The data disseminations standards initiative of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) was developed in the mid-1990s, in the wake of thefinancial crises (notably in Asian countries) that highlighted the need for the readily availability available of and reliable economic and financial data:
- The Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) was established in 1996, and aims to guide IMF member countries that have, or that might seek, access to international capital markets, in the provision of their economic and financial data to the public. The SDDS sets minimum standards for subscribers in terms of compilation, frequency and timeliness of dissemination across a range of economic and financial data.
- The General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) was established in 1997 to encourage member countries to improve data quality. Unlike the SDDS, it does not set specific standards but provides a framework for evaluating needs for data improvement and setting priorities, thus guiding participants in the dissemination of comprehensive, timely, accessible, and reliable economic, financial, and socio-demographic statistics. Technical assistance for statistics provided through the IMF and World Bank is in many cases based on priorities identified through GDDS participation.
Both GDDS and SDDS enhance the availability of timely and comprehensive statistics, thus contributing to sound macroeconomic policies. In addition, the SDDS contributes to the improved functioning of financial markets, including the terms available to borrower countries that are subscribers. Recently, the IMF carried out itsthe seventh 7th review of the data standards and approved several measures to re-align the two data standards (SDDS and GDDS), with the view of making graduation to SDDS more straightforward.
Centralised in formation on data standards is located on the IMF's Data Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) which lists subscribers (for SDDS) and participants (GDDS) in the two standardsframeworks, and includes links to national metadata. It also incorporates the Data Quality Reference Site (DQRS) which helps foster a common understanding of data quality through access to relevant articles and other sources of information.
Botswana’s participate in GDDS started in 2001, commencing with the preparation by IMF staff of a Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC). ROSCs, summarised, in a standardised format, the extent to which countries observe international standards across a range of 12 categories, – in this case the preparation and dissemination of statistical data. The ROSC carried out in Botswana assessed statistics covered by GDDS (real sector, prices, government finance, monetary and balance of payments) against benchmarks set out in the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF).
The report noted that statistics were of generally good quality, but that there were shortcomings, in terms of both compilation and, in particular, frequency and timeliness of dissemination. To help address this, Botswana has participated in the Anglophone Africa regional GDDS project, launched in 2001, through which technical assistance is provided jointly by the IMF and World Bank, with funding by the United Kingdom Department For International Development (DFID). Initially intended to last for 3 years, it was subsequently extended through a second phase, due to end in October 2009. A third phase, the Enhanced Data Dissemination Initiative for Africa, commenced in mid-2010.
As part of the second phase, Botswana has participated in the SDDS module, intended for countries that can reasonably aspire to subscribe to SDDS in the near future. The National Summary Data Page, a requirement of SDDS, is published on this website. However, as indicated by the follow-up ROSC assessment undertaken in 2006 , while there have been major improvements, there are still several shortcomings that still need to be addressed before SDDS subscription will be feasible.
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