Public finance in centrally planned economies has differed in fundamental ways from that in market economies. Some state-owned enterprises generated profits that helped finance government activities. The government entities that operate for profit are usually manufacturing and financial institutions, services such as nationalized healthcare do not operate for a profit to keep costs low for consumers. The Soviet Union relied heavily on turnover taxes on retail sales. Sales of natural resources, and especially petroleum products, were an important source of revenue for the Soviet Union.
In market-oriented economies with substantial state enterprise, such as in Venezuela, the state-run oil company PSDVA provides revenue for the government to fund its operations and programs that would otherwise be profit for private owners. In various mixed economies, the revenue generated by state-run or state-owned enterprises are used for various state endeavors; typically the revenue generated by state and government agencies goes into asovereign wealth fund. An example of this is theAlaska Permanent Fundand Singapore'sTemasek Holdings.
Variousmarket socialistsystems or proposals utilize revenue generated by state-run enterprises to fund social dividends, eliminating the need for taxation altogether.
The size of governments, their institutional composition and complexity, their ability to carry out large and sophisticated operations, and their impact on the other sectors of the economy warrant a well-articulated system to measure government economic operations.
TheGFSM 2001addresses the institutional complexity of government by defining various levels of government. The main focus of theGFSM 2001is the general government sector defined as the group of entities capable of implementing public policy through the provision of primarily nonmarket goods and services and the redistribution of income and wealth, with both activities supported mainly by compulsory levies on other sectors. TheGFSM 2001disaggregates the general government into subsectors: central government, state government, and local government. The concept of general government does not includepublic corporations. The general government plus the public corporations comprise the public sector.
The GFSM 2001 framework is similar to the financial accounting of businesses. For example, it recommends that governments produce a full set of financial statements including the statement of government operations (akin to the income statement), the balance sheet, and a cash flow statement. Two other similarities between the GFSM 2001 and business financial accounting are the recommended use of accrual accounting as the basis of recording and the presentations of stocks of assets and liabilities at market value. It is an improvement on the prior methodology - Government Finance Statistics Manual 1986 – based on cash flows and without a balance sheet statement.
Users of GFS
TheGFSM 2001recommends standard tables including standard fiscal indicators that meet a broad group of users including policy makers, researchers, and investors in sovereign debt. Government finance statistics should offer data for topics such as the fiscal architecture, the measurement of the efficiency and effectiveness of government expenditures, the economics of taxation, and the structure of public financing. TheGFSM 2001provides a blueprint for the compilation, recording, and presentation of revenues, expenditures, stocks of assets, and stocks of liabilities. TheGFSM 2001also defines some indicators of effectiveness in government’s expenditures, for example the compensation of employees as a percentage of expense. TheGFSM 2001includes a functional classification of expense as defined by the Classification of Functions of Government (COFOG) .
This functional classification allows policy makers to analyze expenditures on categories such as health, education, social protection, and environmental protection. The financial statements can provide investors with the necessary information to assess the capacity of a government to service and repay its debt, a key element determining sovereign risk, and risk premia. Like the risk of default of a private corporation, sovereign risk is a function of the level of debt, its ratio to liquid assets, revenues and expenditures, the expected growth and volatility of these revenues and expenditures, and the cost of servicing the debt. The government’s financial statements contain the relevant information for this analysis.
The government’s balance sheet presents the level of the debt; that is the government’s liabilities. The memorandum items of the balance sheet provide additional information on the debt including its maturity and whether it is owed to domestic or external residents. The balance sheet also presents a disaggregated classification of financial and non-financial assets.
These data help estimate the resources a government can potentially access to repay its debt. The statement of operations (“income statement”) contains the revenue and expense accounts of the government. The revenue accounts are divided into subaccounts, including the different types of taxes, social contributions, dividends from the public sector, and royalties from natural resources. Finally, the interest expense account is one of the necessary inputs to estimate the cost of servicing the debt.
Fiscal Data Using the GFSM 2001 Methodology
GFS can be accessible through several sources. The International Monetary Fund publishes GFS in two publications:International Financial Statisticsand theGovernment Finance Statistics Yearbook. The World Bank gathers information on external debt. On a regional level, the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) compiles general government account data for its members, and Eurostat, following a methodology compatible with the GFSM 2001, compiles GFS for the members of the European Union.