Guide to IMF Government Finance Statistics

INTRODUCTION

The IMF Government Finance Statistics (GFS) is the standard reference source on governments of IMF member countries. Annual data is supplied on revenue income by source (tax, lending, bonds, etc), and expenditure by sector (defence, education, health, etc) for all levels of government (national, state, local). Data are in local currencies with the major components and expenditures on education, health, social security and agriculture shown also as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP).

Updated quarterly, the GFS contains annual time series data. Where the data are available, annual entries generally begin in 1972 and run to the latest available year. A small number of series start in 1970. 

Main topics

The Government Finance Statistics database was introduced by the IMF to provide current and internationally comparable data on the finances and fiscal policies of Fund member governments. Topics covered include deficit/surplus or total financing, revenues or grants, expenditures, lending minus repayments, domestic financing, foreign financing, domestic debt or total debt, and foreign debt.

Annual data are supplied for central government accounts and different levels of government in these categories:

  • central government budgetary accounts
  • central government consolidated accounts
  • central government extrabudgetary accounts
  • central government Social Security Funds
  • state or province governments
  • local governments
  • general governments

Some data is provided for the institutions of the European Union under the term ‘supranational authorities’.

The database also includes information on selected aggregates such as GDP, population and exchange rates, taken from the IMF’s International Finance Statistics database.

In Sept 2011, the IMF Statistics Department linked the historical government finance statistics database (1972–1989) to the current one which previously went back only to 1990. The break in the series resulted when the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001) framework was adopted several years ago. Data for 86 countries from 1972–present can now be accessed through the Government Finance Statistics (September 2011 edition onwards). A list of countries to which this applies and a picture of selected 'before and after' data are availlable in the PDF document Upgrade of the Government Finance Statistics Yearbook Database. 

Access IMF data

Access to the IMF Government Finance Statistics via Beyond 20/20 is available to all UK Further/Higher Education (FE/HE) users, including undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and staff at an FE/HE institution in the UK.

User RESOURCES

The GFS manual describes the standards used for the compilation and presentation of fiscal statistics. The manual covers the concepts, definitions, classifications, and accounting rules used to compile the database, and is intended as a reference volume for compilers of government finance statistics, fiscal analysts and other users of fiscal data. The 2001 edition of the manual replaces the 1986 version and introduces major changes in the methodology for the compilation of government finance statistics.

Data for the GFS are obtained primarily by means of a detailed questionnaire distributed to government finance statistics correspondents, usually located in the ministries of finance or central banks of reporting countries. The IMF provide links to an online version of the questionnaire and supplementary information about the database on their Government Finance Statistics, List of Companion Material pages:

IMF Publications also produces an annual print version of the database, the 'Government Finance Statistics Yearbook' which contains recent time series data from the database.

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