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Note 1: Statement of accounting policies

Reporting entity

The Ministry is a government department as defined by section 2 of the Public Finance Act 1989 and is domiciled in New Zealand.

The primary objective of the Ministry is to provide services to the public rather than making a financial return. Accordingly, the Ministry has designated itself as a public benefit entity for the purpose of the New Zealand equivalents to International Financial Reporting Standards (NZ IFRS).

The financial statements of the Ministry are for the year ended 30 June 2011. The financial statements were authorised for issue by the Chief Executive of the Ministry on 30 September 2011.

The information in these financial statements comprises the revenue, expenditure, assets and liabilities associated with operating its Wellington, Auckland and Christchurch offices and the Milford Sound/Piopiotahi aerodrome for the full year.

These financial statements have been prepared pursuant to section 35 of the Public Finance Act 1989.

In addition, the Ministry has reported the Crown activities which it administered throughout 2010/2011.

Basis of preparation

Statement of compliance

The financial statements of the Ministry have been prepared in accordance with the requirements of the Public Finance Act 1989, which includes the requirement to comply with New Zealand generally accepted accounting practice (NZ GAAP) and Treasury Instructions.

These financial statements have been prepared in accordance with, and comply with, NZ IFRS and other applicable financial reporting standards as appropriate for public benefit entities.

The accounting policies set out below have been applied consistently to all periods presented in these financial statements.

Measurement base

The financial statements have been prepared on a historical cost basis, modified by the revaluation of certain fixed assets.

Functional and presentation currency

The financial statements are presented in New Zealand dollars and all values are rounded to the nearest thousand dollars ($000). The functional currency of the Ministry is the New Zealand dollar.

Standards, amendments, and interpretations issued that are not yet effective and have not been early adopted

Standards, amendments, and interpretations issued that are not yet effective and have not been early adopted and which are relevant to the Ministry, are:

  • NZ IFRS 9 Financial Instruments will eventually replace NZ IAS 39 Financial Instruments: Recognition and Measurement. NZ IAS 39 is being replaced through the following three main phases: Phase 1 Classification and Measurement, Phase 2 Impairment Methodology, and Phase 3 Hedge Accounting. Phase 1 on the classification and measurement of financial assets has been completed and has been published in the new financial instrument standard NZ IFRS 9. NZ IFRS 9 uses a single approach to determine whether a financial asset is measured at amortised cost or fair value, replacing the many different rules in NZ IAS 39. The approach in NZ IFRS 9 is based on how an entity manages its financial instruments (its business model) and the contractual cash flow characteristics of the financial assets. The new standard also requires a single impairment method to be used, replacing the many different impairment methods in NZ IAS 39. The new standard is required to be adopted for the year ended 30 June 2014. The Ministry has not yet assessed the effect of the new standard and expects it will not be early adopted.
  • FRS-44 New Zealand Additional Disclosures and Amendments to NZ IFRS to harmonise with IFRS and Australian Accounting Standards (Harmonisation Amendments).These were issued in May 2011 with the purpose of harmonising Australia and New Zealand’s accounting standards with source IFRS and to eliminate many of the differences between the accounting standards in each jurisdiction. The amendments must first be adopted for the year ended 30 June 2012. The Ministry has not yet assessed the effects of FRS-44 and the Harmonisation Amendments.

As the External Reporting Board is to decide on a new accounting standards framework for public benefit entities, it is expected that all new NZ IFRS and amendments to existing NZ IFRS with a mandatory effective date for annual reporting periods commencing on or after 1 January 2012 will not be applicable to public benefit entities. This means that the financial reporting requirements for public benefit entities are expected to be effectively frozen in the short term. Accordingly, no disclosure has been made about new or amended NZ IFRS that exclude public benefit entities from their scope.

Capital charge

The capital charge is recognised as an expense in the period to which it relates.

Budget figures

The budget figures are those included in the Information Supporting the Estimates of Appropriations for the Government of New Zealand for the year ending 30 June 2011, which are consistent with the financial information in the Main Estimates. In addition, the financial statements also present the updated budget information from the Supplementary Estimates. The budget figures have been prepared in accordance with NZ GAAP, using accounting policies that are consistent with those adopted in preparing these financial statements.

Revenue

The Ministry derives revenue from the provision of outputs to the Crown and for services to third parties. Such revenue is recognised when earned and is reported in the financial period to which it relates. Revenue is measured at the fair value of the consideration received or receivable.

Leases

Operating leases

An operating lease is where the lessor effectively retains substantially all the risks and benefits of ownership of the leased item. Lease payments under an operating lease are charged as expenses on a straight-line basis in the period in which they are incurred.

Financial instruments

The Ministry is party to financial instruments as part of its normal operations. These financial instruments include cash and bank balances, and accounts receivable and payable. Financial assets and financial liabilities are initially measured at fair value plus transaction costs, unless they are carried at fair value through profit or loss in which case the transaction costs are recognised in the statement of comprehensive income.

Cash and cash equivalents

Cash and cash equivalents include cash on hand and funds on deposit with banks and are measured at their face value.

Debtors, prepayments and other receivables

Debtors, prepayments and other receivables are initially measured at fair value and subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest rate, less impairment changes.

Impairment of a receivable is established when there is objective evidence that the Ministry will not be able to collect amounts due according to the original terms of the receivable. Significant financial difficulties of the debtor, probability that the debtor will enter into bankruptcy, and default in payments are considered indicators that the debtor is impaired. The amount of the impairment is the difference between the asset’s carrying amount and the present value of estimated future cash flows, discounted using the original effective interest rate. The carrying amount of the asset is reduced through the use of an allowance account, and the amount of the loss is recognised in the statement of comprehensive income. Overdue receivables that are renegotiated are reclassified as current (not past due).

Property, plant and equipment

Property, plant and equipment consist of leasehold improvements, furniture and fittings, office equipment, and the Milford Sound/Piopiotahi Aerodrome.

Property, plant and equipment is shown at cost or valuation, less accumulated depreciation and impairment losses.

All fixed assets costing more than $2,000 are capitalised. Assets of a lower cost are capitalised if they are attractive, to improve the control over them, for example, personal computers. Assets are valued at historical cost or estimated recoverable amount, less accumulated depreciation. Any write-down of an item to its recoverable amount is recognised in the statement of comprehensive income.

Additions

The cost of an item of plant and equipment is recognised as an asset if, and only if, it is probable that future economic benefits or service potential associated with the item will flow to the Ministry and the cost of the item can be measured reliably.

In most instances, an item of property, plant and equipment is recognised at its cost. Where an asset is acquired at no cost, or for a nominal cost, it is recognised at fair value as at the date of acquisition.

Disposal

Gains and losses on disposals are determined by comparing the proceeds with the carrying amount of the asset. Gains and losses on disposals are included in the statement of comprehensive income. When revalued assets are sold, the amounts included in the property, plant and equipment revaluation reserves in respect of those assets are transferred to general funds.

Revaluation

The Ministry does not revalue its assets, except for the Milford Sound/Piopiotahi Aerodrome (the aerodrome). The aerodrome is stated at optimised depreciated replacement cost as determined by an independent registered valuer. It is revalued at least every 5 years. Additions between revaluations are recorded at cost.

The result of revaluing the aerodrome is credited or debited to an asset revaluation reserve for that class of asset. Where a revaluation results in a debit balance in the revaluation reserve, the debit balance will be expensed in the statement of comprehensive income.

Subsequent costs

Costs incurred subsequent to initial acquisition are capitalised only when it is probable that future economic benefits or service potential associated with the item will flow to the Ministry and the cost of the item can be measured reliably.

Depreciation

Depreciation is provided on a straight-line basis on all property, plant and equipment, at rates that will write off the cost (or valuation) of the assets to their estimated residual values over their useful lives. The useful lives and associated depreciation rates of major classes of assets have been estimated as follows:

Furniture and fittings 10 years 10% per annum
Leasehold improvements 10 years 10% per annum
Milford Sound/Piopiotahi Aerodrome 3-100 years 1-33.3% per annum
Plant and equipment 3-10 years 10-33.3% per annum

Leasehold improvements are depreciated over the unexpired period of the lease or the estimated remaining useful lives of the improvements, whichever is the shorter.

Capital work in progress is not depreciated. The total cost of this work is transferred to the relevant asset category on the completion of the project and then depreciated.

The residual value and useful life of an asset is reviewed, and adjusted if applicable, at each financial year end.

Intangible assets

Software acquisition and development

Acquired computer software licenses are capitalised on the basis of the costs incurred to acquire and bring to use the specific software.

Costs associated with maintaining computer software are recognised as an expense when incurred. Costs that are directly associated with the development of software for internal use by the Ministry are recognised as an intangible asset. Direct costs include the software development, employee costs and an appropriate portion of relevant overheads.

Staff training cost is recognised as an expense when incurred.

Amortisation

The carrying value of an intangible asset with a finite life is amortised on a straight-line basis over its useful life. Amortisation begins when the asset is available for use and ceases at the date that the asset is derecognised. The amortisation charge for each period is recognised in the statement of comprehensive income.

The useful lives and associated amortisation rates of major classes of intangible assets have been estimated as follows:

Other software 3-5 years 20-33.3% per annum
Crash analysis system 2 years 50% per annum

Capital work in progress is not depreciated. The total cost of this work is transferred to the relevant asset category on the completion of the project and then depreciated. 

Impairment of non-financial assets

An intangible asset that is not yet available for use at the balance sheet date is tested annually for impairment.

Property, plant and equipment and intangible assets that have a finite useful life are reviewed for impairment whenever events or changes in circumstances indicate that the carrying amount may not be recoverable. An impairment loss is recognised for the amount by which the asset’s carrying amount exceeds its recoverable amount. The recoverable amount is the higher of an asset’s fair value less costs to sell, and value in use.

Value in use is the depreciated replacement cost for an asset where the future economic benefits or service potential of the asset are not primarily dependent on the asset’s ability to generate net cash inflows and where the entity would, if deprived of the asset, replace its remaining future economic benefits or service potential.

If an asset’s carrying amount exceeds its recoverable amount, the asset is impaired and the carrying amount is written down to the recoverable amount. For revalued assets, the impairment loss is recognised against the revaluation reserve for that class of asset. Where that results in a debit balance in the revaluation reserve, the balance is recognised in the statement of comprehensive income.

For assets not carried at a revalued amount, the total impairment loss is recognised in the statement of comprehensive income.

The reversal of an impairment loss on a revalued asset is credited to the revaluation reserve. However, to the extent that an impairment loss for that class of asset was previously recognised in the statement of comprehensive income, a reversal of the impairment loss is also recognised in that statement.

For assets not carried at a revalued amount, the reversal of an impairment loss is recognised in the statement of comprehensive income.

Creditors and other payables

Creditors and other payables are initially measured at fair value and subsequently measured at amortised cost using the effective interest method.

Employee entitlements

Employee entitlements include salaries and wages accrued up to balance date, annual leave earned but not yet taken at balance date, retirement and long service leave entitlements, and sick leave.

Current liability for employee entitlements

Employee entitlements that the Ministry expects to be settled within 12 months of balance date are measured at nominal values based on accrued entitlements at current rates of pay.

The Ministry recognises a liability for sick leave to the extent that absences in the coming year are expected to be greater than the sick leave entitlements earned in the coming year. The amount is calculated based on the unused sick leave entitlement that can be carried forward at balance date, to the extent that the Ministry anticipates it will be used by staff to cover those future absences.

The Ministry recognises a liability and an expense for bonuses where it is contractually obliged to pay them, or where there is a past practice that has created a constructive obligation.

Long-term employee entitlements

Entitlements that are payable beyond 12 months, such as long service leave and retirement leave, have been calculated on an actuarial basis, using a model for use by government entities that was developed by the Treasury during 2008/09 in consultation with a firm of actuaries.

The calculations are based on:

  • likely future entitlements based on years of service
  • years to entitlement
  • the likelihood that staff will reach the point of entitlement
  • contractual entitlements information
  • the present value of the estimated future cash flows

The discount rates used are detailed below and are in line with Treasury guidance.

2011/122012/13Outyears
Discount rate % 2.84 3.81 6.00
Salary inflation factor % 1.50 3.50 3.50

Defined contribution superannuation schemes

Obligations for employer contributions to the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme, Kiwisaver and the Government Superannuation Fund are accounted for as defined contribution schemes and are recognised as an expense in the statement of comprehensive income as incurred.

Taxpayers’ funds

Taxpayers’ funds are the Crown’s investment in the Ministry and are measured as the difference between total assets and total liabilities. Taxpayers’ funds are disaggregated and classified as general funds and asset revaluation reserves.

The Revaluation reserve - aerodrome relates to the revaluation of the aerodrome to fair value.

Provisions

The Ministry recognises a provision for future expenditure of uncertain amount or timing when:

  • there is a present obligation (either legal or constructive) as a result of a past event
  • it is probable that an outflow of future economic benefits will be required to settle the obligation and
  • a reliable estimate can be made of the amount of the obligation

Provisions are not recognised for future operating losses.

Provisions are measured at the present value of the expenditures expected to be required to settle the obligation, using a pre-tax discount rate that reflects current market assessments of the time value of money and the risks specific to the obligation. The increase in the provision due to the passage of time is recognised as a finance cost.

Goods and services tax (GST)

All items in the financial statements, including appropriation statements, are stated exclusive of GST, except for receivables and payables, which are stated on a GST inclusive basis. Where GST is not recoverable as input tax, then it is recognised as part of the related asset or expense.

The net amount of GST recoverable from, or payable to, the Inland Revenue Department is included as part of receivables or payables in the statement of financial position.

The net GST paid to, or received from the Inland Revenue Department, including the GST relating to investing and financing activities, is classified as an operating cash flow in the statement of cash flows.

Commitments and contingencies are disclosed exclusive of GST.

Income tax

Government departments are exempt from income tax as public authorities. Accordingly, no charge for income tax has been provided.

Statement of cash flows

Cash means cash balances on hand and held in bank accounts.

Operating activities include cash received from all income sources of the Ministry and record the cash payments made for the supply of goods and services.

Investing activities are those activities relating to the acquisition and disposal of non-current assets.

Financing activities comprise the payment to the Crown of the operating surplus achieved by the Ministry and any capital withdrawals or investments by the Crown.

Commitments

Expenses yet to be incurred on non-cancellable contracts that have been entered into on or before balance date are disclosed as commitments to the extent that there are equally unperformed obligations.

Contingent liabilities and contingent assets

Contingent liabilities and contingent assets are disclosed at the point at which the contingency is evident.

Statement of cost accounting policies

The Ministry has determined the cost of outputs using the cost allocation system outlined below.

Types of Cost

Direct costs are those costs directly attributed to an output. Indirect costs are those costs that cannot be identified with a specific output in an economically feasible manner.

Method of assigning direct costs to outputs

Direct costs, such as consultants, are charged to outputs on the basis of the cost of the service provided.

Personnel costs are allocated to outputs based on the time recording data from the Ministry’s time recording system.

Method of assigning indirect costs to outputs

Indirect costs are allocated to outputs through a two-stage process. The costs are assigned to cost centres within the Ministry, and then the costs are allocated to outputs on the basis of the direct staff time attributable to the outputs of that cost centre.

Critical accounting estimates and assumptions

In preparing these financial statements, the Ministry has made estimates and assumptions about the future. These estimates and assumptions may differ from the subsequent actual results. Estimates and judgements are continually evaluated and are based on historical experience and other factors, including expectations of future events that are believed to be reasonable under the circumstances. The estimates and assumptions that have a significant risk of causing a material adjustment to the carrying amounts of assets and liabilities within the next financial year are discussed below.

Retirement and long service leave

Note 15 provides an analysis of the exposure in relation to estimates and uncertainties surrounding retirement and long service leave liabilities.

Useful lives of property, plant and equipment and intangible assets

Useful lives of assets are determined by the Ministry based on its best assessment of the asset’s use.

Critical judgements in applying the Ministry’s accounting policies

Management has exercised the following critical judgements in applying the Ministry’s accounting policies for the year ended 30 June 2011.

Operating lease

Determining whether a lease agreement is a finance lease or an operating lease requires judgement as to whether the agreement transfers substantially all the risks and rewards of ownership to the Ministry. Judgement is required on various aspects that include, but are not limited to, the fair value of the leased asset, the economic life of the leased asset, whether or not to include renewal options in the lease term and determining an appropriate discount rate to calculate the present value of the minimum lease payments. Classification as a finance lease means the asset is recognised in the statement of financial position as property, plant and equipment. With an operating lease, no such asset is recognised.

The Ministry has exercised its judgement on the appropriate classification of accommodation leases, and has determined the lease arrangements to be operating leases.

Changes in accounting policies

The accounting policies have been applied consistently to all years presented in these schedules.

The Ministry has early adopted NZ IAS 24 Related Party Disclosures (Revised 2009). The effect of early adopting the revised NZ IAS 24 is:

  • more information is required to be disclosed about transactions between the Ministry and entities controlled, jointly controlled, or significantly influenced by the Crown
  • commitments with related parties require disclosure
  • information is required to be disclosed about any related party transactions with Ministers of the Crown with portfolio responsibility for the Ministry. An exemption is provided from reporting transactions with other Ministers of the Crown

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