Selected Decisions and Selected Documents of the IMF, Thirty- Seventh Issue -- Summing Up by the Acting Chairman—General Data Dissemination System, Executive Board Meeting 97/125, December 19, 1997Prepared by the Legal Department of the IMF
As updated as of December 31, 2013
|ARTICLE VIII, SECTION 5|
|Furnishing of Information|
Summing Up by the Acting Chairman—General Data Dissemination System
Executive Board Meeting 97/125, December 19, 1997
Executive Directors welcomed the report provided in SM/97/275 and the staff proposal for the establishment of the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS). They recognized that the establishment of the GDDS was an important step for all Fund members not only in providing guidance in the provision of data to the public, but also in encouraging improvements in the quality and accessibility of economic, financial, and socio-demographic data.
In light of the above considerations, the Executive Board approved today the establishment of the GDDS, whose scope, operational characteristics, and mode of implementation are set forth in the revised draft Annex V of SM/97/275, Correction 1.
Executive Directors generally agreed with the purposes and orientation of the GDDS. In particular, Directors supported a system that recognized that for many countries improvements in data quality were a necessary precursor to enhanced dissemination of data to the public. The GDDS was seen as a useful framework for development of a broad range of statistics, including major macroeconomic and financial data, as well as socio-demographic indicators.
Directors endorsed the staff’s proposals concerning implementation by countries of the General System. They agreed that participation in the GDDS should be voluntary, and they supported the three elements of participation: commitment to use the GDDS as a framework for statistical development; designation of a country coordinator to work with the Fund; and development of metadata. The metadata were considered important as a means for identifying strengths and weaknesses in existing data systems, developing plans for improving data, and providing users with a means for assessing countries’ practices and developmental plans against the objectives recommended by the General System. As the GDDS was recognized as a long-term exercise for many countries, the metadata were also seen as useful for tracking counties’ improvements over time. The recommendation in the GDDS to focus primarily on a set of core frameworks and indicators, supplemented by encouraged data systems and categories, was viewed as useful, as it made the General System relevant to a very broad range of countries and provided a clear set of links between the GDDS and the SDDS. These links would be particularly helpful to countries that wished to use participation in the GDDS as a step toward subscription to the SDDS.
A few Directors suggested a number of additions to the core data specifications of the GDDS, including in the areas of national accounts, and more fiscal data, including off-budget transactions, and the accounts of local and regional governments. The staff will explore these suggestions and report in the context of the next review of the GDDS.
Most Directors supported inclusion in the GDDS of a set of sock-demographic indicators because of the importance of these data in assessing economic developments in many of the likely participating countries. However, some Directors reiterated that the responsibility for development of social indicators should be left primarily to other international organizations, and some expressed doubts regarding the appropriateness of inclusion of these data in the GDDS. Directors agreed that there should be close cooperation with regional and other international organizations.
Directors acknowledged the importance of the access and integrity dimensions of the GDDS, as aspects of openness and transparency. The principles embodied in these dimensions were not yet standard practice in many countries, and it was therefore considered appropriate that the GDDS focus on the development of these dimensions in the practices of data compiling and disseminating agencies.
Most Directors supported a phased approach to the implementation of the GDDS that focused first on education and training through development of appropriate documentation and presentation of seminars and workshops. It was recognized that the GDDS was a very ambitious project, both for the Fund and for countries that might wish to participate, and many Directors agreed that a longer-term approach to implementation was appropriate in recognition of the substantial resource costs to the Fund and the resource costs to, and absorptive capacity of, participating countries.
Executive Directors agreed with the staff’s proposal to begin the compilation of metadata on participating countries’ statistical practices and plans for improvement. Most Directors endorsed the proposal that the Fund disseminate these metadata to the public through an electronic bulletin board, as the most efficient means. However, Directors agreed not to preclude other means of communication, given the different situations of members. Directors also pointed out the need to clearly distinguish between the bulletin boards for the GDDS and the SDDS.
Annex V of SM/97/275, Cor. 11
The General Data Dissemination System
• Purposes and Framework
The purposes of the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) are (1) to encourage member countries to improve data quality; (2) to guide member countries in the provision to the public of comprehensive, timely, accessible, and reliable economic, financial, and socio-demographic statistics in a world of increasing economic and financial integration; and (3) to provide a framework for evaluating needs for data improvement and dissemination as well as setting priorities. The GDDS framework thus comprises four dimensions: (a) coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data; (b) access by the public; (c) integrity of the disseminated data; and (d) quality of the disseminated data. For each of the four dimensions, the GDDS describes good practices to serve as objectives in the development of national systems of data production and dissemination. Box 1 provides an overview of the four dimensions of the GDDS.
• Dimensions of the GDDS
1. Coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of data
Dissemination of reliable, comprehensive, and timely economic, financial, and sociodemographic data is essential to the transparency of macroeconomic performance and policy. Thus, the GDDS recommends the dissemination of data as described in Table 1.
Table 1. The General Data Dissemination System: Data, Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness—Macroeconomic and Financial Sectors and Sociodemographic Data
2 See Central Government Operations for component details.
3 Accrual including all noncash basis, such as modified cash and modified accrual basis.
4 The measures of broad and narrow money vary from country to country. M2 is broad money for countries that do not have M3. However, M2 is a narrower measure of money for countries that have M3 or a broader measure of money.
5 Or subsequent editions.
6 As a first step towards the full Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity.
7 See table 2 of the Annex Scope and Operational Characteristics of the Special Data Dissemination Standard, as amended, in Article VIII, Section 5 of the IMF Articles of Agreement (http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/sd/index.asp?decision=EBM/96/36).
(A) Definitions and general considerations
The GDDS focuses on the data that are most important in evaluating performance and policy in four macroeconomic sectors—real, fiscal, financial, and external—as well as complementary socio-demographic data that shed light on economic development and structural change. The socio-demographic data specified under the GDDS are closely aligned with the majority of the indicators used to monitor progress towards the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).2 The GDDS also covers most of the indicators used to monitor progress on national poverty reduction strategies. Table 1 shows the GDDS recommended data categories, including comprehensive statistical frameworks, tracking categories, and other relevant data, as appropriate, as well as highlighting the main GDDS components and encouraged extensions.
(ii) Periodicity and timeliness
The GDDS recognizes the importance of production and dissemination of data that are of appropriately high periodicity and timeliness. Periodicity refers to the frequency of compilation of the data (that is the relevant period covered by a data observation, i.e., annual, quarterly, monthly, weekly, daily, etc.). The periodicity of a particular data category reflects several factors, including the ease of data collection and compilation, and the needs of analysis. The GDDS should be viewed as encouraging improvements over time in periodicity of data dissemination (that is higher frequency) that are consistent with improvements in data quality. Timeliness refers to the speed of dissemination of the data—i.e., the lapse of time between a reference date (or close of a reference period) and dissemination of the data. It reflects many factors, including institutional arrangements, such as the preparation of accompanying commentary. Dissemination of statistics takes several forms, including:
• formal publications, such as news releases (perhaps presenting only summary statistics), periodicals such as monthly bulletins, or one-time volumes;
• announcement of availability of statistics on request (but not necessarily without charge), including through electronic databases;
• internet, diskettes, tapes, or CD-ROM of a formal publication or a database;
• recorded brief telephone messages, e-mail and fax services, especially in the case of data categories justifying high-frequency distribution.
The objectives for timeliness that are presented in Table 1 are set out in terms of ranges of time in recognition of the diversity of relevant country practices and circumstances. The short end of the timeliness range corresponds to the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) timeliness requirements for a given indicator while the high end of the range relates to good practice across a broad group of countries. The GDDS should be viewed as encouraging improvements over time in the timeliness of data dissemination that are consistent with improvements in data quality.
The GDDS objectives for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness are summarized in Table 1. Recommended features of the GDDS are listed under the “Components” column. However, some data categories or components are designated “as relevant.” This designation recognizes that the relevance of a specific data category or component to an economy should be taken into account in the development of the statistical system. Where the coverage components, periodicity, or timeliness is designated as “encouraged,” countries are encouraged to develop and disseminate such data categories with the indicated periodicity and timeliness, but only after the main recommended components are regularly disseminated. The GDDS recommends the use of internationally accepted statistical methodologies (see http://dsbb.imf.org/Applications/web/getpage/?pagename=inter-nationallyacceptedstatisticalmethodologies) for the compilation and presentation of data. Countries are encouraged to indicate deviations from these internationally accepted statistical methodologies in their metadata.
The comprehensive statistical framework for the real sector is the national accounts, consisting of nominal levels, real (price-adjusted) levels, and associated prices (deflators or price indices). For national accounts, the general objective is to produce and disseminate the full range of national accounts aggregates and balances. Thus, in addition to GDP, the GDDS recommends the development of measures of national and disposable income, consumption, saving, capital formation, and net lending/net borrowing. The GDDS recommends that either GDP by major expenditure category (in current prices and in volume terms) or GDP by production approach (in current prices and in volume terms) be disseminated annually (quarterly encouraged) and within 6–9 months after the end of the reference year.
The data category intended to track GDP on a more frequent basis is a single production index or a selection of production indices. The index or selection of indices that are relevant will depend on a country’s economic structure—manufacturing or industrial production in some countries, and primary commodity production (e.g., petroleum or rice) and/or agriculture production in other countries. To provide a guide to developments in GDP, a monthly measure is recommended for manufacturing or industrial production.
Labor market data are critically important statistics in industrial countries, but may be less meaningful in others, such as those with large informal or subsistence sectors. The “as relevant” notation recognizes that the coverage of the specified employment, unemployment, and wages/earnings components may, of necessity, be less than the total economy and that such concepts may not be meaningful. The annual periodicity and 6–9 months timeliness are recommended in consultation with the Bureau of Statistics of the International Labor Office. Disaggregation by age, sex, occupation, and industry are relevant to two MDG indicators namely the share of women in nonagricultural wage employment (MDG Indicator No. 11) and the unemployment rate among youths (MDG Indicator No. 45).
For price statistics, consumer price indices are recommended and producer price indices are encouraged. They are widely used in their own right; in addition, their underlying detail is needed for price-adjusted national accounts. Monthly periodicity is recommended with timeliness of 1–2 months after the end of the reference period.
For the fiscal sector, the comprehensive statistical framework is the central government operations. The GDDS recommends complete coverage of all central government units. The actual coverage of units of central government should be broad enough to closely reflect the country’s fiscal stance. For some countries, this may be limited to budgetary accounts, but for many countries, social security funds, extrabudgetary accounts, and decentralized agencies would need to be included. The production and dissemination of interest payments data is encouraged, particularly in heavily indebted countries. The GDDS recommends development of an appropriate analytical framework and classification schemes, but does not prescribe a particular framework or set of classification tables. The GDDS recommends that data on the operations of central government be disseminated quarterly (monthly encouraged) within 1 quarter (1 month encouraged). The GDDS also encourages the development of data on general government operations or public sector operations, as appropriate. When these data are of particular policy and analytical significance—for example, when the public sector borrowing requirement is a focus of policy—their development may be accorded a high priority.
The recommended data coverage for debt is the total debt of central government. Debt data should be classified as domestic and foreign, on an “as relevant” basis. Breakdowns may be provided, as relevant, by maturity (short- versus medium- and long-term, preferably by remaining maturity but on an original maturity basis if the former is not available), by currency, by sector of the creditor, and/or by debt instrument. Quarterly periodicity and timeliness of 1–2 quarters are recommended for central government debt. The dissemination of information on government guaranteed debt is encouraged.
The depository corporations survey (DCS) is the comprehensive framework for the financial sector. The coverage of this framework includes all depository corporations (banking institutions) that have liabilities included in broad money aggregates. The GDDS recommends an analytical framework that is based on a measure of broad money and factors that affect changes in money, especially domestic credit and external assets and liabilities. Narrower monetary aggregates (such as M1 and M23) are encouraged. In recognition of existing good practice across a broad range of countries, the GDDS recommends monthly data to be disseminated within 1–3 months of the end of the reference month.
The data category recommended to track DCS data on a more timely basis is the central bank survey. With regard to data for the central bank, the component specified is the monetary base. Monthly dissemination within one to two months is recommended.
Interest rates should include short- and long-term government securities rates as appropriate to the country (e.g., three-month Treasury bill rate and ten-year government bond rate) and a policy-oriented rate, such as the central bank lending rate. Dissemination of money market or interbank rates and a range of deposit and lending rates is encouraged. The GDDS recommends monthly data observations. Where rates are administratively determined, changes in rates should be disseminated as soon as possible after rate changes.
In countries where a stock market exists, the GDDS encourages the dissemination of share price indices.
For the external sector, balance of payments and international investment position (IIP) are the comprehensive frameworks. The general objective is the production and dissemination of complete balance of payments and IIP accounts. The GDDS recommends that disseminated data on the balance of payments identify the following components: current (imports and exports of goods and services, net income and net transfer transactions), capital, and financial (direct investment, portfolio investment, other investment, and reserves) account transactions; a range of analytical balances, such as the trade balance, current account balance, and the overall balance may also be compiled within this framework. Disaggregation of data according to the standard components of the IMF Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition (BPM5) and separately identifying data on financial derivatives (assets and liabilities) under financial account is encouraged. The GDDS recommends the dissemination of complete balance of payments data annually within 6 months of the end of the reference year. The compilation and dissemination of quarterly data are strongly encouraged.
For IIP, the GDDS recommends to disseminate the following components: direct investment; portfolio investment, including a breakdown into equity and debt; other investment; and (for assets), reserves. Disaggregation of assets and liabilities according to the standard components of the BPM5 and separately identifying data on financial derivatives (assets and liabilities) under the financial account is encouraged. The GDDS recommends the dissemination of IIP data annually within 6–9 months of the end of the reference year.
The GDDS recommends a separate data category for external debt, with the following data components: (1) public and publicly guaranteed external debt, broken down by maturity, (2) the associated debt service schedule, and (3) private external debt not publicly guaranteed. It is recommended that the stock data on public and publicly guaranteed external debt be disseminated with quarterly periodicity and timeliness of 1–2 quarters of the reference date, and the private external debt data be disseminated with annual periodicity and timeliness of 6–9 months. Similarly, public and publicly guaranteed external debt service schedule should be disseminated semi-annually, within 3–6 months of the reference date, and should cover estimates and projections for four quarters and then two subsequent half years.
For example, the debt service schedule with a reference date of end-December 2008 should be disseminated at end-March (but no later than end-June) 2009 and the estimates and projections should cover QI, QII, QIII and QIV for 2009, as well as January–June and July–December 2010. The dissemination of data on external debt service and the exports of goods and services in the balance of payments allows the calculation of the ratio of external debt service to exports of goods and services (MDG Indicator No. 44). The GDDS encourages disseminating instrument breakdown of public and publicly guaranteed external debt, the associated debt service schedule, disaggregated into principal and interest, and a private external debt service schedule.
The dissemination of monthly official reserve assets (total and key components covering foreign currency reserves, IMF reserve position, SDRs, gold, and other reserve assets) within 1–4 weeks is recommended (timeliness of 1 week is encouraged). The dissemination of the data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity (reserves template) is encouraged. Monthly dissemination of reserve-related liabilities is also encouraged as a first step towards the full reserves template.
The dissemination of monthly data on merchandise trade (at least total imports and exports) within 8–12 weeks is recommended. Dissemination of major commodity breakdowns of imports and exports is encouraged, with a slightly longer time lag.
The GDDS recommends that spot exchange rates be disseminated to the public on a daily basis. If these are readily available in the media or through on-line systems, public redissemination by official agencies may be limited to monthly, or preferably weekly, end period and period average rates.
The GDDS provides for the coverage of socio-demographic data that may be useful in monitoring and evaluating long-term economic objectives to complement core macroeconomic data categories. The information is of great importance to the operation of governments, to the activities of non-governmental and international organizations, and to civil society in general. The GDDS includes four categories of socio-demographic data—population, education, health, and poverty. Table 1 also summarizes the main components recommended for compilation and dissemination for each category together with specified periodicity and timeliness. These do not represent the full range of statistics that are relevant for setting or monitoring social policies, nor do they reflect the full range of data gathering activities that official agencies may undertake. The GDDS does not, for example, include categories for housing, criminal justice, scientific and cultural activities, or environmental statistics. Nevertheless, the recommendations for socio-demographic data are subject to future elaboration