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Australian Government Coat of Arms

Budget | 2015-16

Budget 2015-16
Australian Government Coat of Arms, Budget 2015-16

Statement 9 (continued)

AASB 1049 History and conceptual framework

The Australian Accounting Standards Board (AASB) released AASB 1049 for application from the 2008‑09 financial year. AASB 1049 seeks to 'harmonise' ABS GFS and AAS.

The reporting framework for AASB 1049 requires the preparation of accrual‑based general purpose financial reports, showing government assets, liabilities, revenue, expenses and cash flows. GGS reporting under AASB 1049 aims to provide users with information about the stewardship of each government in relation to its GGS and accountability for the resources entrusted to it; information about the financial position, performance and cash flows of each government's GGS; and information that facilitates assessments of the macroeconomic impact. While AASB 1049 provides a basis for whole‑of‑government and GGS outcome reporting (including the PNFC and PFC sectors), budget reporting focuses on the GGS.

AASB 1049 has adopted the AAS conceptual framework and principles for the recognition of assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses and their presentation, measurement and disclosure. In addition, AASB 1049 has broadly adopted the ABS GFS conceptual framework for presenting government financial statements. In particular, AASB 1049 requires the GGS to prepare a separate set of financial statements, overriding AASB 10 Consolidated Financial Statements. AASB 1049 also follows ABS GFS by requiring changes in net worth to be split into either transactions or 'other economic flows' and for this to be presented in a single operating statement. AASB 1049 is therefore broadly consistent with international statistical standards and the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001.1

All financial data presented in the financial statements are recorded as either stocks (assets and liabilities) or flows (classified as either transactions or other economic flows). Transactions result from a mutually agreed interaction between economic entities. Despite their compulsory nature, taxes are transactions deemed to occur by mutual agreement between the government and the taxpayer. Transactions that increase or decrease net worth (assets less liabilities) are reported as revenues and expenses respectively in the operating statement.2

A change to the value or volume of an asset or liability that does not result from a transaction is an 'other economic flow'. This can include changes in values from market prices, most actuarial valuations, and exchange rates, and changes in volumes from discoveries, depletion and destruction. All other economic flows are reported in the operating statement.

Consistent with the ABS GFS framework, and in general AAS, the financial statements record flows in the period in which they occur. As a result, prior period outcomes may be revised for classification changes relating to information that could reasonably have been expected to be known in the past, is material in at least one of the affected periods and can be reliably assigned to the relevant period(s).

Operating statement

The operating statement presents details of transactions in revenues, expenses, the net acquisition of non‑financial assets (net capital investment) and other economic flows for an accounting period.

Revenues arise from transactions that increase net worth and expenses arise from transactions that decrease net worth. Revenues less expenses gives the net operating balance. The net operating balance is similar to the National Accounts concept of government saving plus capital transfers.

The net acquisition of non‑financial assets (net capital investment) equals gross fixed capital formation, less depreciation, plus changes (investment) in inventories, plus other transactions in non‑financial assets. This measures the net effect of purchases, sales and consumption (for example, depreciation of fixed assets and use of inventory) of non‑financial assets during an accounting period.

Other economic flows are presented in the operating statement and outline changes in net worth that are driven by economic flows other than revenues and expenses. Revenues, expenses and other economic flows sum to the total change in net worth during a period. The majority of other economic flows for the Australian Government GGS arise from price movements in its assets and liabilities.

Fiscal balance

The fiscal balance (or net lending/borrowing) is the net operating balance less net capital investment. Thus, the fiscal balance includes the impact of net expenditure (effectively purchases less sales) on non‑financial assets rather than consumption (depreciation) of non‑financial assets.3

The fiscal balance measures the Australian Government's investment‑saving balance. It measures in accrual terms the gap between government savings plus net capital transfers, and investment in non‑financial assets. As such, it approximates the contribution of the Australian Government GGS to the balance on the current account in the balance of payments.

Balance sheet

The balance sheet shows stocks of assets, liabilities and net worth. In accordance with the UPF, net debt, net financial worth and net financial liabilities are also reported in the balance sheet.

Net worth

The net worth of the GGS, PNFC and PFC sectors is defined as assets less liabilities. This differs from the ABS GFS definition for the PNFC and PFC sectors where net worth is defined as assets less liabilities less shares and other contributed capital. Net worth is an economic measure of wealth, reflecting the Australian Government's contribution to the wealth of Australia.

Net financial worth

Net financial worth measures a government's net holdings of financial assets. It is calculated from the balance sheet as financial assets minus liabilities. This differs from the ABS GFS definition of net financial worth for the PNFC and PFC sectors, defined as financial assets, less liabilities, less shares and other contributed capital. Net financial worth is a broader measure than net debt, in that it incorporates provisions made (such as superannuation) as well as holdings of equity. Net financial worth includes all classes of financial assets and all liabilities, only some of which are included in net debt. As non‑financial assets are excluded from net financial worth, this is a narrower measure than net worth. However, it avoids the concerns inherent with the net worth measure relating to the valuation of non‑financial assets and their availability to offset liabilities.

Net financial liabilities

Net financial liabilities comprises total liabilities less financial assets but excludes equity investments in the other sectors of the jurisdiction. Net financial liabilities is a more accurate indicator than net debt of a jurisdiction's fiscal position as it includes substantial non‑debt liabilities such as accrued superannuation and long service leave entitlements. Excluding the net worth of other sectors in government results is a purer measure of financial worth than net financial worth as, in general, the net worth of other sectors of government, in particular the PNFC sector, is backed up by physical assets.

Net debt

Net debt is the sum of selected financial liabilities (deposits held, government securities, loans, and other borrowing) less the sum of selected financial assets4 (cash and deposits, advances paid, and investments, loans and placements). This includes financial assets held by the Future Fund which are invested in these asset classes, including term deposits and investments in collective investment vehicles. Net debt does not include superannuation related liabilities. Net debt is a common measure of the strength of a government's financial position. High levels of net debt impose a call on future revenue flows to service that debt.

Cash flow statement

The cash flow statement identifies how cash is generated and applied in a single accounting period. The cash flow statement reflects a cash basis of recording (rather than an accrual basis) where information is derived indirectly from underlying accrual transactions and movements in balances. This, in effect, means that transactions are captured when cash is received or when cash payments are made. Cash transactions are specifically identified because cash management is considered an integral function of accrual budgeting.

Underlying cash balance

The underlying cash balance plus net Future Fund earnings (ABS GFS cash surplus/deficit) is the cash counterpart of the fiscal balance, reflecting the Australian Government's cash investment‑saving balance.

For the GGS, the underlying cash balance is calculated as shown below:

Net cash flows from operating activities
Net cash flows from investments in non‑financial assets
Net acquisitions of assets acquired under finance leases and similar arrangements5
ABS GFS cash surplus/deficit
Net Future Fund earnings
Underlying cash balance

The Government has excluded net Future Fund earnings from the calculation of the underlying cash balance. Prior to the 2012‑13 MYEFO, the underlying cash balance only excluded the gross earnings of the Future Fund. Under the Future Fund Act 2006, earnings are required to be reinvested to the meet the Government's future public sector superannuation liabilities. The Future Fund becomes available to meet the Government's superannuation liabilities from 2020.

In contrast, net Future Fund earnings are included in the fiscal balance because superannuation expenses relating to future cash payments are recorded in the fiscal balance.

Net Future Fund earnings are separately identified in the Australian Government GGS cash flow statement in Table 3 of this statement and related tables in Statement 3: Fiscal Strategy and Outlook, and Statement 10, Historical Australian Government Data.

Headline cash balance

The headline cash balance is calculated by adding net cash flows from investments in financial assets for policy purposes and net Future Fund earnings to the underlying cash balance.

Cash flows from investments in financial assets for policy purposes include equity transactions and net advances.6 Equity transactions include equity injections into controlled businesses and privatisations of government businesses. Net advances include net loans to the States, net loans to students under the Higher Education Loan Program (HELP), and contributions to international organisations that increase the Australian Government's financial assets.

Sectoral classifications

To assist in analysing the public sector, data are presented by institutional sector as shown in Figure 1. ABS GFS defines the general government sector (GGS) and the public non‑financial corporations (PNFC) and public financial corporations (PFC) sectors. AASB 1049 has also adopted this sectoral reporting.

Figure 1: Institutional structure of the public sector

Figure 1: Institutional structure of the public sector

All entities are classified as GGS entities except for the following list of portfolio entities that are classified as PFC or PNFC (Table A1).

A table which provides a full list of public sector principal entities is available on the Department of Finance website.

Table A1: Entities outside of the general government sector

Public financial corporations

Employment Portfolio

Coal Mining Industry (Long Service Leave Funding) Corporation

Finance Portfolio

Medibank Private Ltd*

Foreign Affairs and Trade Portfolio

Export Finance and Insurance Corporation

Treasury Portfolio

Australia Reinsurance Pool Corporation, Reserve Bank of Australia

Public non‑financial corporations

Attorney General's Portfolio

Australian Government Solicitor*

Communications Portfolio

Australian Postal Corporation, NBN Co Ltd

Finance Portfolio

Albury‑Wodonga Development Corporation*, ASC Pty Ltd, Australian River Co. Ltd*

Industry and Science Portfolio

ANSTO Nuclear Medicine Pty Ltd

Infrastructure and Regional Development Portfolio

Airservices Australia, Australian Rail Track Corporation Ltd, Moorebank Intermodal Company Ltd

Prime Minister and Cabinet Portfolio

Voyages Indigenous Tourism Australia Pty Ltd

Social Services Portfolio

Australian Hearing Services

* Medibank Private Ltd, Australian Government Solicitor, Albury‑Wodonga Development Corporation and Australian River Co. Ltd have ceased operations or are expected to cease operations as separate Commonwealth entities on or by 1 July 2015.

1 Additional information on the Australian accrual GFS framework is available in the ABS publication Australian System of Government Finance Statistics: Concepts, Sources and Methods, 2005 (cat. no. 5514.0).

2 Not all transactions impact on net worth. For example, transactions in financial assets and liabilities do not impact on net worth as they represent the swapping of assets and liabilities on the balance sheet.

3 The net operating balance includes consumption of non-financial assets because depreciation is an expense. Depreciation also forms part of net capital investment, which (in the calculation of fiscal balance) offsets the inclusion of depreciation in the net operating balance.

4 Financial assets are defined as cash, an equity instrument of another entity, a contractual right to receive cash or financial asset, and a contract that will or may be settled in the entity's own equity instruments.

5 The underlying cash balance treats the acquisition and disposal of non-financial assets in the same manner regardless of whether they occur by purchase/sale or finance lease —acquisitions reduce the underlying cash balance and disposals increase the underlying cash balance. However, finance leases do not generate cash flows at the time of acquisition or disposal equivalent to the value of the asset. As such, net acquisitions of assets under finance leases are not shown in the body of the cash flow statement but are reported as a supplementary item for the calculation of the underlying cash balance.

6 Cash flows from investments in financial assets for policy purposes are often referred to as net advances.