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The further dimension of an appropriation is the period for which it is valid (s10 PFA 1989). There are three different periods that an appropriation can be granted for:


  • The vast majority of all appropriations are annual appropriations.
  • Annual appropriations are granted for one financial year from 1 July to 30 June and lapse at the end of the year.
  • Annual appropriations are approved by Parliament through the Appropriation Acts.
  • Governments may determine rules for transferring expenses or capital expenditure between financial years and seeking re-appropriation.


  • Multi-year appropriations (MYAs) give authority to Ministers to incur expenses and capital expenditure for a maximum of 5 financial years (s10(2) and (3) PFA 1989).
  • Like annual appropriations, MYAs are specified in the Appropriation Act. However, unlike annual appropriations and PLAs, MYAs appear in their own table in the respective Estimates vote chapters (although they are included in the summary tables based on an estimate of annual expenditure).
  • MYAs are generally used in situations where well defined and self contained outputs or capital expenditure fall across two or more financial years but the timing of those outputs or capital expenditure between the years is uncertain.
  • The Vote Statistics appropriation for the 5-yearly census is a good example of an appropriate use of an MYA.


  • PLAs (defined in s2 PFA 1989) are appropriations granted in Acts other than an Appropriation Act. PLAs are generally provided in three particular circumstances. These are where:
    • approval is needed for spending of a technical nature (for example, the departmental capital PLA and the GST PLA)
    • the Government needs to give assurance about its ability to make payments (for example, debt repayments in Vote Finance), or
    • Parliament wishes to signal a commitment not to interfere in certain transactions (for example, the PLA in Vote Courts for salaries of the judiciary).
  • PLAs must still be managed and accounted for in the same manner as all other appropriations (s11(2) PFA 1989) and therefore must appear in the Estimates.
  • Scope statements of PLAs must cite the legislative authority (the Act and the section of that Act) that created the appropriation.
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