal and electronic services provided by third parties. Delivery of these releases may be delayed by circumstances outside the control of Statistics NZ. Statistics NZ accepts no responsibility for any such delays.

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