Press Release: IMF Executive Board Concludes Ninth Review of Data Standards Initiatives

May 15, 2015

Press Release No. 15/223
May 15, 2015

On May 1, 2015, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) discussed the Ninth Review of the IMF’s Data Standards Initiatives, which followed discussions of the Eighth Review in February 2012 and the preceding Interim Report in February 2011.

The Data Standards Initiatives were launched after the financial crisis of 1994/95 on realization that data deficiencies and lack of transparency can contribute to market turmoil. Over time, the initiatives have proved valuable to the international community as demonstrated by near universal acceptance by IMF members; the willingness of many to commit—voluntarily—to observe high standards of data dissemination; and the recent establishment of the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) Plus in 2012. By end-April 2015, there were 112 participants in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), 64 subscribers of the SDDS, and eight adherents to the SDDS Plus.

The Ninth Review highlighted the contrast between the progress of countries with more advanced dissemination practices, SDDS and SDDS Plus, and the slower pace of progress under the GDDS.

Executive Board Assessment

Executive Directors welcomed the opportunity to review the experience under the

IMF’s Data Standards Initiatives and to consider the proposal for enhancing the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS). They agreed that the review was timely, given the importance of addressing data gaps and disseminating internationally-comparable data to support surveillance and forestall financial crises. Directors expressed broad satisfaction with developments and progress since the Eighth Review of the IMF’s Data Standards Initiatives in 2012.

Directors shared the view that the near universal participation in the IMF’s data initiatives confirms the high value placed by member countries on data standards. They also noted that the success of the data dissemination initiatives depends critically on a strong political commitment of country authorities as well as adequate human, financial, and technical resources. In this regard, some Directors highlighted the importance of further IMF efforts to promote the benefits of readily available and comparable statistical information.

Directors concurred that the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) established in 1996 has by now matured and fewer IMF resources are required to monitor observance. Directors underscored the need for subscribers to continue—in collaboration with IMF staff—to implement the changes called for in earlier reviews, in particular to step up dissemination of the encouraged data categories.

Directors welcomed the recent launch of the SDDS Plus—the third and highest tier of the data standards—with an initial cluster of 8 adherents. A number of Directors supported more flexibility in the terms for compliance with all the data requirements, including by lengthening the transition or changing it to a rolling 5-year period. With implementation still at an early stage, however, Directors did not envisage further changes to the SDDS Plus at this time. They agreed that the highest priority is to promote adherence by economies with systemically-important financial sectors.

Directors noted that only a few GDDS countries have graduated to the SDDS and underscored the need to foster this transition. At the same time, many Directors agreed that capacity constraints—rather than lack of incentives—prevent progress of small and low-income members toward SDDS subscription and called for adequate and well-coordinated donor funding. These Directors underscored the need to avoid stigmatizing countries that do not plan to move to SDDS in the immediate future owing to lack of capacity.

Directors broadly endorsed staff’s proposal to enhance the GDDS framework (e-GDDS) to assist countries with relatively weak statistical capacity. They agreed that the emphasis on data dissemination in the e-GDDS will support transparency, encourage statistical development, and help create strong synergies between data dissemination and surveillance. However, a few Directors cautioned that a compulsory switch to e-GDDS could push some members to leave the system altogether. A number of other Directors emphasized the importance of preserving the voluntary nature of data dissemination under the e-GDDS and the confidentiality of market-sensitive information.

Directors considered the resource implications of the different proposals for country authorities and the IMF. They were reassured that the proposals take into account recent efforts to streamline surveillance through alignment with existing requirements and welcomed plans to collaborate with regional development banks in the implementation of the e-GDDS. A number of Directors, however, were concerned that the more advanced data initiatives may undermine the provision of technical and financial assistance to low-capacity e-GDDS participants. More specifically, a number of Directors raised concerns about the availability of IMF resources to provide the technical support needed to achieve meaningful progress toward SDDS.

Directors broadly agreed that the next review of the IMF’s data standards initiatives should take place in about 5 years. Many Directors expressed preference for an earlier engagement of the Board, particularly if progress among e-GDDS participants continues to stall or modifications of current data standards become warranted.


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