News Releases

General Government Balance and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty: First reporting for 2024
NR070/2024
Release Date: 22 April 2024
Errata: 22 April 2024 12:20hrs
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  • In 2023, the General Government sector registered a deficit of €950.4 million, equivalent to 4.9 per cent of GDP.
  • The debt in 2023 increased by €768.1 million over the previous year, amounting to €9,767.8 million or 50.4 per cent of GDP.
  • Adjustments are made to shift from the Consolidated Fund deficit of €808.0 million, to an accrual-based General Government sector deficit of €950.4 million.
General Government Balance and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty: First reporting for 2024
NR070/2024
Release Date: 22 April 2024
Errata: 22 April 2024 12:20hrs

An error was detected in Table 1 of the commentary. The General Government revenue for 2021 should read €5,386,070 and not €45,386,070 as erroneously reported. Online document was amended on 22 April 2024 at 12:20hrs

In 2023, the General Government registered a deficit of €950.4 million, equivalent to 4.9 per cent of GDP. The General Government debt amounted to €9,767.8 million or 50.4 per cent of GDP.

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General Government balance and debt position

The deficit of General Government for 2023 amounted to €950.4 million, an improvement of €14.4 million over the deficit recorded in the previous year. The balance is calculated as the difference between total revenue (€6,483.0 million) and expenditure (€7,433.5 million) of General Government. When comparing 2023 to 2022, total revenue increased by €581.0 million, while total expenditure increased by €566.7 million.

Table 1. Main Aggregates

2020 2021 2022 2023
General Government revenue € millions 4,763,3485,386,0705,902,0156,483,039
% of GDP35.735.133.933.4
General Government expenditure € millions6,016,5376,552,0556,866,7947,433,462
% of GDP45.142.839.438.4
General Government surplus (+) / deficit (-) € millions-1,253,189-1,165,985-964,780-950,423
% of GDP-9.4-7.6-5.5-4.9
General Government debt € millions6,974,0228,263,2948,999,6839,767,805
% of GDP52.253.951.650.4

When measured as a percentage of GDP, the General Government balance was equivalent to a deficit of 4.9 per cent, an improvement of 0.6 percentage points when compared to a deficit of 5.5 per cent registered in 2022.

Chart 1. General Government balance as a % of GDP

No Data Found

General Government debt increased by €768.1 million over 2022 and stood at €9,767.8 million. The debt-to-GDP ratio for 2023 was down to 50.4 per cent from 51.6 per cent in 2022 (Table 1).

Chart 2. General Government debt as a % of GDP

No Data Found

2023 data

To arrive at the General Government sector’s negative balance of €950.4 million for 2023, several adjustments were made to the balance of the Government’s Consolidated Fund, which registered a deficit of €808.0 million, as reported in NSO news release 059/2024. These adjustments are necessary for transitioning from the Government’s Consolidated Fund to an accruals-based exercise, compiled in line with the established European methodology. Additionally, the adjustments account for Extra Budgetary Units1 (EBUs), classified within the General Government sector, as well as the Local Government sector. Table 3 provides the transition from the Consolidated Fund to General Government sector.

The largest negative adjustment was related to Other accounts receivable and payable which amounted to €399.0 million, which includes amongst others the Treasury Department accruals data, the EU Funds neutralisation adjustments and the COVID-19 tax deferrals. Other negative adjustments were the recording for payable tax credits (€20.5 million), the Treasury Clearance Funds (TCF) in non-financial transactions (€11.8 million) as well as the rerouted transactions inside the General Government sector and public-private partnership (PPP) agreements (€8.9 million).

Conversely, the main positive adjustments included the time-adjusted cash transactions (€160.7 million) and an increase in the surplus recorded by the EBUs which stood at €118.6 million, marking an increase of €34.2 million over 2022. Other increases were the difference between interest paid and accrued (€10.6 million), the interest received from the sinking fund (€5.8 million) and the Local Government aggregated surplus of €1.6 million.

Reporting and updates

On 28 March 2024, Malta submitted the government deficit and debt levels for the years 2020-2023, as part of the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) Notification. This was done in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2009, as amended by Commission Regulation (EU) No. 220/2014.

When compared to the previous submission of 29 September 2023, the balance of the General Government was revised for all the years under review following changes in the Other accounts receivable and payable category. These revisions had a positive impact on the fiscal balance in 2020 (€31.3 million) and 2022 (€8.9 million), and a negative impact in 2021 (€18.8 million). There was an improvement of €19.1 million in the consolidated fund deficit for 2022 related to a reconciliation exercise carried out by the Treasury Department. Additionally, the availability of audited financial statements for EBUs and local councils led to a combined upward revision in the fiscal balance by €0.1 million in 2020, and a downward revision of €6.4 million in 2021 and €12.5 million in 2022.

The revisions in General Government debt resulted from the availability of audited accounts for EBUs and local councils. Figures were revised downwards by €0.6 million for both 2021 and 2022, and €0.8 million in 2022.

Stock-Flow Adjustment (SFA)

The SFA, also known as the deficit-debt adjustment, captures those transactions or factors impacting the government debt that are not reflected in the government fiscal balance. In 2023, a SFA of -0.9 per cent of GDP was recorded. This indicates that the deficit of 4.9 per cent of GDP increased more than implied by the change in government debt, which was 4.0 per cent of GDP. The SFA primarily stemmed from decreases in Other accounts receivable and payable (2.9 per cent of GDP), Loans (0.2 per cent of GDP) as well as Other adjustments (0.2 per cent of GDP). These were partly offset by increases in the holdings of Currency and deposits (1.8 per cent of GDP), Equity and investment fund shares (0.3 per cent of GDP) and Debt securities (0.3 per cent of GDP) (Table 4).

Further information

The data in this release is presented on an accrual basis, as opposed to the monthly news release on government finances, which reflects the Government’s Consolidated Fund and is presented on a cash basis. This adheres to the guidelines outlined in the Manual on Government Deficit and Debt and the European System of Accounts (ESA) 2010 (2022 edition). It covers the General Government sector, comprising the Local Government, Extra Budgetary Units, and Budgetary Central Government. Additionally, other government accounts, such as the Treasury Clearance Fund and the Sinking Fund, alongside the Consolidated Fund, are included. Financial transactions are excluded, and other accrual adjustments are factored in.

The official EDP notification tables that were transmitted to the EU Commission can be found in the excel tables.

Further data for the Government’s Consolidated Fund can be found online.

More information on the revenue and expenditure categories, as well as the financial assets and liabilities and debt, published in the News Release ‘071/2023:- Quarterly Accounts for the General Government Sector: Q4/2023’.

The EDP Consolidated Inventory of Sources and Methods in ESA 2010 is available on the NSO website.

1 A list at the end of this news release shows the EBUs which formed part of the General Government sector as at 31 December 2023.

Methodological Notes

1. Within the context of the EDP compilation, Government is taken to mean the General Government (S.13 sector according to the ESA 2010 definitions). This includes the Budgetary Central Government made up of Government ministries and departments, the Extra Budgetary Units (EBUs) which are classified as forming part of this sector, as well as all the Local Councils.
 
2. This release presents Government deficit and debt worked out in line with the procedure defined in the Maastricht Treaty (Article 104). The basic conceptual reference framework for this exercise is the ESA 2010 Manual on Government Deficit and Debt (2022 edition); which is in turn based on the European System of National and Regional Accounts (ESA 2010). This compliance with the reference framework allows for the international comparability of the data.
 
3. Article 104 of the Maastricht Treaty requires Member States to avoid excessive government deficits. In this respect the Commission monitors the development of the budgetary situation and of the stock of government debt. A protocol of the Maastricht Treaty specifies the reference percentages for general government deficit (which should not exceed 3 per cent of GDP), and for the gross nominal consolidated debt (which should not exceed 60 per cent of GDP).
 
4. The Stock Flow Adjustment (SFA) is the difference between the change in the stock of Government debt and the flow of annual Government deficit/surplus. Deficits normally contribute to an increase in debt levels, while surpluses reduce them. However, the change in government debt also reflects other elements which do not appear in the surplus/deficit figures.
 
5. The data contained in this release may be revised. Figures may not add up due to rounding.
 
6. More information relating to this news release may be accessed at:
 
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8. A detailed news release calendar is available online.
 
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