Reserve Bank of Australia Annual Report – 1999 Financial Statements Note 1 – Summary of Accounting Policies

Notes To and Forming Part of the Financial Statements – 30 June 1999
Reserve Bank of Australia and controlled entities

The financial statements have been prepared in accordance with the Reserve Bank Act and the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Act.

The form and content of the financial statements have been amended to incorporate the requirements of Order Number 5 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Orders 1998. Clause 3 (4) of Schedule 2 of this Order provides:

The Reserve Bank of Australia must comply with Australian Accounting Standards (including AAS32, entitled Specific Disclosures by Financial Institutions) and Urgent Issues Group Consensus Views. In the event of a conflict between the requirements of the standards and the requirements of this Schedule, the Bank must comply with the requirements of the standards.

The Bank has been granted certain exemptions from the requirements of the Orders as detailed in Note 1 (k). These exemptions relate to matters of disclosure and presentation which are of a minor nature and are adequately dealt with in these financial statements.

The statements are a general purpose financial report prepared in accordance with Australian Accounting Standards. Unless otherwise stated, the accounting policies and practices followed in these statements are consistent with those followed in the previous year.

All amounts are expressed in Australian dollars unless another currency is indicated. Current market values are used for the Bank's major assets, including domestic and foreign marketable securities, gold and foreign currency, as well as for premises and shares in international financial institutions. In other cases, an historical cost basis of accounting is used. Revenue and expenses are brought to account on an accrual basis.

(a) Consolidation and associated company

The financial statements show information for the economic entity only; this reflects the consolidated results for the parent entity, the Reserve Bank of Australia and its wholly owned subsidiary, Note Printing Australia Limited. The results of the parent entity do not differ materially from the economic entity and have therefore not been separately disclosed other than in Note 15, Related party and other disclosures.

Note Printing Australia Limited was incorporated as a wholly owned subsidiary of the Bank on 1 July 1998, with an initial capital of $20,000,000.

The assets, liabilities, profit and loss account of Note Printing Australia Limited have been consolidated with the parent entity accounts in accordance with AAS24 “Consolidated Financial Reports”. All internal transactions and balances have been eliminated on consolidation. Note Printing Australia Limited is subject to income tax; its income tax expense is included in Other Expenses in Note 2.

The Bank accounts for Securency Pty Ltd in accordance with AAS14 “Accounting for Investments in Associated Companies”. The carrying amount of the Bank's investment in Securency Pty Ltd is reviewed annually to ensure it is not in excess of its recoverable amount. The Bank's investment in Securency Pty Ltd is included in Note 6.

(b) Gold

Gold holdings (including gold on loan to other institutions) are valued at the Australian dollar equivalent of the 3pm fix in the London gold market on the last business day of June. The Bank loans gold to financial institutions participating in the gold market. All gold loans are secured to 110% of their market value by Australian denominated collateral security. Loans are usually for periods between 3 and 12 months, with very few extending beyond 12 months. Interest on gold loans is accounted for on a standard accrual basis.

(c) Foreign exchange

Foreign exchange holdings are invested mainly in securities (issued by the governments of the United States, Japan and Germany) and bank deposits (with major OECD foreign commercial banks and central banks. The Bank engages in interest rate futures and foreign currency swaps, and has purchased call options.

Assets and liabilities denominated in foreign currency, other than those subject to swap contracts, are converted to Australian dollar equivalents at exchange rates ruling on the last business day of June. Realised and unrealised gains or losses on foreign currency are immediately taken to profit and loss.

Foreign government securities

Foreign government securities comprise coupon and discount securities and repurchase agreements. Coupon securities have bi-annual or annual interest payments depending on the currency and type of security. Interest earned on discount securities is the difference between the actual purchase cost and the face value of the security. The face value is received at maturity. Interest earned on securities is accrued over the term of the security.

Marketable securities, other than those contracted for sale under repurchase agreements, are reported at market values on the last business day of June; realised and unrealised gains and losses arising from changes in market valuations during the year are taken to the profit and loss account. Earnings on foreign currency investments are converted to Australian dollars using the exchange rate of the date they are received.

Foreign currency swaps

The Bank uses foreign currency swaps to assist daily domestic liquidity management or to smooth the impact of other foreign currency transactions on Official Reserve Assets. A currency swap is the simultaneous purchase and sale of one currency against another currency for specified maturities. The cash flows are the same as borrowing one currency for a set period, and lending another currency for the same period. The pricing of the swap must therefore reflect the interest rates applicable to these money market transactions. Interest rates are implicit in the swap contract but interest itself is not paid or received.

Foreign exchange holdings contracted for sale beyond 30 June 1999 (including those under swap contracts) have been valued at contract exchange rates.

Interest rate futures

The Bank uses interest rate futures contracts on overseas exchanges to hedge its portfolio of foreign securities. An interest rate futures contract is a contract to buy or sell a specific amount of securities for a specific price on a specific future date.

Interest rate futures, foreign currency swaps and call options purchased are off-balance sheet items. The Bank did not trade in any other derivative instruments during 1998/99.

(d) Domestic government securities

The Bank holds Commonwealth Government Bonds, Treasury Notes, Capital Indexed Bonds, and Treasury Adjustable Bonds. It also holds Australian dollar-denominated securities issued by the central borrowing authorities of State and Territory Governments where these are acquired under repurchase agreements. Realised and unrealised gains or losses on domestic government securities are immediately taken to profit and loss.

Commonwealth Government Bonds are coupon securities; the interest is payable bi-annually at the coupon rate. Commonwealth Treasury Notes are discount securities; the interest earned is the difference between the purchase price and the face value on redemption. Capital Indexed Bonds are coupon securities with the nominal value of the security indexed in line with movements in the consumer price index each quarter until maturity; interest is paid quarterly. Treasury Adjustable Bonds are securities whose coupon rate is periodically reset by reference to movements in the Australian Bank Bill Swap Reference Rate; interest is payable each quarter.

Securities are valued at market prices on the last business day of June except when contracted for sale under repurchase agreements.

(e) Repurchase agreements

In the course of its financial market operations, the Bank engages in repurchase agreements involving foreign and domestic marketable securities.

Securities sold but contracted for purchase under repurchase agreements are reported on the balance sheet within the relevant investment portfolio and are valued at market prices; the counterpart obligation to repurchase is included in “Other liabilities”. The difference between the sale and repurchase price was previously recognised in the profit and loss account as an offset to interest income over the term of the agreement. The difference between the sale and repurchase price has been reclassified as interest expense in the profit and loss account. Comparative figures have been adjusted.

Securities held but contracted for sale under repurchase agreements are reported within the relevant investment portfolio at contract amount. The difference between the purchase and sale price is recognised as interest income over the term of the agreement.

(f) Property, plant and equipment

A formal valuation of the Bank's properties is conducted on a triennial basis. The most recent valuation was at 30 June 1998, when Australian properties were valued by officers of the Australian Valuation Office and overseas properties were valued by local independent valuers. The valuations have been incorporated in the accounts.

Annual depreciation is based on market values and assessments of useful remaining life.

Plant and equipment are recorded at cost less depreciation, which is calculated at rates appropriate to the estimated useful life of the relevant assets. Depreciation rates are reviewed annually, and adjusted where necessary to reflect the most recent assessments of the useful life of assets.

In the opinion of the Board, values of plant and equipment in the financial statements do not exceed recoverable values.

Details of annual net expenditure, revaluation adjustments and depreciation of these assets are included in Note 7.

(g) Reserves

Reserves are maintained to cover the broad range of risks to which the Bank is exposed. The Reserve Bank Reserve Fund is a general reserve which provides for potential losses arising from fraud and other non-insured losses. The Treasurer determines each year, after consultation with the Board, the amount to be credited to the Reserve Fund.

The Reserve for Contingencies and General Purposes provides cover against risks relating to events which are contingent and non-foreseeable. The major risks in the category arise from movements in market values of the Bank's holding of domestic and foreign securities. Amounts set aside for this Reserve are determined by the Treasurer after consultation with the Board.

Asset revaluation reserves reflect the impact of changes in the market values of a number of the Bank's assets (gold, premises, and shares in international financial institutions).

Unrealised gains on foreign exchange and domestic government securities are recognised in the profit and loss account. Until such gains are realised, they are not available for distribution to the Commonwealth of Australia; in the interim the amounts are retained in the Unrealised Profits Reserve.

(h) Provisions

The Bank maintains provisions for accrued annual leave, calculated on salaries prevailing at balance date and including associated payroll tax. The Bank also maintains provisions for long service leave and post-employment benefits, in the form of health insurance and housing assistance, and associated fringe benefits tax; these provisions are made on a present value basis in accordance with AAS 30. In addition, the Bank makes provision for future workers' compensation claims in respect of incidents which have occurred before balance date, based on an independent actuarial assessment.

(i) Australian notes on issue

The Bank assesses regularly the value of notes still outstanding at least five years after the note issue ceased which are judged to have been destroyed and therefore unavailable for presentation. $19 million was written off Australian notes on issue in 1998/99; no amounts were written off in 1997/98.

(j) Rounding

Amounts in the financial statements are rounded off to the nearest million dollars unless otherwise stated.

(k) Exemptions

The Bank has been granted exemptions from the following requirements of Order Number 5 of the Commonwealth Authorities and Companies Orders:

Clause Description Detail of exemption
5 (1) Rounding Amounts are rounded to the nearest million dollars in these financial statements rather than to the nearest hundred thousand dollars in view of the size of the Bank's balance sheet.
9 (1) (c) Standard forms to be used The cash flow statement is provided in Note 19.
10 Items of revenue and expense Details of revenues and expenses are disclosed in Note 2.
18 Analysis of property, plant and equipment Information is included in Note 7 of these financial statements. These disclosures are more relevant than the dissections required by Clause 18 of the Orders.