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Differences between Government Finance Statistics (Local Government) and Local Authority Financial Statistics

Data for Government Finance Statistics (Local Government) (GFS) and Local Authority Financial Statistics (LAFS) is collected in the Local Authority Census, a comprehensive and detailed questionnaire on the finances of local authorities.

The same data is used for both releases, but the results are presented differently: GFS presentation is based on economic concepts in the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001, while LAFS presentation is based on accounting standards used by local councils.

The differences in presentation are reflected in the operating balance reported in each release. GFS shows an operating surplus for 2009 to 2012, while LAFS has deficits for these years. The difference between these two series is net capital transactions, which are included in the GFS operating balance, but not the LAFS operating deficit.

 

 2009

 2010

 2011

 2012

 

 $(million)

GFS net operating balance 

 696

 908

 350

 508

Less: net capital transactions

 1,079

 1,099

 911

 1,167

Equals: LAFS operating surplus/deficit

 -383

 -191

 -561

 -659

Another difference in treatment is the way local government transactions are aggregated. GFS aims to consolidate transactions within local government where possible. This results in totals for income, expenditure, assets and liabilities in GFS being lower than the equivalents in LAFS. For example, netting out funding flows between Auckland Council and Auckland Transport reduces both revenue and expenditure.

Please email national.accounts@stats.govt.nz for more information.

Published 30 July 2013

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