Eurostat, the statistical agency of the European Commission, circulated yesterday, to its National Accounts Working Party (NAWP) and its Financial Accounts Working Party (FAWP) members, a Questionnaire on recording of flows and stocks relating to pension schemes in national accounts.
Readers of the EDG may wish to also fill the questionnaire for their own countries and forward it at: STAGOP@imf.org or fax it at: 1.202.623.6012 or send it at: ?EDG Moderator, Government Finance Division, Statistics Department, International Monetary Fund, 700 19th Street NW, Washington DC 20431, USA?. Filled questionnaires will help foster EDG discussions, bringing forward additional concrete examples. The Moderator will report on the findings of the questionnaire, and will liaise with Eurostat and OECD.
The questionnaire is provided in a PDF file as well as in a Word file.
In November 2002, in the framework of deficit and debt statistics, Eurostat stated that there seemed to be a need to interpret the European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA95) rules on the sector classification of pension schemes, or to further specify rules included in the ESA95 Manual on Government Deficit and Debt. In addition, some countries had asked Eurostat to specify the treatment of some specific transactions.
In particular, Eurostat underlined that some specific institutional arrangements implemented in some countries could not be unquestionably classified according to the current criteria in ESA95. On the one hand, accumulation of reserves by some social security schemes is more and more frequent. On the other hand, it would be helpful if the European Statistical System could present a common position to be submitted to the EDG on pensions.
Although the ESA95 Manual on Government Deficit and Debt already contains a chapter on the classification of pension funds, it was introduced mainly to clarify the reclassifications needed when the ESA95 substituted the ESA79 as the reference for the compilation of national accounts, rather than to clarify the treatment in the national accounts of newly devised types of institutional arrangement.
On 4-7 March 2003, the United Nations Statistical Commission approved the principle of a review of 1993 SNA, as suggested by the Intersecretariat Working Group on National Accounts (ISWGNA). Amongst the list of topics identified for review is "pension schemes (employer, social security and social assistance schemes)".
During the recent meetings of the Eurostat Task Force on Pension Schemes, it was suggested that Eurostat collect information about the classification of schemes and institutional units in the different countries, to verify if the classification criteria in ESA95 were interpreted in a homogeneous way across countries. It was also suggested to measure the "importance" of potential borderline cases. Given the different treatment in ESA95 for various types of pension schemes, these classification issues can have a significant impact on key aggregates, for example net lending/net borrowing of institutional sectors.
The aim of this questionnaire is mainly to collect information about the current interpretation of ESA95 principles by the different countries. The questionnaire should also stimulate countries to present potential borderline cases, i.e. situations for which the interpretation of ESA95 principles was not straightforward.
The questionnaire tries to stimulate comments on aspects of ESA95 that may be discussed in the framework of the revision of 1993 SNA. In this respect, the results of the questionnaire (Stage 1: present practices and present interpretation problems) together with the work of the Task Force (Stage 2: common agreed interpretation of ESA95) could represent a contribution at EU level to the revision of 1993 SNA (Stage 3: definition of new rules for the future version of SNA).
Tentative operational definitions of "pensions" and "scheme" are given, in order to allow countries to interpret the questionnaire in a homogeneous way, independently of differences in national terminology.
Eurostat Unit B.4
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