Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) are generally commercially oriented entities that can have a significant impact on a government’s financial performance and financial position. Globally, GBEs vary in size, the goods and services they deliver, their financial objectives, and their governance arrangements. GBEs include major enterprises in areas such as transportation and utilities.
Currently, the term “GBE” is defined in International Public Sector Accounting Standard™ (IPSAS™) 1, Presentation of Financial Statements. IPSASs are not developed for GBEs. The scope section of each IPSAS states that GBEs apply International Financial Reporting Standards issued by the International Accounting Standards Board. The IPSASB has received feedback indicating there are a wide range of entities being described as GBEs. Some of these entities clearly do not meet the IPSASB definition of a GBE. In other cases, there are different interpretations of components of the definition.
The IPSASB has developed two approaches to communicate its view of the entities to which IPSASs apply. Under the first approach, the IPSASB would describe the characteristics of public sector entities for which IPSASs are intended. This would be done by either drawing on the IPSASB’s current and developing literature or by reference to terminology in Government Finance Statistics reporting guidelines. Under this approach, there would no longer be a definition of GBE in the IPSASB literature.
Under the second approach, the definition of a GBE would be retained. The IPSASB would clarify the GBE definition and would possibly narrow it to entities with a profit-seeking objective.