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Updating the 1993 SNA

Incremental Procedure for Updating the 1993 SNA

In 1999 the United Nations Statistical Commission (UNSC) during its 30th session endorsed the proposal of an incremental mechanism for continuous updating of the 1993 SNA in order to maintain the systems relevance in a fast evolving world economy and to resolve ambiguities that may appear during its implementation. Extracts from the proposal approved by the Statistical Commission are given in SNA News and Notes, Issue 7, January 1998.

The updating mechanism includes four types: editorial amendment, clarification beyond dispute, interpretation and change.

The incremental updating has been conducted in accordance with the following procedure:
Stage of handlingEditorial AmendmentClarification beyond disputeInterpretationChange *
ProposalISWGNA reviews the proposal and classifies it
Preliminary DraftingISWGNAISWGNAISWGNA assisted by a panel of expertsISWGNA assisted by a panel of experts
1st Discussion  Working parties or regional panels of expertsWorking parties or regional panels of experts
2nd Discussion   National statistical offices in all regions
Final Drafting  ISWGNA assisted by a panel of expertsISWGNA assisted by a panel of experts
Approve  Member countries of Statistical Commission during 60-day periodMember countries of Statistical Commission during 60-day period (see 1999 Statistical Commission report, para. 18 (a)
PublicationErrata Sheet and correction of the online PDF versionSNA News and Notes, then periodic bookletSNA News and Notes, then periodic bookletSNA News And Notes, then periodic booklet and correction of the online PDF version
*/ After investigation and discussions, ISWGNA may conclude that the issue does not warrant a change in the 1993 SNA. This official position is announced in the SNA News and Notes.
Editorial Amendment

Editorial amendments refer to wording errors, apparent contradictions or translation errors in the non-English versions. Their main characteristic is that their correction will affect neither concepts nor the structure of the system and the tables therein. ISWGNA will discuss and decide on the final version, which will be published as an errata sheet.

Clarification Beyond Dispute

This type of amendment would arise when a new economic situation has emerged, or a situation that was negligible when the 1993 SNA was designed has since grown considerably in importance. ISWGNA will provide explanations, as needed, in order to arrive at unambiguous interpretations of existing SNA rules. It is important in that context to establish clearly that there is no conceptual issue concealed within the clarification.

The following clarifications have been issued by the ISWGNA:
Intangible assets, patents and copyrights in the 1993 SNA
Implementing the SNA 1993: inconsistent treatment of patents and scientific originals
Treatment of seignorage profits

Where new economic situations have emerged and their treatment in national accounts is not clear, various solutions on how to treat the phenomenon in question in national accounting may be put forward, indicating that there seems to be room for different interpretations of SNA 1993 rules. As a result of the interpretation process a preferred solution is put forward for the treatment of the issue.

The following interpretations have been issued by the ISWGNA:
Other subsidies on production to non-market producers
Treatment of output of central banks
Current issues of the implementation of the 1993 SNA: Treatment of Mobile Phone Licences

Due to changes in the macroeconomic environment, some of the basic concepts in the 1993 SNA may become irrelevant and may even result in figures that might mislead users. In that case, relevant parts of the SNA text must be substantially revised to reflect those changes.

The following changes were approved by the UNSC and incorporated in the PDF version of the 1993 SNA:
Revision of functional classifications of expenditures: COFOG, COICOP, COPNI and COPP
Treatment of financial derivatives
Treatment of Costs Incurred in Transferring Ownership of Assets - No change
List of all paragraphs that were changed in the online PDF version
Review of the Incremental Procedure for Updating the 1993 SNA

Over time the approved incremental updating process was increasingly considered inadequate, to slow, and to partial. Aspects of globalisation and the appearances of new economic phenomena have led to new topics that warrant a comprehensive rather than an incremental update of 1993 SNA.

In response to this, the UNSC at its 34th session in 2003 adopted a more consolidated review of the 1993 SNA. All information about the comprehensive update towards the 2008 SNA can be found on the Update Project's website 'Towards 2008 SNA'.

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