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IMF Launches Online Guide to Help Developing Countries Compile Government Finance Statistics


The International Monetary Fund today released an electronic guide to help developing countries compile better fiscal statistics following international standards, and to serve as a reference in this area. Government Finance Statistics: Compilation Guide for Developing Countries, an online publication, was produced by the IMF’s Statistics Department and funded mainly by the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID).

The international economic and financial crisis has highlighted the importance of sound fiscal statistics that have broad coverage—notably at the level of general government finances--and are comparable across countries. Based on the guidelines of the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001), and the experience gained over 25 years providing technical assistance and training to officials in member countries, the Guide discusses in detail a range of key issues in the compilation of statistics for government institutions. Many examples, figures, and tables are provided to illustrate the various topics discussed.

“We expect that this Guide will prove very useful to all country officials interested in improving the quality and analytical value of their fiscal statistics—particularly in developing countries,” said Ms. Adelheid Burgi-Schmelz, Director of the IMF’s Statistics Department. “The Guide provides detailed information on how to gradually introduce international guidelines and best practices into the compilation and dissemination of government finance statistics,” Ms. Burgi-Schmelz added.

The Guide recommends the use of uniform concepts and accounting rules, as well as a standard set of tables and summary statements, to compile and present the fiscal data for any member country. It shows how a country’s fiscal data, which usually follow national concepts and presentations, can be gradually converted to the international GFSM 2001 presentation, which helps ensure comparability across countries. The Guide explains how to expand the coverage of fiscal statistics starting from the government’s budget to eventually include all units of general government.

The Guide discusses the main concepts underlying government finance statistics, and explains the process followed to compile these statistics from the initial source data all the way to the final tables and statements disseminated. The publication should provide interested users, from academic researchers and policy makers to members of the press, with a better understanding of the meaning of the statistics and how to interpret them.


The Guide was prepared in the context of the Enhanced Data Dissemination Initiative, which is supported by DFID and oriented towards improving macroeconomic statistics in Africa. Its focus is on issues of particular relevance to developing countries. Nevertheless, the guidelines of the GFSM 2001 are applicable to all countries, regardless of their level of statistical development. A practical step by step approach on how to compile fiscal statistics following these guidelines is a fundamental feature of the Guide.

The concepts presented in the Guide are harmonized with those of the U.N. Inter-Secretariat Working Group on National Accounts’s System of National Accounts 2008, the IMF’s Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual sixth edition, and other internationally recognized macroeconomic manuals. This harmonization helps ensure consistency across the resulting macroeconomic datasets, and supports economic analysis, decision-taking, and policy-making.


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