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Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update 2012

Glossary of Terms

Accruals basis of accounting

An accounting basis where revenue is recognised when earned and expenses when the obligations they relate to are incurred. This contrasts to cash accounting, where income is recognised when the cash is received and expenses when cash to settle an obligation is paid out.


Appropriations are legal authorities granted by Parliament to the Crown or an Office of Parliament to use public resources. Most appropriations are set out in Appropriation Acts.


The level of funding approved for any given area of spending (eg, Vote Education). All amounts within baselines are included in the forecasts.

Commercial portfolio

Consists of the portfolio of companies held with purely commercial objectives.

Consumers Price Index (CPI)

Statistics New Zealand's official index to measure the rate of change in prices of goods and services purchased by households.

Contingent assets

Income that the Crown will realise if a particular uncertain event occurs, or a present asset is unable to be measured with sufficient reliability to be recorded in the financial statements (unquantified contingent assets). Contingent assets typically comprise loans with specific events that trigger repayment and Inland Revenue pending assessments (where there is a proposed adjustment to a tax assessment).

Contingent liabilities

Costs that the Crown will have to face if a particular uncertain event occurs, or present liabilities that are unable to be measured with sufficient reliability to be recorded in the financial statements (unquantified contingent liabilities). Contingent liabilities typically comprise guarantees and indemnities, legal disputes and claims, and uncalled capital.

Core Crown

A reporting segment consisting of the Crown, departments, Offices of Parliament, the NZS Fund and the Reserve Bank of New Zealand. For a list of all entities included in this segment, refer to the Government Reporting Entity (pages 85 to 86).

Core Crown expenses

The day-to-day spending (eg, public servants' salaries, welfare benefit payments, finance costs and maintaining national defence etc) that does not build physical assets for the core Crown. This is an accrual measure of expenses and includes items such as depreciation on physical assets.

Core Crown revenue

Consists primarily of tax revenue collected by the Government but also includes investment income, sales of goods and services and other revenue of the core Crown.

Corporate tax

The sum of net company tax, non-resident withholding tax (NRWT) and foreign-source dividend withholding payments (FDWP).

Current account (Balance of Payments)

A measure of economic transactions between New Zealand and the rest of the world. A net inflow to New Zealand represents a current account surplus, a net outflow a deficit. The current account balance is commonly expressed as a percentage of nominal GDP.

Cyclically-adjusted balance (CAB) or structural balance

An estimate of the fiscal balance (eg, operating balance before gains and losses) adjusted for short-term fluctuations of actual GDP around trend GDP. The estimate provides a useful picture of the underlying trend fiscal position and helps measure the effects of policy decisions. Because it is based on a number of assumptions and is sensitive to new information, the estimate is subject to some uncertainty.

Demographic changes

Changes to the structure of the population such as the age, gender or ethnic make-up.

Domestic bond programme

The amount and timing of government bonds expected to be issued or redeemed.

Excise duties

A tax levied on the domestic production of alcohol, tobacco and light petroleum products (CNG, LPG and petrol).

Financial assets

Any asset that is cash, an equity instrument of another entity (shares), a contractual right to receive cash or shares (taxes receivable and ACC levies), or a right to exchange a financial asset or liability on favourable terms (derivatives in gain).

Financial liabilities

Any liability that is a contractual obligation to pay cash (government stock, accounts payable), or a right to exchange a financial asset or liability on unfavourable terms (derivatives in loss).

Financial portfolio

Consists of the assets and liabilities held by the Crown to finance or pre-fund government expenditure.

Fiscal drag

The additional tax revenue generated from source deductions as an individual's average tax rate increases as their income increases

Fiscal impulse

A summary measure of how changes in fiscal policy affect aggregate demand. To isolate discretionary changes, fiscal impulse is calculated on a cyclically-adjusted basis and excludes net interest payments. To better capture the role of capital spending the indicator is derived from cash flow information.

Fiscal intentions (short-term)

Indications of the Government's intentions for operating expenses, operating revenues and the impact of its intentions on the operating balance, debt and net worth over (at least) the next three years. These intentions are required under the Public Finance Act 1989 (PFA).

Fiscal objectives (long-term)

The Government's long-term goals for operating expenses, operating revenue, the operating balance, debt and net worth, as required by the PFA. The objectives must be consistent with the defined principles of responsible fiscal management as outlined in the PFA and must cover a period of (at least) 10 years.

Forecast new capital spending

An amount provided in the forecasts to represent the balance sheet impact of capital initiatives expected to be introduced over the forecast period.

Forecast new operating spending

An amount included in the forecasts to provide for the operating balance impact of policy initiatives, changes to demographics and other forecasting changes expected to occur over the forecast period.

Gains and losses

Gains and losses typically arise from the revaluation of assets and liabilities, such as investments in financial assets and long-term liabilities for ACC and the Government Superannuation Fund. These valuation changes are reported directly as a movement in net worth (eg, asset revaluation reserves) or indirectly through the statement of financial performance.

GDP deflator

An index of changes in the general price level in the economy. It is calculated as the ratio of nominal GDP to real GDP.

Generally accepted accounting practice (GAAP)

GAAP refers to the rules and assumptions used to prepare and present financial statements. GAAP is an independent and objective set of rules that govern the recognition and measurement of financial elements, such as assets, liabilities, revenues and expenses.

Government Finance Statistics (GFS)

A statistical framework for government reporting developed by the International Monetary Fund to aid comparability of results between countries. This differs from the GAAP framework that is used for reporting by the Government in New Zealand.

Gross debt (or Gross sovereign-issued debt [GSID])

Represents debt issued by the sovereign (the core Crown) and includes government stock held by the NZS Fund, ACC and the Earthquake Commission.

Gross domestic product (GDP)

A measure of the value of all goods and services produced in New Zealand. Changes in GDP measure growth or contraction in economic activity or output. GDP can be measured as the actual dollar value of goods and services at today's prices (nominal GDP), or excluding the effects of price changes over time (real GDP).

Gross domestic product (expenditure)

The sum of total expenditure on final goods and services in the economy.

Gross national expenditure (GNE)

A measure of total expenditure on final goods and services by New Zealand residents.

Insurance liabilities

The gross obligation for the future cost of claims incurred prior to balance date represented in today's dollars (present value). The net liability is the gross liability less the asset reserves held to meet those claims.

Inter-segment eliminations

The amounts of transactions between different segments (core Crown, CEs and SOEs) that are eliminated to determine total Crown results.

Labour force participation rate

Measures the percentage of the working-age population in work or actively looking for and available for work.

Labour productivity

Measures output per unit of labour input (where labour inputs might be measured as hours worked or the number of people employed).

Line-by-line consolidation

A term used to refer to the general approach to the presentation of the Crown financial statements. It means that the individual line items for revenues, expenses, assets and liabilities in the financial statements of Government include all departments, Offices of Parliament, the Reserve Bank, SOEs, CEs and other entities controlled by the Government.

Marketable securities

Assets held with financial institutions. These assets are held for both cash flow and investment purposes. Examples are bonds, commercial papers and debentures.

Monetary conditions

Aggregate monetary conditions measure the degree to which short-term interest rates and the exchange rate either support or restrict economic growth.

Monetary policy

The policies which the Reserve Bank uses to regulate the supply of money in New Zealand. The Reserve Bank implements its monetary policy decisions by adjusting its Official Cash Rate (OCR) in an effort to maintain stability in general level of prices within a defined annual CPI target range.

Tightening monetary policy means raising the OCR in order to moderate aggregate demand pressures and reduce inflationary pressures. Easing monetary policy has the reverse effect.

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