Selected Decisions and Selected Documents of the IMF, Thirty- Sixth Issue -- Summing Up by the Acting Chairman General Data Dissemination System

Prepared by the Legal Department of the IMF
As updated as of December 31, 2011

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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) integ-rity 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.

Box 1. The Four Dimensions of the GDDS

1. Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness of Data: Dissemination of reliable, comprehensive, and timely economic, financial, and socio-demographic data is essential to the transparency of macroeconomic performance and policy. The GDDS therefore recommends dissemination of data as described in Table 1.

2. Access by the Public: Dissemination of official statistics is an essential feature of statistics as a public good. Ready and equal access by the public are principal requirements. The GDDS recommends:

    • Dissemination of advance release calendars.

    • Simultaneous release to all interested parties.

    • Dissemination of data through a National Summary Data Page via the Internet.

3. Integrity: To fulfill the purpose of providing the public with information, official statistics must have the confidence of their users. In turn, confidence in the statistics ultimately becomes a matter of confidence in the objectivity and professionalism of the agency producing the statistics. Transparency of practices and procedures is a key factor in creating this confidence. The GDDS therefore recommends:

    • Dissemination of the terms and conditions under which official statistics are produced, including those relating to the confidentiality of individually identifiable information.

    • Identification of internal government access to data before release.

    • Identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical releases.

    • Provision of information about revisions and advance notice of major changes in methodology.

4. Quality: Data quality must have a high priority. Data users should be provided with information to assess quality and quality improvements. The GDDS recommends:

    • Dissemination of documentation on methodology and sources used in preparing statistics.

    • Dissemination of component detail, reconciliations with related data, and statistical frameworks that support statistical cross-checks and provide assurance of reasonableness.

    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.

    (A) Definitions and general considerations

    (i) Coverage

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.

Table 1. The General Data Dissemination System:

Data, Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness—

Macroeconomic and Financial Sectors and

Sociodemographic Data

Data Categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Periodicity

Timeliness

Real Sector

National accounts

(GDP) *1

• GDP in current prices and GDP volume by production approach, with

disaggregated components; or

• GDP in current prices and GDP volume by expenditure category, with disaggregated components.

Gross national income, capital

formation, saving.

Annual (quarterly

encouraged)

6–9 months

Production index/

indices **1

Manufacturing or industrial, primary

commodity, or sector coverage as relevant

 

Monthly (as

relevant)

6–12 weeks

Labor market

Employment, unemployment, wages/earnings, as relevant

Disaggregation by age, sex,

employment status, occupation and industry as appropriate.

Annual

6–9 months

Price indices

Consumer price index

Producer price index

Monthly

1–2 months

Fiscal Sector

General

government

operations

 

General government or public sector operations data,2 where subnational levels of government or public enterprise operation are of analytical or policy importance.

Annual

6–9 months

Fiscal Sector

Central

government

operations*1

For participants using the GFSM 1986 framework:

• revenue;

• expenditure;

• balance (deficit/surplus);

• aggregate financing, disaggregated by:

o domestic financing (bank, nonbank);

o foreign financing;

If disaggregation by domestic (bank, nonbank) and foreign financing is not

feasible, disaggregated by:

o maturity, and either

o instrument, or

o currency of issue

Interest payments, indicated separately as a component of

expenditure.

Quarterly

(monthly

encouraged)

1 quarter

(1 month encouraged)

For participants using the GFSM 2001framework (see Tables 4.2 and 4.1 of the

GFSM 2001):

• Statement of sources and uses of cash (for cash-based data);

o cash receipts from operating activities;

o cash payments for operating activities;

o net cash inflow from operating activities;

o net cash outflow from investments in nonfinancial assets;

o cash surplus (+) /

deficit (-);

o net acquisition of financial assets, excluding cash;

o net incurrence of liabilities;

o net cash inflow, financing activities;

o net change in stock of cash;

o statistical discrepancy;

o total cash expenditure

(memorandum item); or

Fiscal Sector

 

• Statement of government operations (for accrual-based data3)

o revenue;

of which taxes;

o expense;

o gross operating balance;

o net operating balance;

o net acquisition of nonfinancial assets;

o net lending (+) / borrowing (-)

o net acquisition of financial assets:

(1) domestic;

(2) foreign;

o net incurrence of liabilities:

(1) domestic;

(2) foreign;

o statistical discrepancy

o total expenditure (memorandum item)

     

Central

government debt

Domestic and foreign debt, as relevant, with appropriate breakdowns (maturity, currency, sector of creditor, instrument), as relevant.

Government guaranteed debt

Quarterly

1–2 quarters

Financial Sector

Depository

corporations

survey *1

• Broad money (for example, M34)

• Domestic claims:

(1a) net claims on government; or

(1b) claims on nonfinancial public sector (if public sector operations represent the comprehensive framework for the fiscal

sector); and

(2) claims on other resident sectors; and

• Net foreign assets.

Narrower (lower-ordered)

monetary aggregates (such as M1

and M24).

Monthly

Monthly 1–3 months

Financial Sector

Central bank

survey**1

Monetary base

 

Monthly

1–2 months

Interest rates

Short and long-term government security rates, policy-oriented rate

Money market or interbank rates and a range of deposit and lending rates

Monthly

 

Stock market

 

Share price index, as relevant

Monthly

 

External Sector

Balance of

payments *

.

• Current account:

(1) Goods;

(2) Services;

(3) Income;

(4) Current transfers

• Capital account

• Financial account:

(1) direct investment;

(2) portfolio investment,;

(3) other investment; and

(4) reserve assets

• Net errors and omissions

• Disaggregation according to the standard components of

the IMF Balance of Payments Manual fifth edition5

• Under financial account, separately report data on

financial derivatives; assets and liabilities

Annual

(quarterly

strongly

encouraged)

6 months

External debt and debt service

schedule **1

Public and publicly guaranteed external debt, broken down by maturity

Public and publicly guaranteed external debt by instrument breakdown

Quarterly

1–2 quarters

 

Public and publicly guaranteed external debt service schedule

Public and publicly guaranteed external debt service schedule disaggregated by:

• principal;

• interest

Semi-annual:

schedule

covering the next 4 quarters

and then 2

subsequent

semesters

3–6 months

External Sector

 

Private external debt not publicly guaranteed

Private external debt service schedule.

Annual

6–9 months

Official reserve

assets **

Gross official reserve assets

Reserve-related liabilities6

Monthly

1–4 weeks (1 Week encouraged)

Merchandise trade

**

Total exports and total imports

Major commodity breakdowns with longer time lapse

Monthly

8–12 weeks

International

investment

position (IIP) *

Assets and liabilities, disaggregated by:

• direct investment;

• portfolio investment: disaggregated by equity securities and debt securities;

• other investment; and

• reserve assets (included only in assets)

• Disaggregation of assets and liabilities according to the standard components of the IMF

Balance of Payments Manual fifth edition5

• Under financial account,

separately report data on

financial derivatives; assets and liabilities

Annual

6–9 months

Exchange rates

Spot rates

 

Daily

 

Socio-demographic Data

Data categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Related indicators of Millennium Development Goals8

Periodicity

Timeliness

Population

Population characteristics:

size and composition of the

population, derived from

census, surveys, or vital

registration system

Disaggregation of population and vital

statistics data by age, sex, and region, as appropriate

 

Annual (Census every ten years)

3–6 months for annual updates; 9–12 months for Census

Dynamics of growth: vital

statistics: births, deaths, and

migration

Reporting of mortality rates, crude birth rate,

fertility rate, and life expectancy

- Under-five

mortality rate

- Infant mortality rate

- Adolescent birth rate

Education

Inputs: measures of current financial, human, and physical resources available to public and private (if significant) educational institutions, recorded by level of education or type of program

Disaggregation of data by region is recommended for all data categories. Characteristics of teaching staff, including training, experience, and terms of employment (full or part time). Expenditures by households on education (including fees and other expenses for public or private education)

 

Annual

6–12 months following beginning of school year

Data categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Related indicators of Millennium Development Goals8

Periodicity

Timeliness

 

Process: measures of student progress through school, such as enrollments, dropouts, and repetitions, recorded by level of education and sex of students

Calculation of net enrollment rates (by grade and sex)

- Net enrolment ratio in primary education

- Proportion of pupils starting grade 1 who reach grade 5

- Ratio of girls to boys in primary, secondary, and tertiary education

   

Outcomes: educational attainment measured by progress through school, graduations, and completions by level; literacy

Disaggregation by age and sex. Graduation and completion rates. Scores on standardized achievement exams

- Literacy rate of 15–24-year olds

- Ratio of school attendance of orphans to school attendance of nonorphans ages 10-14 years

Data categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Related indicators of Millennium Development Goals8

Periodicity

Timeliness

Health

Inputs: measures of current financial, human, and physical resources available to public and private (if available) health system, including public expenditures on health services; capacity of health care facilities by location and type of facility, and the number of trained personnel by location and certification

Private (household) expenditures on health services. Disaggregation of data by region

 

Annual (out-breaks of contagious diseases should be reported at higher frequency and with greater timeli-ness)

3–6 months following end of reference period

 

Process (service delivery): Measures describing the number of clients served and type of care provided by public and private care providers, including inpatient, outpatient, and preventative care; population served by public health services such as immunizations, sanitation services, and improved water supply

Measures of the responsiveness of the health system to non-health aspects of service delivery. Disaggregation of data by region.

- Proportion of 1-year old children immunized against measles

- Proportion of births attended by skilled health personnel

- Antenatal care coverare (at least one visit)

- Condom use (at last high-risk sex)

   

Data categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Related indicators of Millennium Development Goals8

Periodicity

Timeliness

     

- Proportion of population ages 15–24 years with

comprehensive knowledge of HIV/AIDS

- Proportion of children

under age 5 sleeping under insecticide-treated

bednet

- Proportion of children

under age five who are

treated with appropriate

anti-malarial drugs

- Proportion of tubercul-osis cases detected and cured under directly observed treatment short course

- Proportion of population

with avanced HIV infection with access to antiretroviral drugs

   

Data categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Related indicators of Millennium Development Goals8

Periodicity

Timeliness

     

- Proportion of population using an improved water source, urban and rural

- Proportion of population using an improved sanitation facility

   
 

Outcomes: statistics on mortality and morbidity, including mortality by cause and the incidence of disease by age, sex, region and other patient characteristics

 

- Maternal mortality ratio

- Contraceptive prevalence Rate

- Unmet need for family

planning

- Prevalence of underweight children under 5 years of age

- HIV prevalence among

population 15–24-years

-Prevalence and death

rates associated with

malaria

   

Data categories

Components

Encouraged extension(s)

Related indicators of Millennium Development Goals8

Periodicity

Timeliness

     

- Incidence, prevalence

and death rates associated with tuberculosis

   

Poverty

Income poverty: number and proportion of people or households with less than minimum standard of income or consumption; valuation of minimum consumption bundle

Measures of the distribution of household or per capita income or consumption, and incidence of low consumption

- Proportion of population below $1 (PPP) per day

- Poverty gap ratio (incidence x depth of poverty)

- Share of poorest quintile in national consumption

3–5 years

6–12 months following the survey

Other poverty measures: measures of deprivation or insecurity used to identify the population living in poverty, such as evidence of malnutrition, endemic diseases, educational achievement, and lack of access to basic services

Separate poverty estimates for urban and rural populations or for major regions, states, or provinces. Disaggregation of data by region.

 

1 (*) Denotes comprehensive statistical frameworks; (**) denotes tracking categories.

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).

8 As documented (and numbered) in the Millennium Indicators Database of the United Nations Statistical Division (see http://millenniumindicators.un.org)

(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.

(B) Specifications

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.

Real sector

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.

Fiscal sector

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.

Financial sector

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.

External sector

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.

Socio-demographic data

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 and amendment.

The GDDS makes no specific recommendations concerning which social or demographic indicators should be compiled or reported by participating countries. Countries are encouraged to construct indicators to meet their own national needs based on good statistical practices. The main components for the socio-demographic data that are listed in Table 1 include information on inputs of resources (financial as well as human) into the social area, as it may provide a useful link to public expenditure policies. This feature is particularly appropriate for the GDDS as it is meant to provide a comprehensive framework spanning a broad range of interrelated policy areas, both in the social and economic spheres. As such, the GDDS is particularly appropriate for covering the broad range of indicators used to monitor progress within national poverty reduction strategies. Furthermore, each sociodemographic data category specifies related MDG indicators which could be used to gauge the effectiveness of poverty-reduction policies.

While there are no comprehensive frameworks for socio-demographic data (as there are for macroeconomic and financial statistics), there do exist guidelines for compilation, standard classification systems, and examples of “best practice” that are frequently cited and widely used by statisticians to organize the collection and presentation of social and demographic statistics. Detailed guidance, including references to relevant documents published by international agencies, is provided in the IMF’s Guide to the General Data Dissemination System.

2. Access by the public

Dissemination of official statistics is an essential feature of statistics as a public good. Ready and equal access are principal needs for the public, including market participants. To support ready and equal access, the GDDS recommends:

a. Advance dissemination of release calendars

Advance release calendars (ARC) highlight sound management and transparency of statistical compilation and provide data users with information needed to take a more active and organized approach to acquiring the inputs for their work. The objective may be met, for example, by the dissemination of calendars showing release dates for the current month and for the following three months. Agencies are recommended to make widely known the name and address of an office or a person who could provide the latest information about the ARC, including release of data for which periodicity and timeliness are irregular, and newly disseminated data.

b. Simultaneous release to all interested parties

To recognize that data are valuable commodities and in the interest of equity, the GDDS recommends the release of data to all interested parties at the same time. Release is not intended to refer to access by government agencies, including those other than the producing agency; pre-release access is governed by conditions set out in the description of integrity (see subsection 3.b below). The act of release may consist of providing summary data, to be accompanied perhaps later, by provision of detail. The objective may be met by providing at least one publicly identified and accessible location where data are available to all on an equal basis once they are released.

Therefore, given the ongoing global integration and increased reliance on the Internet and electronic data transmission, the GDDS recommends to release data simultaneously to the public through a National Summary Data Page (NSDP) that is published on the website of one of the statistics compiling agencies (see III.2).

3. Integrity

To fulfill the purpose of providing the public with information, official statistics must have the confidence of their users. In turn, confidence in the statistics ultimately becomes a matter of confidence in objectivity and professionalism of the agency producing the statistics. Transparency of its practices and procedures is a key factor in creating this confidence. To assist users of the data disseminated under the GDDS in assessing their integrity, the GDDS recommends:

a. Dissemination of the terms and conditions under which official statistics are produced, including those relating to the confidentiality of individually identifiable information

This practice, which was embodied in the Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics adopted in 1994 by the United Nations Statistical Commission is indirect, but nevertheless fundamental to fostering confidence in the objectivity and professionalism of official statistics. The terms and conditions under which statistical agencies operate may take various forms, including statistics laws, charters, and codes of conduct. Accordingly, a first step toward this objective would be to put such laws, charters, and codes in place. The terms and conditions incorporated in them may refer to matters such as the relationship of the statistical unit to a larger department or ministry of which it is part (if relevant), the legal authority to collect data, the requirement to publish data it has collected, the terms of reference for the chief statistician/director, and procedures and processes related to confidentiality of individual responses. Dissemination of this information may take a variety of forms, including annual reports of the producer of statistics, abstracts in key publications, and statements of relevant passages referring to confidentiality of survey forms. Statistics producers may find it convenient to use logos and other insignia to remind users of the terms under which statistics carrying the logo are produced. These terms and conditions should be kept up-to-date.

b. Identification of internal government access to data before release

In the interest of transparency about possible undue influence on the data before release, the GDDS calls for listing the persons/positions within the government, but outside the agency producing the data, who have pre-release access. Such identification that is, statements of who knows what—may take a variety of forms, including brief notices to the public and annual reports of the producer of statistics. This practice is addressed mainly to situations in which the data are sensitive for policy or other reasons, and the objective may be met, at a minimum, by following this practice for the most sensitive data categories and indicators.

c. Identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical releases

Ministerial commentary is not necessarily expected to maintain the same degree of objectivity or freedom from political judgment as would be expected of good practice for a producer of official statistics. Therefore, a good practice is to identify such commentary so that its source will be transparent to the public. The identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical release may take several forms including separate statements by the minister (or other policy or political official) or, alternatively, identification of a statistical agency’s material in a release that contains both ministerial commentary and data.

The agency’s material may include data, explanatory text (e.g., of an unusual event affecting the data), and objective analysis; the identification of an agency’s material may be made in various ways, including the use of source lines in tables and of the producer’s logos or other insignia. This practice is addressed mainly to situations in which the data are sensitive for policy or other reasons, and the objective may be met, at a minimum, by following this practice for the most sensitive data categories and indicators.

d. Provision of information about revision and advance notice of major changes in methodology

In the interest of transparency about the data producers’ practices, the GDDS calls for the provision of information about past revisions and about one of the major prospective sources of revision. Relevant information about revisions in data may include statements about the policy followed (e.g., a policy of revising monthly data when an annual, more comprehensive survey becomes available or a policy of no revision) and data about the size of past revisions; both policies and data on revisions may have to be developed before they can be disseminated. Changes in methodology (e.g., changes in base year, major expansions of sample size, introduction of alternative data sources, reclassification of transactions or industries) are to be expected in developing statistical systems. The advance notices may take a variety of forms, including, at a minimum, a short statement in the last presentation of unrevised data or on a stand-alone basis. These statements would identify the kinds of changes to be made and give a source for additional information, such as a paper available on request or the name and address of a person able to explain the upcoming change. Members are encouraged, as well, to provide easy access to information explaining revisions after they are released (e.g., by access to a person able to answer questions about revisions).

4. Quality

Data quality must have a high priority. Data users should be provided with information to assess quality and quality improvements. GDDS participants are encouraged to adopt and implement internationally accepted statistical methodologies for the data categories covered by the GDDS and are encouraged to indicate where statistical practices deviate from these methodologies (a specified list of these methodologies is posted on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB, see Section III.2). Although quality is difficult to judge, monitorable proxies, designed to focus on information the user needs to judge quality, can be useful. To assist users of the data disseminated under the GDDS in assessing their quality, the GDDS recommends:

a. Dissemination of documentation on methodology and sources used in preparing statistics

The availability of documentation on methodology and sources underlying statistics is key to users’ awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of the data. In addition to information on the DSBB (see section III.2), the participant’s documentation may take several forms, including summary notes accompanying release of the data, separate publications, and papers available on request from the producers. Participants are encouraged to prepare and disseminate statements about important features of quality (e.g., the kinds of errors to which the data are subject, sources of noncomparability over time, measures of coverage for census data or sample error for survey data).4

b. Dissemination of component detail, reconciliations with related data, and statistical frameworks that support statistical cross-checks and provide assurance of reasonableness

To support and encourage users’ checks and verification of data, this element provides for dissemination of components underlying aggregate series, dissemination within a statistical framework, and/or dissemination of comparisons and reconciliations with related data. Component detail should be at a level that does not conflict with other desirable characteristics such as the confidentiality of individually identifiable information or statistical reliability. Statistical frameworks include accounting identities and statistical relationships (such as matching stocks with flows). Comparisons and reconciliations include those that cut across frameworks, such as exports and imports as part of the national accounts and as part of the balance of payments.

III. Implementation of the GDDS

1. Participation in the GDDS

Members are encouraged to participate in the GDDS on a voluntary basis. Participants should make best efforts to disseminate the data as set out in Table 1. Participation involves (1) a commitment to use the GDDS as a framework for the development of their national systems for the production and dissemination of macroeconomic, financial, and socio-demographic data, (2) designation of a country coordinator to work with Fund staff, and (3) preparation of descriptions (“metadata”) of (a) current statistical production and dissemination practices and (b) plans for short- and longer-term improvements that would be disseminated by the Fund. Participants are also expected to describe recent improvements that have been implemented. The descriptions of current practices and plans would correspond to each of the objectives for the data, coverage, periodicity and timeliness, access, integrity, and quality dimensions (using the Fund’s Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF))5 The plans would identify the major shortcomings relative to the objectives set out in the GDDS; the steps by which the shortcomings would be addressed; the resources, including technical assistance, necessary to achieve the improvements; and the time frame during which the improvements would be achieved. In particular, the improvements to be undertaken within the next year and within 2 to 5 years would be identified.

Participation will depend upon the completion of the three actions set out above and will be publicly recognized by the Fund when the metadata are posted on the Fund’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB). At any time before the completion of such actions, members may indicate their intent to participate by sending an appropriate communication to the Fund. This communication will provide the basis for work with the member on the actions involved in participation.

A country could opt for participation from the outset, move gradually toward participation, or continue to work with the Fund on the improvement of national systems for the production and dissemination of statistics, as in the past, without participation. Member countries cannot participate in both the GDDS and the SDDS at the same time. Although, participation in the GDDS is not a prerequisite for subscribing to the SDDS, member countries may well find the GDDS framework useful as a stepping stone for subscribing to the SDDS. In this context, GDDS plans for improvement should be oriented towards meeting SDDS requirements, where relevant.

2. Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board

The Fund, as a service to its members, has established and maintains an electronic DSBB on the Internet, a system to store and disseminate the metadata provided by participants. The DSBB identifies the members participating in the GDDS and provides easy access to the members’ respective metadata. The responsibility for the accuracy of the metadata and of the economic, financial, and socio-demographic statistics underlying the metadata rests with the member countries. Although, participants are expected to review and update their metadata on either a “best-effort” or “when-merited” basis, participants are expected to update their plans for improvement on an annual basis.

It is recommended that GDDS participants establish a NSDP on the Internet, which could be linked to the DSBB electronically through “hyperlinks” on the latter. It is recommended that a participant’s NSDP should contain the most recent observation for data categories included in the GDDS that are available as well as the previous observation. Where possible these data categories should be linked through “hyperlinks” to additional information available on other websites. Responsibility for the data on an NSDP rests with the participant. Furthermore, it is recommended that participants disseminate on the Internet an ARC showing the release dates of these data for the current month and for the following three months (see Section II.2.a).

3. Reviews and Withdrawal

Reviews of the GDDS content and implementation procedures will be conducted by the Fund at intervals determined by the Executive Board of the Fund. The views of both producers and users of data will be sought. At the completion of these reviews, revisions of the GDDS framework may be adopted. Reviews of the Fund’s Data Standards’ Initiatives are available on the DSBB (http://www.imf.org/external/np/sta/dsbb/list.htm).

Members may withdraw their participation at any time. They may do so by sending an appropriate communication to the Fund. The relevant metadata would be removed promptly from the DSBB.

1 Ed. Note: Annex V of SM/97/275, Correction 1, incorporates amendments adopted by the Executive Board at various reviews of the GDDS.

2 See United Nations Statistical Division, Millennium Indicators Database.(http://millenniumindicators.un.org)

3 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.

4 The size of past revisions, which is an important aspect of quality, is included under integrity, drawing on its role as an indicator of the transparency of conditions under which data are produced, (see II.3.d).

5 See details on DQAF at http://dsbb.imf.org/Applications/web/dqrs/dqrsdqaf/

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