Chapter 5: net financial liabilities

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  • Net Financial Liabilities of the General Government Sector are estimated to fall by $6,456 million over the four years to June 2001 and reduce by a further $1,209 million by June 2005.

  • General Government net debt is estimated to fall from $10,817 million to $4,828 million over the eight years to June 2005.

  • Gross interest expenses over the same period are expected to more than halve, from $1,588 million to $728 million.

  • Assets available to meet the State’s superannuation commitments are projected to increase significantly with over 73 percent of liabilities funded by 2005 compared to 41 percent in 1995.
    1. introduction

Two key financial management performance benchmarks are the trends in the Net Financial Liabilities of the General Government Sector and State Sector expressed as a percentage of NSW Gross State Product (GSP).

Net Financial Liabilities is a measure of the total liabilities (primarily borrowings, superannuation and outstanding insurance claims) less the liquid financial assets available to meet these obligations (mainly cash, deposits and investments). Increasingly, movements in Net Financial Liabilities are being regarded as the most significant fiscal indicator, as opposed to the narrower measure of net debt.

For the four year period ending 30 June 2001, General Government Sector Net Financial Liabilities are estimated to decline by $6,456 million and, as a percentage of GSP, to decline from 15 percent to 9 percent. State Sector Net Financial Liabilities are expected to decline by $3,942 million and, expressed as a percentage of GSP, to decline from 22 percent to 16 percent.

Given this ongoing reduction in Net Financial Liabilities and the State’s record of General Government Sector Budget surpluses, the credit rating agencies have again confirmed New South Wales’ AAA credit standing.

  1. State Sector Net Financial Liabilities

* Mainly represented by outstanding insurance claims, including HIH liabilities.

** Equity investment in the PTE/PFE sectors is excluded to give a more conservative picture of the General Government Sector overall financial obligations.

Total State Sector Net Financial Liabilities are a consolidation of the Net Financial Liabilities of the General Government, Public Trading Enterprise, (PTE) and Public Financial Enterprise (PFE) sectors as shown in Table 5.1.

The financial management considerations that influence the level of Net Financial Liabilities in the PTE and PFE sectors are quite different to those in the General Government Sector.

The amount of debt held by individual Government commercial enterprises e.g. electricity generators and distributors, should generally reflect the relevant industry average gearing levels in order to reinforce incentives for the efficient use of the organisation’s capital and other resources.

The net financial liabilities held by commercial enterprises support physical assets that earn a financial return in addition to providing a service to the community. The physical assets in the General Government Sector, while underpinning the sector’s services do not earn a financial return but are primarily funded from taxation revenue.

General Government Sector Net Financial Liabilities are estimated to decline by $6,456 million over the four year period ending 30 June 2001. This result reflects a reduction in unfunded superannuation liabilities of $3,902 million and in net debt of $3,286 million and an increase of $732 million in other financial liabilities, including the assumption of $600 million in respect of HIH outstanding claims.

The overall improvement in the General Government financial position is attributable to the Budget surpluses achieved over this period and dedicating the proceeds of major asset sales and capital repatriations from the PTE sector to debt reduction.

These actions are in accordance with the Government’s fiscal strategy which has the objective of reducing the cost of servicing outstanding General Government Sector financial liabilities and thereby freeing up resources for improved service delivery and tax reductions.

The increase in the General Government Sector superannuation liability estimate in 2000-01 is due to the impact of revised actuarial demographic assumptions and projected lower asset investment returns. Conversely the large decline in 1999-2000 was caused by a change to the actuarial economic assumptions and higher than expected investment returns.

Overall the superannuation liability position has improved significantly since 1995. The current liability projection of $7,863 million as at 30 June 2001 is $6,337 million less than the original funding plan estimate and thus the target date for fully funding superannuation liabilities has been brought forward

15 years, from 2045 to 2030.

The projected increase in PTE Sector Net Financial Liabilities in 2000-01 primarily reflects the increase in debt due to the re-gearing of the electricity distributors and generators.

Another factor affecting PTE Net Financial Liabilities is the utilisation of cash balances by Water, Electricity, Transport and other agencies to fund capital works projects.

Other Financial Liabilities in the PTE Sector are expected to decline significantly in 2000-01 primarily because net expenditure incurred by the Sydney Organising Committee for the Olympic Games and the

Sydney Paralympic Organising Committee had been deferred and recorded as a liability. The expense has been brought to account in the financial year in which the Olympic Games took place along with the offsetting revenue from the Games.

State Sector Net Financial Liabilities are expected to decline by $3,942 million for the four year period ending 30 June 2001. Over the forward estimates period, General Government Sector and State Sector Net Financial Liabilities are projected to stabilise in nominal terms and to continue to decline as a percentage of Gross State Product, as shown in Table 5.2 and Chart 5.1.

  1. Net Financial Liabilities Projections

1 Includes temporary borrowings to fund prepayment of superannuation contributions.

2 Increase between 2001 and 2002 mainly due to Crown employer contribution funding holiday following prepayment of contributions in 1999.

  1. Gross amount of insurance assets are included in financial assets in accordance with Australian Bureau of Statistics Standards. The increase in 2001 reflects the take over of HIH liabilities.

  2. Mainly represented by long service leave and other employee entitlements.

  3. PTE/PFE net financial liabilities and their components are assumed constant from 2003 and 2002 respectively.
  1. Net Financial Liabilities as percentage of Gross State Product, as at 30 June

Further detailed commentary on the major General Government Sector
Net Financial Liabilities is contained in the following sections.

5.3: general government SECTOR net debt

Table 5.3: General Government Sector Net Debt

* Gross debt dissections not available.

The Government has established a fiscal target to eliminate

General Government Net Debt by 2020, which has been incorporated in the General Government Debt Elimination Act 1995.

Substantial progress has already been made in achieving this target with the revised estimate of underlying net debt in 2001 being $5,675 million lower than the level prevailing in 1995.

This reduction excludes the impact of the prepayment of superannuation contributions. Temporary debt was raised in 1999 to fund these payments and will be fully repaid by 30 June 2002. Mainly because of high investment returns on the prepaid contributions, General Government Sector Net Financial Liabilities are expected to be at least $800 million lower as a result of this initiative.

The net debt reduction is partly due to ongoing Budget cash surpluses and asset sales, including the TAB. These receipts have been utilised to buy back high coupon rate bonds and thus significantly reduce General Government Sector interest expenses. This has provided the opportunity for the Government to allocate additional funding to high priority core government services such as the recent transport initiatives.

Further, during 2000-01 the electricity industry was re-geared to the extent of $2,800 million (market value) and the capital receipts were used to retire General Government Sector high coupon loans.

In order to repurchase these securities in the market an additional amount of premium had to be paid to existing bond holders. Thus the reduction in the book value of General Government Sector borrowings was approximately

$270 million less than the market value and the interest expense in 2000-01 was increased by an equivalent amount. This cost will be fully offset by future interest cost savings.

The electricity businesses are able to prudently support additional debt with revised gearing levels nearer to those of comparable private sector organisations. While the additional interest cost will lower dividends, the net Budget impact is positive because General Government interest cost savings are expected to exceed the revenue forgone.

Net debt would be approximately $320 million lower if the State was not required to meet ongoing State Bank post sale costs paid since 1993-94.

Over the four year period to 30 June 2005, General Government Net Debt is expected to further decline as a result of projected cash surpluses totalling $1,312 million.

Allowance has been made in 2000-01 for the assumption of certain liabilities as a result of the HIH collapse and the resulting impacts on cash balances over the forward estimates period. Despite the adverse impact on the Budget and Forward Estimates, the Net Debt to GSP ratio is still expected to fall to
1.5 percent by 2005, as shown in Chart 5.2.

Chart 5.2: General Government Sector Net Debt as percentage of Gross State Product, as at 30 June

Due to temporary superannuation borrowings

general government sector interest expense trends

Chart 5.3 General Government Sector Gross Debt Interest Expense, and as a percentage of State Revenue, as at 30 June

As shown in Chart 5.3 the ratio of gross interest expense to State revenue is projected to fall from 6.8 percent to 2.4 percent over the eight year period ending 30 June 2005.

Gross debt interest expense is expected to more than halve during the same period from $1,588 million to $728 million due to ongoing reductions in General Government gross debt and a lower average debt portfolio interest rate as existing debt matures and/or the portfolio is restructured to take advantage of lower prevailing finance costs.

General Government net interest expense is also considerably lower due to high asset investment earnings on Treasury Banking System cash balances and insurance scheme financial assets. The additional premium cost paid in order to redeem high coupon rate bonds, referred to earlier, is included in the revised 2000-01 interest expense estimate. The forward year estimates reflect the favourable impact of these debt redemptions on future expense levels.

Table 5.4 details the actual and estimated net interest expenses.

Table 5.4 General Government Sector Net Interest Expense

  • represents coupon accrual interest expense and any losses on debt management resulting from retirement of high interest rate loans

    1. general government sector unfunded superannuation liabilities

General Government Sector net superannuation liabilities are estimated to be $4,174 million lower for the six year period ending 30 June 2001.
The proportion of funded accrued liabilities is expected to increase during the same period from 41 percent to 73 percent, as shown in Table 5.5.
  1. General Government Sector Unfunded Superannuation Liabilities

* 1995 figures are for Budget Sector only

** The time series is adjusted to take into account that New South Wales no longer recognises any superannuation liability for Universities.

The net unfunded superannuation liability is the difference between the present value of liabilities accrued in respect of past service and the market value of financial assets, primarily domestic and international shares, held in defined benefit superannuation funds.

The estimate of unfunded superannuation liabilities is sensitive to the demographic and economic actuarial valuation assumptions used, and the market value of financial assets which is volatile. A 7 percent investment return (being the long term assumption adopted by the scheme actuary in the latest triennial review of the schemes) has been assumed for the forward estimates period. For 2000-01 a lower return of 4 percent has been estimated, which takes into account actual results, up to 31 March 2001.

During the period since 1995 assets have grown strongly, with higher than expected investment returns (e.g. 15.2 percent in 1999-2000), and a high level of employer cash contributions. Further, the Unfunded Superannuation to

GSP ratio is expected to fall from 7.3 percent to 3.3 percent over the ten year period ending 30 June 2005, as shown in Chart 5.4.

Chart 5.4: General Government Sector Unfunded Superannuation as percentage of Gross State Product, as at 30 June

Over the forward estimates period to 30 June 2005 the unfunded superannuation liability is projected to increase by approximately $1,890 million, as shown in Table 5.6.

  1. Projected General Government Sector Unfunded Superannuation Liabilities

This increase is mainly due to a revised actuarial estimate of unfunded liabilities and an employer contribution “funding holiday” in 2001 and 2002 as a result of the prepayment of employer contributions in 1999 for the three year period ending 30 June 2002. The increase is in accordance with an accelerated actuarial funding plan to fully fund the liabilities by 2030. The nominal net liability values are expected to increase until approximately 2015 and then decline steadily as shown in Chart 5.5.

Chart 5.5 Projected General Government Sector Unfunded Superannuation Liabilities

Under the revised funding plan unfunded liabilities are estimated to peak around 2015 when the growth in gross accrued liabilities reduces due to the retirement of active members and higher mortality rates. The gross liability escalation is then primarily based on consumer price index movements (assumed to be at 2.5 percent) applicable to pensioners compared to wage growth (assumed to be at 4 percent) for the remaining active defined benefit scheme members.

When Crown employee contributions resume in 2002-03, assets will resume growing. Employer contributions escalated by the consumer price index plus the anticipated 7 percent per annum long term investment return will exceed benefit payment. The asset to liability ratio will dip initially but return to the current level of 73 percent by the end of the forward estimates period.

Triennial Review

The actuary, William M Mercer, was appointed by the Trustee of the pooled defined benefits superannuation fund to undertake the triennial review of the schemes as at 30 June 2000. Actuarial economic assumptions have changed in respect of salary growth (from 5 percent to 4 percent) and consumer price index movements (from 3.25 percent to 2.5 percent). These adjustments were reflected in the 2000 liability valuation.

Demographic assumptions were also reassessed by the actuary and reduced pensioner mortality rates and higher Police disability retirement levels resulted in an increased 2001 liability valuation.

Superannuation Funding Plan

In 1993 a funding plan was developed with the objective of fully funding superannuation liabilities by 2045. As a result of higher than originally estimated employer contributions, various liability management initiatives and favourable actual investment returns over recent years, the Government has brought forward the full funding target date by fifteen years from 2045 to 2030.

When the funding plan was revised in 1995 the liability projection for

2001 was $14,200 million, $6,337 million more than the present liability estimate. Furthermore the 2015 liability peak in the current funding plan will be approximately $3,500 million lower.

New South Wales’ superannuation liability position has, therefore, improved significantly since 1995 and the earlier funding target date can be achieved on the basis of the funding plan shown in table 5.7.

  1. Superannuation Employer Contributions*

* Contributions for the Crown Entity which meets the superannuation costs for all General Government Sector budget dependent agencies.

The Government is committed to the effective management and eventual elimination of unfunded superannuation liabilities via an actuarially calculated funding plan which is reviewed every three years. In particular, employer contribution levels will be reassessed to ensure they are sufficient to fully fund superannuation liabilities by 2030.

While the reassessment of unfunded liabilities is subject to change at particular points of time, an overall cap has been placed on the liabilities of the pooled defined benefit public sector superannuation schemes through their closure to new members. This fact combined with an actuarially assessed funding plan has resulted in those liabilities being reduced from $12,037 million in 1995 to their current level of $7,863 million and will ultimately ensure their complete elimination.

First State Superannuation accumulation scheme contributions will continue to increase due to salary growth, an increase in the superannuation guarantee charge rate from 8 percent to 9 percent from 1 July 2002 and the recruitment of new employees to replace retiring closed defined benefit scheme members.

    1. GENERAL GOVERNMENT sector INSURANCE liabilities

General Government Insurance Net Liabilities are comprised primarily of the Net Financial Liabilities of the Insurance Ministerial Corporation (IMC), as well as the Net Financial Liabilities of the Workers’ Compensation
(Dust Diseases) Board and various WorkCover Authority of New South Wales administered schemes such as the Emergency Rescue Workers and Bush Fire Fighters Compensation Funds. They do not include liabilities under the workers’ compensation scheme for private sector employees.

Following the collapse of HIH Insurance the Government has approved of the establishment of a Policyholders Protection Fund with an initial contribution of $50 million in 2000-01. The Government has assumed liability for the outstanding Compulsory Third Party claims under policies in force with HIH prior to 31 December 2000 and for the claims under the Home Warranty Insurance Scheme in respect of HIH policies entered into prior to

15 March 2001. The extent of the claim costs arising from the HIH collapse and assumed by the NSW Government is currently assessed at $600 million but could vary when the liquidator makes his report.

Table 5.8: General Government Sector Unfunded Insurance Liabilities

As Table 5.8 shows, the growth in insurance scheme assets has exceeded the growth in liabilities, resulting in an ongoing increase in assets available to fund outstanding claims. The impact of estimated claims of $600 million taken up as a result of the HIH collapse account for the deterioration shown in the

2001 year. The improvements shown in the following years reflect the continuing improved performance of the IMC and the reduction in
HIH liabilities as claims are paid.

The IMC administers the insurance liabilities and financial assets of the Treasury Managed Fund (TMF), the Governmental Workers’ Compensation Account and the Transport Accidents Compensation Fund. The latter two schemes are closed and relate primarily to workers’ compensation and compulsory third party (bodily injury) motor vehicle claims that were incurred before 1 July 1989.

The TMF is a self-insurance scheme owned and underwritten by the Government. It provides a full range of insurance covers and services for its members. Fund members include all General Government Budget dependent agencies, all public hospitals and a number of other Government authorities. The management of insurance claims is outsourced. GIO General Ltd was reappointed in this role in July 2000 for a three-year term following a competitive tender process.

A feature of the new contract with GIO is the implementation of service level agreements covering 30 separate activities within the areas of claims management, reporting services, policy administration and overarching service provision. Individual agencies are also able to establish service level agreements that are applicable to their particular agency.

The TMF’s overall purpose is to provide a structure and a range of services that assist agencies to reduce the impact of risk exposures and, by reducing the impact of insurance exposures, maximise resources available to support their core business.

Fund members are provided financial incentives to motivate best management practices through “hindsight adjustments” to premiums that offer rewards or sanctions based on their own experience. A comprehensive range of risk management services is offered to member agencies including an allocation of resources towards agency initiated “Sponsored Projects”.

In respect of workplace safety, detailed policy and guidelines were developed by the Premier’s Department and issued to agencies in 1999 under the “Taking Safety Seriously Program”. Benchmarks for improvement were established and the positive effect of improvements in occupational health and safety has been reflected in recent “hindsight” refunds to agencies.

The recent collapse of the HIH Insurance Group has had no adverse impact on the TMF. The only exposure of the Fund was a minor coverage within a large reinsurance program. There are no claims current against this cover and alternative arrangements have been made to replace HIH within the program.

5.6 financial risk management

The Public Authorities (Financial Arrangements) Act 1987 (PAFA Act) provides government agencies with power to borrow and invest funds, and enter derivative contracts, joint financing and joint venture arrangements.
The PAFA Act also provides for State government guarantees of financial arrangements entered into under the Act.

In 1999, Treasury reviewed the effectiveness of the PAFA Act as a control over NSW government agencies’ borrowings, investments, derivative transactions and joint ventures. It concluded that the Act could be made more effective in its coverage of agencies and the range of financial transactions being effected by government agencies. The Act was subsequently amended in the following ways:

  • the legislation became the sole source of legal power for agencies to enter into financial arrangements;

  • other entities controlled by Government agencies are now included in the Act’s coverage; and

  • joint ventures became regulated.

The amendments came into effect on 30 August 2000, with agencies able to exercise existing powers outside the PAFA Act until 1 March 2001.

Risk management reviews were undertaken during the current financial year to ensure that any potential financial risks to the State arising from existing

PAFA Act approvals were identified, appropriately managed and minimised.

If the Treasury Risk Management Committee, which oversaw the review process, is satisfied that an agency has appropriate risk management procedures, systems and policies in place, then the approvals under the Act are extended for a maximum of three years, at which time they will be subject to further review.

Other major financial risks are actively managed as follows:


NSW Treasury Corporation (TCorp) manages the Crown and the Roads and Traffic Authority debt portfolios. The primary debt management objective is the minimising of the market value cost of debt subject to specified risk constraints over the long term.

TCorp employs an active management style, characterised by positioning the portfolios, according to an interest rate view, with an expectation of adding value relative to a benchmark portfolio. Constraints on the management of the portfolios, including adherence to budget allocations, are detailed in memoranda of understandings between Treasury, Roads and Traffic Authority and TCorp.


The Trustee, SAS Trustee Corporation, is required by legislation to arrange for a triennial actuarial review of the defined benefit superannuation schemes under its administration. All demographic and economic assumptions used in calculating the gross liabilities are assessed against current experience.

The Trustee reviews the fund’s strategic asset allocation annually. The asset allocation to bonds and cash is generally around 30 percent of investments, with 70 per cent in growth assets, namely equities and property.

About a quarter of the fund assets is with market index investment managers, the remainder with active investment managers.


The TMF scheme's gross liabilities are actuarially assessed annually as part of the premium setting process.

The NSW Insurance Ministerial Corporation's investments are held with TCorp in the form of either investments in TCorp Hour-Glass facilities, or direct investment in an individually managed bond portfolio. Bonds represent an average of 60 percent of investments.

TCorp undertakes asset management directly for the bond portfolio and acts as manager of other fund managers for the other asset sectors. A Memorandum of Understanding between TCorp and the Treasury details investment policies and procedures and benchmarks for each asset class.

Budget Statement 2001 02 5 -

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