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Accounting and Financial Reporting for Intergovernmental Organizations

At a glance


The European Southern Observatory (ESO), an inter-governmental astronomy organization which is currently supported by 15 Member States (MS), aims to construct the E-ELT, an extremely large optical telescope. To finance this project, ESO would potentially depend on a long term loan. Hence respective frame agreements with the European Investment Bank have already been carried out. However, some MS are reluctant to accept ESO to take up external financing since this might negatively affect General Government Debt (GGD) of the MS, therefore also influencing convergence criteria set by the Maastricht treaty. ESO has therefore asked the Institute of Public Management (IPM) of the Zurich University of Applied Sciences (ZUAS) to provide an expert opinion on this topic.

It is of particular interest, how external debt financing of inter-governmental organizations, namely ESO, will affect GGD of its MS, both from the perspectives of Government Financial Statistics (GFS), which includes the Government Financial Statistics Manual GFSM 2001, the European System of Accounts ESA 2010 and the Manual on Government Deficit and Debt EMGDD) or General Purpose Financial Reports (GPFR), including the International Public Sector Accounting Standards (IPSAS):

  • GFS: Do inter-governmental organization, namely ESO, belong to the General Government Sector (GGS)? How would external debt financing of inter-governmental organization affect GGD of its MS?

  • GPFR: According to IPSAS, how do MS need to account for inter-governmental organizations, namely ESO, and how this would affect national debt?