IMF Executive Board Concludes the Tenth Review of the IMF Data Standards Initiatives

March 16, 2022

  • The IMF Data Standards Initiatives enhance data transparency as a global public good. Countries’ recent achievements in implementing the standards through voluntary publication of timely macroeconomic and financial data have been remarkable, despite the impact of the pandemic, with the framework continuing to serve the membership well.
  • The Tenth Review updates the framework, in light of new data priorities, through a parsimonious and principles-based expansion of encouraged data categories covering selected aspects in the areas of public debt, macro-financial indicators, foreign exchange intervention, climate change-related policy, and gender- disaggregated labor market statistics.
  • The Review also focuses on strengthening the monitoring of the first tier of the Data Standards Initiatives, the enhanced General Data Dissemination System (e-GDDS), and encouraging subscribers of the second tier, the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), to modernize data publication technology.

Washington, DC: : On February 28, 2022, the Executive Board of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) concluded the Tenth Review of the IMF Data Standards Initiatives. The Review is taking place amid challenges related to the pandemic that have strained countries’ resources. Taking due account of resource constraints, the Review calls for parsimoniously expanding the framework toward selected new policy priorities.

The Review reported on the transformational progress since the 2015 Ninth Review which reformed the first tier in the framework, by enhancing the General Data Dissemination System. Since that time, 68 e-GDDS countries started publishing key data for surveillance while 19 SDDS countries advanced to the highest tier, the SDDS Plus, bringing the number of SDDS Plus countries to 27.

To keep the framework attuned to new demands for data for policy analysis and decision-making, including by markets, the Tenth Review encourages countries to publish more granular data on public debt, focusing on creditor breakdown. Other tier-specific proposals cover macro-financial indicators and data on foreign exchange intervention, climate change-related policy, and the gender disaggregation of the labor force.

The Review has benefited from extensive consultation with members, market participants, and international partners. Such outreach and collaboration will continue, including through workshops to facilitate peer learning and knowledge sharing.

Executive Board Assessment [1]

Executive Directors welcomed the opportunity to review the recent experience under the IMF Data Standards Initiatives and to consider proposals for parsimoniously updating the framework through a principles‑based addition of a few, new encouraged data categories, taking careful account of country capacity and the constraints imposed by the pandemic.

Directors underscored the important role that the Data Standards Initiatives have played since the mid‑1990s in promoting data transparency as a global public good by encouraging countries to voluntarily publish key macroeconomic and financial data. They pointed to the heightened importance of disciplined data publication to inform the public, markets, and the international community in a timely manner, thereby facilitating early resolution of macroeconomic imbalances and market disequilibria, and agreed that the framework has served the membership well.

Directors emphasized that with nearly universal voluntary participation by Fund members, the Data Standards Initiatives continue to exemplify strong and fruitful multilateral action. They commended the transformational progress since the Ninth Review in 2015 and remarkable achievements by Fund members in implementing the standards.

Directors welcomed the impetus to data transparency imparted by the enhancements of the General Data Dissemination System (e‑GDDS) introduced in the Ninth Review, which have led to publication of key data by about 70 countries. This expansion has been supported by demand‑driven capacity development, which has remained focused on fragile and conflict‑affected states, small states, and low‑income countries. Directors also stressed the role that strong country ownership has played in the progress thus far.

Directors supported the proposed enhancements to Fund engagement with the e‑GDDS countries, including through informal annual consultations and biennial metadata certification. They stressed the importance of addressing key data gaps hindering advancement toward the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS).

Directors acknowledged the significant progress made by a number of SDDS countries to adhere to the highest standard in data dissemination, the SDDS Plus, and encouraged more countries to make the transition. They supported the proposal to encourage SDDS subscribers to modernize the publication technology underpinning the National Summary Data Page by adopting SDMX technology. This would facilitate the eventual establishment of a network of official websites—using a common technology—to publish data under the three tiers of the Initiatives, as envisaged in the 2018 Overarching Strategy on Data and Statistics at the Fund in the Digital Age.

Directors agreed that the framework has worked well during the pandemic, with differential impact for the three country groups, reflecting preexisting differences in infrastructure and organization. They appreciated that the impact of the pandemic on data publication was contained, recognizing that the resilience of the framework to the pandemic shock demonstrated strong country ownership and the Fund’s early intervention to help many countries ensure business continuity.

While a practical and flexible approach to help address publication delays during the pandemic had worked well, Directors agreed to introduce a “force majeure” clause in the SDDS and SDDS Plus frameworks. The modification would permit suspension of the activation of nonobservance procedures when deviations from requirements arise from unforeseen circumstances beyond the authorities’ control, such as severe natural disasters or a pandemic. Any suspension of nonobservance procedures should be carefully evaluated.

Directors supported the parsimonious and principles‑based proposal for encouraging publication of new data categories broadly in line with new data needs for surveillance and policymaking at the national and global levels. They agreed to adding the proposed encouraged data categories under each of the Initiatives to fit the needs of each of the groups, taking careful account of capacity. At the same time, some Directors encouraged staff to be ambitious in the next review by closely considering whether to transition the new encouraged data categories to be required.

Directors agreed that the new encouraged data categories covering aspects related to public debt, macro‑financial analysis, foreign exchange intervention, climate change, and gender were broadly appropriate. Some Directors noted the potential market sensitivities in publishing foreign exchange intervention and called for extra caution and flexibility in terms of timeliness and granularity of the data being requested, and before changing it from encouraged to required. On the other hand, a few Directors thought that the proposed data on foreign exchange intervention and debt should have been required for SDDS Plus countries and encouraged for SDDS countries, for the credibility of the initiative and in line with best practices in transparency. Some Directors also suggested exploring in future reviews the addition of other climate indicators subject to the evolution of policy on mitigation and adaptation.

Directors emphasized the importance of continued outreach to members, including provision of tailored capacity development assistance to address challenges and constraints, particularly in e‑GDDS subscribers. Adequate transition periods and flexibility will also be important. Directors also stressed the need for continued collaboration with other international organizations.

Directors agreed that the next review of the Fund’s Data Standards Initiatives should take place in about five years broadly in line with the Review of Data Provision to the Fund for Surveillance Purposes or earlier if appropriate. Some Directors, however, urged staff to complete the next review in 2025 in line with the original five‑year schedule.



[1] At the conclusion of the discussion, the Managing Director, as Chairman of the Board, summarizes the views of Executive Directors, and this summary is transmitted to the country's authorities. An explanation of any qualifiers used in summings up can be found here: http://0-www-imf-org.library.svsu.edu/external/np/sec/misc/qualifiers.htm.

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