August 16, 2000
ObservanceOn the basis of metadata provided by national authorities and reviewed by the IMF staff, 29 of the 47 subscribers now meet the SDDS specifications for the coverage, periodicity and timeliness of the data and for the dissemination of advance release calendars (ARC), compared with 13 subscribers at the end of the first quarter (see details in Table 1). A complete list of subscribers indicating those in observance may be accessed on the Fund's Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) at http://dsbb.imf.org/Applications/web/sddscountrylist/. The staff began monitoring observance of the data dimension and of the ARCs on a pilot basis in May. Regular monitoring of the SDDS for all subscribers began on July 1. The absence of hyperlinks to National Summary Data Pages (NSDPs) for some subscribers has made monitoring more difficult and time-consuming than had been originally envisaged. In the list of subscribers at http://dsbb.imf.org/Applications/web/sddscountrylist/, subscribers shown in italics have NSDPs to which the DSBB is hyperlinked.
National Summary Data Pages and HyperlinksThirty subscribers have hyperlinks from the DSBB to their NSDPs compared with 19 at the end of the first quarter 2000. A number of previously-hyperlinked NSDPs also were enhanced, to ensure that the websites become an effective tool for monitoring SDDS observance (see Table 1 above).
During the second quarter an additional 113 summary methodology statements were posted on the DSBB, bringing the total number to 280 for 41 SDDS subscribers. These statements provide detailed information on the sources and methods used to compile the SDDS data categories and are a popular feature of the DSBB (see below). A complete listing of the countries and data categories for which summary methodology statements have been posted can be accessed at http://dsbb.imf.org/summeth.htm, and /or http://dsbb.imf.org/sumdata.html.
DSBB Usage And Enhancements
Usage of the DSBB surged in the second quarter 2000 in response to improvements to the site, including a large increase in the number of summary methodology statements (SMs) posted, as well as heightened public interest during the Spring Meetings. Average monthly hits in the second quarter exceeded 0.6 million, representing a three-fold increase over the previous quarter. The total number of hits for the period April-June 2000 exceeded 1.8 million; this represents a four-fold increase over the corresponding period in 1999 (see Fig. 1). Over this period, the number of hits on SMs accounted for about a fifth of total hits in March 2000, increasing to about a fourth of total hits at the end of June 2000.
The DSBB was restructured on May 22, 2000 into three separate segments: the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), and the Data Quality Reference Site (DQRS). This restructuring meets the need for both a more prominent GDDS presence on the site, to coincide with the beginning of its operational phase (Phase II), and an increased emphasis on data quality issues in the context of the Fund's data standards initiatives.
In addition, the "Week Ahead" feature was introduced on the DSBB in March 2000 and announced on the Fund's Internet website by a News Brief (00/31, May 23). "The Week Ahead" provides users with advance notice on the release dates of key economic data by SDDS subscribers. The country-specific calendar is updated daily around midnight Washington time (0400 GMT) for the seven-day period ahead (and the previous day). For the 30 subscribers with hyperlinks there are also links from the Week Ahead calendar to their NSDPs.
Reserves template and External debt data categoryAt the March 23, 1999 meeting of the Executive Board on the Second Review of the SDDS--Further Considerations, Directors approved the incorporation of the data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity into the SDDS as a prescribed component. Directors established a transition period for compliance with the template to run through the end of March 2000. Subscribers were to begin disseminating template data on a monthly basis, with a lag of no more than one month, by the end of May 2000. As of July 12, 42 of 47 SDDS subscribers have begun disseminating template data. All of these subscribers have chosen the Internet as the medium of dissemination and their websites are accessible at http://dsbb.imf.org/Applications/web/reservestemplate/.
A preliminary review of the template data on the Internet suggests that most subscribers have provided comprehensive data covering both the monetary authorities and the central government. Detailed supplementary information also appears in most subscribers templates. The subscribers disseminate their template data at least once a month, with a lag of no more than one month.
At the Third Review of the Fund's Data Standard Initiatives, the Executive Board specified the requirements for a new external debt data category in both the SDDS and the GDDS, with a transition period until March 31, 2003 for meeting the SDDS requirements. The Fund-chaired Inter-agency Task Force on Finance Statistics is preparing External Debt Statistics: Guide for Compilers and Users. The Guide will provide international methodological standards for the measurement of external debt, along with guidance on the analytical use of debt data and on the sources and methods for the compilation of such data, in order to help compilers develop data to meet the SDDS requirements.
A March 21-24, 2000 seminar on external debt statistics, which was organized by the Statistics Department at the IMF-Singapore Regional Training Institute for countries in the Asian region, introduced the draft Guide to national compilers. Work on several new sections of the Guide continues and another one-week seminar is being organized for end-August at the Joint Vienna Institute for compilers in the region.
1 The report covers developments through July 12, 2000.