Two accounting systems are used to report general government accounts, providing aggregates and indicators that are essential to monitor public finances: public accounting and national accounts.
Compliance with the fiscal discipline criteria laid down in the Maastricht Treaty, in particular a budget deficit below the 3% of GDP benchmark is assessed on the basis of the general government figures according to national accounts. These figures are published by the Portuguese Statistical Authority (Statistics Portugal or INE) on an annual and quarterly basis, and the latter are made available 90 days after the end of the respective quarter.
The figures in public accounts compiled by the Directorate-General for Budget (DGO) for general government as a whole, allow a timelier monitoring of public accounts developments since they are available earlier than the national accounts statistics.
However, the difference between the results of these two perspectives has stirred an increasing interest for its clarification. This Notebook attempts to improve the general public’s knowledge of the differences between the budget balances, determined according to the public accounting system and in national accounts, which are analysed on a regular basis by the Portuguese Public Finance Council (CFP).