Reports on Observance of Standards and Codes

Bulgaria and the IMF

Bulgaria ROSC
I.  Overview
II.  Data Dissemination
III.  Fiscal Transparency
IV.  Transparency of Monetary Policy
V.  Banking Supervision
VI.  System of Deposit Insurance
VII.  Insurance Supervision
VIII.  Securities Market Supervision

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II.  Data Dissemination1

Prepared by a staff team from the International Monetary Fund on the basis of information provided by the Bulgarian authorities..

Prepared in August 1999 and reissued in March 2000

1.  The principal standard against which the transparency of Bulgaria’s macroeconomic data is assessed is the IMF’s General Data Dissemination System (GDDS).2 The GDDS focuses on (i) improving data quality through providing a framework for evaluating the need for data improvements and prioritizing such improvements, and (ii) providing guidance on data dissemination. The focus on data quality recognizes the fact that for many countries improvements in data quality are a necessary precursor to enhanced dissemination of data to the public. The features of the GDDS take account of the fact that substantial improvements in data compilation and dissemination practices take considerable time.


2.  The GDDS places emphasis on sound practices in four dimensions: data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness; the quality of the disseminated data; the integrity of the disseminated data; and access by the public. The GDDS covers data in five sectors: real, fiscal, financial, external, and socio-demographic. The GDDS emphasizes the development of core statistical frameworks and indicators supplemented by encouraged data systems and indicators. Participation in the GDDS is voluntary; it requires a commitment to use the GDDS as a framework for statistical development, designation of a country coordinator, and preparation of metadata for posting on the Internet on the IMF’s Data Standards Bulletin Board.3 The structure of the GDDS provides a development path to subscription to the more demanding SDDS.

3.  Bulgaria has committed to participate in the GDDS, has named a coordinator, and substantial progress has been made on the development of metadata.

A.  Institutional Framework

4.  Three agencies are primarily responsible for the production and dissemination of data covered by the GDDS—The National Statistical Institute (NSI), the Bulgarian National Bank, and the Ministry of Finance.

5.  The NSI is the official statistical agency of Bulgaria and is responsible for production and dissemination of real sector and part of the socio-demographic data. The Statistics Act of June 25, 1999 governs the activities of the NSI as well as other statistical bodies. The Act does not specify the statistical areas covered by the NSI, but it does establish a National Statistical Council whose functions include coordination of statistical responsibility among agencies and the development of a long-term strategy for statistical development. The NSI disseminates data under the provisions of the Statistics Law, and the confidentiality of reporting is guaranteed. The dissemination policies and practices of the NSI closely follow the recommendations of the GDDS with respect to data integrity and access by the public. Data are released to the public and government officials simultaneously and advance release calendars are in an advanced planning stage. The NSI disseminates data primarily through press releases and hardcopy publications, but a new Internet web site is expected to be launched in late summer 1999, which will substantially expand the availability and transparency of data and explanatory materials.

6.  The BNB compiles and disseminates data on the financial sector (broad money survey, central bank aggregates, and interest rates), and the external sector (balance of payments, total external debt, merchandise trade, international reserves, and exchange rates). Data on merchandise trade are also compiled by the NSI (based on the same input data), which disseminates them with more detailed classifications but lower periodicity. By law, the BNB has the right to require banks and others to report information, has the obligation to compile the balance of payments for Bulgaria, and must maintain the confidentiality of the individual reported information. BNB practices with regard to access and integrity are close to GDDS recommendations, and improvements are planned in the area of advance release calendars, which are not presently disseminated, and the dissemination of more detailed methodological notes. The BNB disseminates, as a public service, statistical data that it compiles on the financial and external sectors, along with selected summary statistical data compiled by the Ministry of Finance and the NSI in press releases, and/or publications, as well as on its web site (

7.  The Ministry of Finance operates under the provisions of the Organic Budget Law and is responsible for compiling and disseminating data for central government operations and, in conjunction with the BNB, central government debt. Data on bilateral government debt are not disseminated, since these data are considered state secrets. As a public service, through its publications the MOF compiles and disseminates on a monthly basis data on revenue and expenditure summaries, the overall budgetary position, and domestic and external financing, and in conjunction with the BNB, monthly data on domestic and external debt. It also provides summary updates of central government operations on a biweekly basis through press releases and a press conference by the Minister of Finance. To provide wider dissemination, the Ministry of Finance plans to post these data on a web site to be inaugurated in Fall 1999. While annual fiscal data are disseminated in Bulgaria for the main aggregates, detailed annual data which can be used for fiscal analysis are not.

B.  Description of Practice

8.  The production and dissemination practices for macroeconomic data in Bulgaria are summarized and compared with the recommendations of the GDDS in Table 1.

9.  Real sector data for national accounts, producer and consumer prices, and production generally conform to the GDDS recommendations for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness. Annual and quarterly national accounts are produced according to the recommendations of the 1993 System of National Accounts (1993 SNA) and the 1995 European System of Accounts (1995 ESA), but only the annual data are widely disseminated. There are problems related to the coverage of economic activity in the national accounts measures, particularly relating to the non-observed economy, but these problems are acknowledged and measures are being taken to address them by improving response rates to surveys and improving indirect measures of underground activities. The producer price index and index of industrial production are compiled monthly and disseminated on a timely basis. A number of shortcomings in these indices including sampling response rates are currently being addressed, and revisions of the indices will be introduced in the coming year. The consumer price index is produced monthly following international guidelines, and on a timely basis. Timely monthly data are also produced for employment, unemployment, and wages. An NSI self assessment indicates that the compilation of the wage data is affected by methodological problems.

10.  Financial sector data are produced and disseminated according to the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness recommendations of the GDDS. Data for the banking system meet the coverage recommendations for the broad money survey, and detailed data are disseminated for the accounts of the BNB and the commercial banks. Separate information is provided in the monetary survey for positions of banks in liquidation. This substantially increases the transparency of the monetary data, as credit and deposits of operating banks can be isolated from banks that have been closed. A wide range of interest rate data are also disseminated.

11.  The external sector data meet the GDDS data dissemination recommendations for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness. Improvements are planned in compilation procedures of selected current (transportation and travel) and financial (private sector data) transactions. The MOF and the BNB compile and disseminate monthly data on external debt, and will begin compiling International Investment Position data before the end of 1999.

12.  Fiscal sector data are produced monthly according to the recommendations of the GDDS for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness. The use of biweekly press releases and related press conferences by the Minister of Finance provides wide dissemination of budgetary operations on a timely basis, which is expected to improve further with development of a Ministry of Finance web site in Fall 1999. However, detailed annual data for the fiscal sector are not disseminated in Bulgaria. Comprehensive, detailed annual data are compiled and sent to the IMF for publication in the GFS Yearbook, but such data are not currently disseminated locally.

C.  IMF Staff Commentary

13.  Bulgaria has made good progress in improving the transparency of its statistical system. In the recent past, the statistical system was oriented to support government policies, and the steps being taken to move toward an independent data dissemination system which could be used to identify government priorities represent a major departure from past practices. In recent years the authorities have moved to improve the scope, timeliness, and public access to economic data; more importantly, the production and dissemination process has improved data integrity. Advance access by government officials to unreleased data has been limited, and the use of advance release calendars to promote good data dissemination practices is being developed. The authorities have started to utilize press releases and the Internet to expand the scope and timeliness for public dissemination of official data, and see this expanding in the near future.

14.  Bulgaria’s decision to participate in the GDDS is a significant step in improving the compilation and dissemination of data. While current data compilation and dissemination practices meet most GDDS recommendations, and in many cases go beyond them, other areas still need attention. In particular, trade data, usually among the most reliable balance of payments components, have been subject to prolonged and large adjustments, which create significant balance of payments revisions and complicate external sector analysis. In regard to the national accounts, despite the development of a sound methodological foundation for data collection, including recent improvements in developing a true industrial production index, Bulgaria still shares many of the survey reporting problems in measuring output and inflation common to transition economies, impairing the monitoring of real sector developments. In the fiscal sector, the current data reporting system does not provide an adequate basis for the analysis of structural issues, and the authorities should persevere in their plans to move from a system which focuses on financial management to a well-functioning Treasury system. Finally, the transparency of external debt data could be improved by disseminating a broader range of information on external debt, including bilateral debt.

Table 1. Bulgaria: Data Categories and Indicators
Data Categories Indicators Periodicity
(GDDS recommendations)
(GDDS recommendations)
Real sector
National accounts
GDP (nominal and real)
Gross national income
Gross national saving
Annual and

110 days
(6–9 months)
3 months
Manufacturing or industrial Monthly
One month
(6 weeks–3 months)
Price indices Consumer price index

Producer price index
10 days
(1–2 months)
1 month
(1–2 months)
Labor market
Employment index
(annual for all)
6–7 weeks
2 weeks
6–7 weeks
(6–9 months for all)
Fiscal sector
Revenue, expenditure, deficit, financing Monthly
1 month
(1 quarter)
government debt
Domestic and foreign debt Monthly
1 month
(1–2 quarters)
Financial sector
Broad money and credit aggregates Net external position, domestic credit, broad or narrow money Monthly-summary weekly
1 month
(1–3 months)
Central bank
Reserve money Weekly
5 days
(1–2 months)
Interest rates Short and long-term government securities rates
Policy variable rate (not in use)
Lending and deposit rates
Monthly-base rate weekly
Disseminated in monthly bulletin
Stock market Not significant at this time n.a. n.a.
External sector
Balance of
Imports and exports of goods and services, income, current transfers, current account balance, reserves, overall balance Monthly
(annual-quarterly strongly
8 weeks
(6 months)
Gross official reserves denominated in BGN
Gross official reserves denominated in (US$) (Euros)
1 day
(1–4 weeks)
External debt Total external debt Monthly
(no specification)
5 weeks(no specification)
Merchandise trade Total exports and total imports Monthly
8 weeks
(8 weeks–3 months)
Exchange rates Spot rates Daily
Same day

1 Prepared by Mr. O’Connor and Mr. Sisson (both Statistics Department), in consultation with the Bulgarian authorities and European I Department. In preparing this chapter IMF staff held discussions with officials of the Bulgarian National Bank, the National Statistical Institute, and the Ministry of Finance.

2 Information on the IMF’s General Data Dissemination System and the related Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) can be found on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board on the Internet at

3 Metadata refers to information about the data, such as how data are compiled and disseminated, data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness, etc.


I. Overview         Bulgaria ROSC         III. Fiscal Transparency