Welcome Remarks by Adelheid Burgi-Schmelz, Director IMF Statistics Department

At the Conference on Implementing the G-20 Data Gaps Recommendations: State of Play and Next Steps
Washington DC, March 30-31, 2011

Good morning, Let me first apologize that I am using such an old-fashioned paper script. This simply cannot compete with the impressive (tele-) prompter functionality on Mr. John Lipsky’s iPad.

Distinguished colleagues, ladies and gentlemen. Let me first join Mr. John Lipsky in adding my sincere welcome and thanks for your attendance in this conference. You came not only to address data gaps, but just in time for the famous Cherry Blossom here in Washington, D.C. Make sure to have a look while you are here! I believe events like this conference—bringing together senior officials and representatives of international institutions for a focused discussion—are one of the most effective ways in which the Fund can contribute to informed decision-making in major areas of economic policy. Few areas are as important and urgent today as strengthening the availability of data that are essential in maintaining financial stability. One key aspect of this task, of course, is filling the data gaps revealed by the recent financial crisis; Mr. Lipsky has outlined this very well.

So what is the focus of this conference?

As some of you may recall, it was right here in July 2009, when we sought your views on which data gaps were most relevant in the build up to the crisis and on proposals for strengthening future data collection.

Your views informed the production of the first report which was presented to the
G-20 Ministers of Finance and Central Bank Governors (G-20) in November 2009 outlining twenty recommendations. Following the endorsement of that report by the G-20, significant progress has been made towards meeting the challenge of closing identified data gaps.

In May 2010, the IMF and the FSB Secretariat produced a progress report to the
G-20, outlining plans of action and timetables. That report was informed by the discussions at the Senior Official Conference held in Basle in April last year.

The May 2010, report envisaged bilateral consultations to discuss with the authorities of G-20 economies the challenges, resource implications, and reporting practices involved in implementing the proposed work plans.

The aim was to reflect the findings in the next report to the G-20 that is expected to be delivered in June 2011. Therefore, the focus of this conference is to take stock of how far we have come and explore the way forward.

The Inter-Agency Group on Economic and Financial Statistics (IAG) has played a major role in taking this work forward

I would like to pay special tribute to the excellent collaboration of the Inter-Agency Group on Economic and Financial Statistics (IAG) agencies, which are all represented here today; the BIS, ECB, Eurostat, IMF, the OECD, World Bank and the United Nations.

As most of you know too well, the work we have embarked into requires strong institutional partnerships, not only at the international level, but also within the
G-20 economies where several agencies are involved in different strands of data.

During the bilateral consultations, my colleagues and I were delighted to learn that there was widespread appreciation of the work being done by the IAG in coordinating the G-20 data gaps initiative. The fruits of this collaboration are remarkably evident.

We have jointly established the Principal Global Indicators (PGI) website, which has been very successful in bringing data series for the G-20 economies on a common platform.

For those of you who are not yet aware, I am pleased to announce that yesterday, the PGI website country coverage was expanded to include the five members of the Financial Stability Board (FSB) that are not part of the G-20, but handle a significant volume of financial transactions particularly on G-SIFIs. These jurisdictions are Hong Kong SAR, The Netherlands, Singapore, Spain, and Switzerland. At the IMF, we are strongly committed to expanding the PGI and strengthening these mutually beneficial avenues of cooperation.

Bilateral consultations were extremely useful

I would also like to give special thanks to our colleagues who we met during our bilateral consultation missions—I can see many of you are already here today. This is a good testimony of the importance you accord to the G-20 data gaps initiative. Indeed, your candid views provided very useful insights and I am sure will enrich the discussions at this conference. In particular, while we learned a great deal about your various challenges, we understood that that there is a broad agreement on the identified data gaps that need to be addressed. We hope the discussions in the next two days will enlighten us further on the critical issues moving forward.

Looking forward

Before I conclude, let me also reiterate our commitment to continue engagement with you through exchanging views on this important work. As you have noted, we created a secure website where all the documents for the conference are now posted. The intention is to enhance the website and make it a permanent site where we can exchange views on topical issues relating to the G-20 Data Gaps Initiative—I invite you to become active members.

Unfortunately, my invitation here is not good enough. When I got started on this extranet site last night, I discovered that you need an electronic invitation sent by Mr. Andrew Kitili. He is right here, so don’t hesitate to talk to him if you have not yet gotten access.

With those few remarks, I welcome you to the conference and look forward to a very productive outcome. Thank you.


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