Sunday, July 6, 2008

Government Finance Statistics (GFS)

The IMF Government Finance Statistics (GFS) is a well-known source of government expenditure data. But it's difficult to understand for the first time users. Here's some help:

List of countries (as of December 2005), provided by ESDS International (UK's data distributor)

There was a change in the data classification system in 2001. Data during 1972-1989 is available in the old format (GFSM 1986 format) while data since 1990 is available in the new format (GFSM 2001 format). Classification comparison between the two systems is available in
Tobias M. Wickens (2002) "CLASSIFICATION OF GFSM 1986 DATA TO THE GFSM 2001 FRAMEWORK," Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 Companion Material.

Each variable has 13-letter series code in the GFSM 1986 format. It's surprisingly difficult to find the definition of this code, but here it is:
First 3-digit numbers: country code
The next 5 letters: subject code
The 9th letter: version code
The 10th letter: publication code
The final 3 digit numbers: Partner-country code (... if the data refers to a single country)

For the subject code, the first letter is always 8 for GFS data. The second letter is
0 - deficit/surplus of total financing
1 - revenue or grants
2 - expenditure
3 - lending minus repayments
4 - domestic financing
5 - foreign financing
8 - domestic debit, total debt (the next position in the time series
distinguishes between the two)
9 - foreign debt

The third and fourth letters are classification distinctions (I don't know what they are). The final letter is
. - central government budgetary accounts
H - central government consolidated accounts
O - central government extrabudgetary accounts
3 - central government social security funds
J - state or province governments
L - local governments

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