Guide to IMF Government Finance Statistics


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 from 1990 onwards for over 150 countries. Where the data are available, annual entries generally begin in 1990 and run to the latest available year. The historical GFS is only available as plain text or Microsoft Access format. Where available the data covers 1972 to 1989. A link to this data can be found within the UKDS.Stat interface (within the side information tab). The historical data is presented in the framework of the GFSM 1986.

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 UKDS.Stat is freely available to all. 

Effective January 1st 2015, the IMF introduced a new policy whereby access to the IMF online statistics databases became free to all users.  As a result of this policy the IMF datasets hosted by the UK Data Service are now freely available to all. Please refer to the IMF’s Special Terms and Conditions Pertaining to the Use of Data.


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 2014 GFSM replaces the previous 2001 and 1986 versions. The revised guidelines have been harmonized with the updates in other macroeconomic statistical manuals and guides, such as the overarching System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA), and the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual 6th ed., and Public Sector Debt Statistics: Guide for Compilers and Users.

These revised manuals and guides address important international economic developments in recent years and take into account improved recording and methodological treatments of various events. The changes to GFSM 2001 incorporated in the GFSM 2014 can broadly be summarized as methodological changes agreed to in the update of 2008 SNA, clarifications on existing methodological guidelines, presentational changes, and a limited number of editorial changes.

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.  Also, check the IMF Data Help page.

The IMF Government Finance Statistics has a large range of concepts, but these concepts are not available for all countries. Data availability is an issue. In fact using the interface in the standard way can result in displaying lots of null values. With this in mind, we recommend that you take a look at the following guide:

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