Government Finance Statistics (GFS) form the basis for fiscal monitoring in Europe, most notably for statistics related to the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP). The EDP is established in the Treaty and specified in the Stability and Growth Pact legislation. The European Union member states report data related to the EDP to the Commission (Eurostat) which, in turn, is responsible for providing the data to the Council.
The methodology for EDP statistics is set out in Council Regulation (EC) No. 220/2014 amending Council Regulation (EC) No. 479/2009 and subsequent legal amendments, supplemented by further interpretation and guidance from Eurostat, in particular the Manual on Government Deficit and Debt. Data is also produced in accordance with the European System of Accounts 2010 (ESA 2010), the EU manual for national accounts.
Administrative sources are used in order to compile government finance statistics. These are the Departmental Accounting System (DAS) from the Treasury Department, the Financial Data Reporting System (FDRS) from the Ministry of Finance and the Treasury’s accruals templates from the Treasury Department. Other ad-hoc information is also requested from the Ministry of Finance. Data from the DAS and FDRS is available on a monthly basis, while the Treasury’s accruals templates are available on a quarterly basis.
Data is then compiled in accordance with principles set out in the ESA 2010 and the Manual on Government Deficit and Debt. EDP debt is recorded at nominal value while in the financial accounts the debt instruments are recorded at market value. Data for revenue and expenditure are recorded on an accruals basis. Revenues from VAT, Income Tax and Social Security Contributions are recorded using the time-adjusted cash method in accordance with Council Regulation (EC) No. 2516/2000. Following a study undertaken by NSO in 2008, Eurostat approved a time adjustment of t+1 for VAT and t+2 for Income Tax and Social Security Contributions.
Accuracy and reliability of data
All accounts in the corporate chart of accounts (COA) of DAS are coded in accordance with the requirements of the ESA 2010 and checks with previous years and the current economic scenario are undertaken.
Further checks are conducted by the Public Finance Unit on the Treasury’s accruals templates. Each quarter any queries observed are sent to the Accounting, Methodology, and Compliance Unit (AMCU) in respect of changes in debtors and creditors greater than €1.0 million.
For any queries or clarifications on the FDRS templates, contact is either made directly with the particular Extra Budgetary Unit (EBU) or with the Financial Management and Monitoring Unit (FMMU) at the Budget Office.
Timeliness and punctuality of data
EDP data is reported twice a year: before 1 April and before 1 October for the preceding four calendar years and a forecast for the current year.
After this data transmission, on a national level, two ‘General Government Balance and Debt under the Maastricht Treaty’ news releases are published in April (first reporting) and October (second reporting). The publication dates for these news releases coincide with Eurostat’s press release of the EDP data for the EU Member States.
Accessibility and clarity of data
News releases are published on the NSO’s website as scheduled in the Advance Release Calendar.
Whenever the EDP Consolidated Inventory necessitates an update, an amended copy is sent to Eurostat and updated on the NSO’s website.
Data on government debt and deficit under the Maastricht Treaty is available also on the NSO’s statistical database (StatDB).
Coherence and comparability/consistency of data
Data are comparable across all European Union member states as harmonised European rules (ESA 2010, and ESA 2010 Manual on government deficit and debt) are adopted for compiling the Excessive Deficit Procedure (EDP) data.
Consistency is ensured within and between the EDP tables and the European System of Accounts (ESA) transmission programme.
Malta’s General Government data is comparable from 1995 onwards. Prior to year 2008 the unit of measure was the Maltese Lira (Lm) and the conversion rate to euro used was the fixed rate of 0.4293.