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The International Monetary Fund (IMF) today opens to public access, through the Internet, the electronic bulletin board for its Special Data Dissemination Standard (Special Standard), designed to provide information about the data dissemination practices of subscribing member countries. The internet address of the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) is http://dsbb.imf.org.
TheSpecial Standard and its associated bulletin board respond to the need for comprehensive and timely economic and financial data--with equal and ready access for all users--generated by increased global integration and the associated substantial expansion of financial flows.
Countries subscribing to the Special Standard undertake to follow sound practices regarding (i) the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data; (ii) access by the public to those data; (iii) the integrity of the data; and (iv) the quality of the data. As of today, 34 countries have subscribed to the Special Standard. They are as follows: Argentina, Austria, Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, France, Hungary, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lithuania, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Singapore, Slovenia, South Africa, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
The IMF's bulletin board posts information on the practices of subscribing countries in each of these areas--the so-called metadata. It also identifies a contact person or persons in the subscribing country and provides information on how to obtain the data. The IMF is currently exploring ways to facilitate electronic links from the DSBB to country data sites on the Internet.
As of today, the metadata for 18 countries are on the DSBB. They are Argentina Canada, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, Peru, the Philippines, Singapore, Slovenia, Switzerland, Thailand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. The IMF expects to post metadata for a number of other countries on the DSBB during the next few weeks.
The IMF's ministerial-level Interim Committee in April 1995 requested a set of standards to guide IMF members in providing economic and financial statistics to the public. A similar request was made to the IMF in June 1995 by the G-7 Heads of State at their Summit in Halifax. The Special Standard, which is designed for countries having or seeking access to international capital markets, was subsequently developed by IMF staff on the basis of consultations on best practices and needs with a wide array of data producers and users. Subscription to the Special Standard by IMF member countries is voluntary.
The practices that subscribing countries are expected to follow under the Special Standard are encompassed by four dimensions:
To ensure coverage, periodicity, and timeliness, the Special Standard focuses on the basic data that are most important to evaluate economic performance and policy in the real, fiscal, financial, and external sectors (see attached table).
To support ready and equal access by the public to basic data, theSpecial Standard prescribes advance dissemination of release calendars and simultaneous release of data to all interested parties.
To assist users in assessing the integrity of data, the Special Standard prescribes (i) dissemination of the terms and conditions under which official statistics are produced, including those relating to the confidentiality of individually identifiable information; (ii) identification of internal government access to data before release; (iii) identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical release; and (iv) provision of information about revisions and advance notice of major changes in methodology.
To assist users in assessing the quality of data, the Special Standard prescribes the dissemination of documentation on the methodology and sources used in preparing statistics; and the dissemination of component detail, reconciliations with related data, and statistical frameworks that support statistical cross-checks and provide assurance that the data are reliable.
The IMF expects that many countries will need to make changes in their dissemination practices in order to observe the best practices incorporated in the Special Standard. It is therefore providing for a transition period through the end of 1998 for countries to meet fully the standard. During this period, countries may subscribe to theSpecial Standard and appear on the bulletin board while they make the adjustments necessary to meet the standard. During the transition period the IMF, in cooperation with member countries, will continue to elaborate certain aspects of the Special Standard and to undertake review of its operation in light of experience.
Periodicity and timeliness: Daily ("D"); weekly or with lapse of no more than one week ("W") after the reference date or close of the reference week; monthly or with lapse of no more than one month ("M"); quarterly or with lapse of no more than one quarter ("Q"); annual ("A").
* Comprehensive statistical frameworks
# Tracking categories
1. Given that data are widely available from private sources, dissemination of official producers may be less time-sensitive. Although dissemination by recorded telephone messages or fax services is encouraged, dissemination of these data can be made part of other (preferably high-frequency) dissemination products.
IMF EXTERNAL RELATIONS DEPARTMENT