GDDS in China
Mr. Zheng Jingping
Department of Comprehensive Statistics
National Bureau of Statistics of China
On April 15th, 2002, The metadata of China statistics was open to the whole world on the official website of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which indicated that China joined formally the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) established by IMF. It could be reasonable that the entry of China¡¯s statistics into GDDS is just as China¡¯s entry into WTO, which actually marks an important milestone for China Statistics to go further towards the world.
a. China¡¯s entry into GDDS is a historical necessity
GDDS is a standard for data production and dissemination set up by IMF for its member countries to promote their transparencies of macroeconomic and statistical data.
As we know, a serious financial crisis happened at the end of 1994 in Mexico which resulted in acute turbulence in the international financial market; In 1997, financial crises happened once more in some southeast Asia countries such as Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Korea, so as to bring on a significant disadvantageous impact on Asia economy even the global economy. Although there exist many reasons for those crises, they are no doubt important ones that macroeconomic and statistical data were not transparent, not released in time, or in bad precision. Therefore, it is believed by IMF that, in the current international economic and financial circumstances, all main macroeconomic policies and their implementations of member countries should be understood completely, in order to conduct its own supervision function. The sound, transparent and correct macroeconomic policies and comprehensive, timely economic and financial data are key guarantees for reducing financial risks. It becomes an important function and task for IMF to encourage member countries to release economic and financial data as well as macroeconomic policies according to the internationally accepted standards.
In April 1995, the Interim Committee of the IMF¡¯s Board of Governors (since renamed The International Monetary and Financial Committee) requested the Fund¡¯s Executive Board, for the purpose of enhancing financial supervision, to focus on the development of standards to guide member countries in the provision of economic and financial data to the public. In October 1995, the Interim Committee endorsed the establishment of a two-tier standard, comprising a special standard to guide countries that had, or might seek, access to international capital markets, and a general standard to guide all member countries. The Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) was established and approved in March 1996, and the participating countries were those industrialized and transition ones. The GDDS was setup formally on December 19, 1997, with mainly the developing countries joined in. The document entitled The General Data Dissemination System, referred to as the ¡°GDDS Document,¡± was first issued in January 1998, and updated respectively in 2000 and 2001. Its latest version was released in November 2003.
The frameworks of two data dissemination standards are almost the same, and both cover the data of real sector, fiscal sector, financial sector, external sector and socio-demographic areas. In respect of data coverage, periodicity and timeliness, some data categories and indicators reflecting the efficiencies of economic policies are selected with recommendations for each sector. In respect of data quality, it¡¯s requested to release the methodology of data production to the public and provide a set of statistical frameworks that support statistical cross-checks. In respect of the integrity of the disseminated data, it¡¯s requested to make available to the public the statistical law, the ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical releases, the provision of information about revisions and the advance notice of major changes in methodology. In respect of the access to data by the public, it¡¯s requested to provide the Advance Release Calendar and release the statistical data at the same time to the public. But there are differences of both in detailed procedures. The SDDS is more strict than the GDDS for the periodicity and timeliness of the disseminated data. The SDDS participating country must disseminate in time its economic and financial data on the IMF¡¯s website, while the GDDS participating country need not to do that, but is requested to improve gradually it¡¯s methodology of data production and dissemination within 3 to 5 years for the purpose of promoting data quality, and also provide the metadata, namely the concepts and coverage of statistical indicators, the data sources, the methodologies of data production, the procedures of data dissemination, the information about revisions and changes, and the short-term and medium-term plans of improvements for the sectors of real, fiscal, financial, external and socio-demographic areas. According to the rules of the GDDS, the metadata of a participating country is showed on the official website of IMF, and should be updated once at least every year.
Considering the more powerful influence of China economy to the world and its demonstration effect as a big developing country, before the year 2002, the IMF expressed many times in some conferences and negotiations the ideas that China would participate in the GDDS. On April 5, 2001, IMF and the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBS) organized jointly a GDDS workshop in Beijing, to introduce the GDDS principles and GDDS extensions in China.
The Chinese government was also considering this issue seriously. In March 2000, the ¡°transparency issues research group¡± was set up, headed by the People¡¯s Bank of China, including the National Development and Reform Commission, the Ministry of Finance, the NBS and so on. One of the group¡¯s focused issues was the transparency of macroeconomic and statistical data, or the feasibility of China¡¯s joining the GDDS and SDDS established by IMF. Through careful studies, it was believed that after more than 20 years of reform and development, the statistical data of real sector, fiscal sector, financial sector, external sector and socio-demographic areas in China had met the needs of the GDDS in respect of the data coverage, periodicity and timeliness, the data quality, the integrity of the disseminated data and the access to data by the public. It was time for China to participate in the GDDS. The significances of participation are as follows: Firstly, it is the demand of China to be adapted to economic globalization. Since China has become a member of WTO, the internationally acceptable standards and regulations should be adopted, in order to develop the socialist market economy and be involved in international collaboration. Secondly, it is beneficial for China to enhance further the open-up to the outside. It helps the world understand China. It makes China to heighten its international status. Thirdly, it is beneficial for China to promote the transparency and comparability of macroeconomic and statistical data. It helps Chinese government be more transparent, practical and highly efficient. Fourthly, it is beneficial for China to know its fundamental information of macro economy, which is critical for economic decision making and avoiding economic and financial risks. Lastly, it is beneficial for China to further the reform of statistical system, to increase the working level and capability of statistics, and to promote the development and progress of statistical task.
So in October 2001, the NBS, jointly with the Ministry of Finance, the People¡¯ Bank of China and the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, submitted a report to the State Council for the ratification of participating in the GDDS. On January 1st, 2002, the president of the People¡¯s Bank of China, on behalf of the Chinese government, mailed to the director-general of IMF that China wanted to be a GDDS participating country. From the end of February to the mid of March 2002, IMF sent a technical support mission to help us complete the metadata of China statistics. The international experts worked very hard and seriously, and the collaboration went effectively and successfully. On April 15, 2002, the English metadata of China statistics was open to the whole world on the official website of IMF, which hereby indicated China¡¯s formal participation in the GDDS.
For the time being a leading group for China GDDS which includes the National Bureau of Statistics, the People¡¯s Bank of China, the Ministry of Finance, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, the Customs General Administration, the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Public Security, is responsible for organization, coordination and implementation of works related with GDDS in China.
b. China statistics has achieved further development since participating GDDS
Since participating the GDDS, China¡¯s statistics has achieved a new development and progress in terms of the further reform of statistical system and the adoption of internationally accepted standards. The statistical services, the reform of statistical methodologies, the legal construction of statistics, and the information technologies of statistics have been enhanced and developed well. All these achievements are related with the helps and supports of the international organizations and countries that have cooperation projects with us. Firstly we would like to express our appreciations to the International Monetary Fund. Under the help and support of IMF the data dissemination of China statistics is more transparent, open and standardized. Secondly our thanks come to the Federal Bureau of Statistics of Germany who provided to us many valuable experiences of participating in the SDDS.
Before joining the GDDS, for the sectors of real, fiscal, financial, external and socio-demographic areas, there existed differences in respect of data production and dissemination, with reference to the GDDS rules. The detailed differences showed everywhere from the data coverage, periodicity and timeliness to the data quality, the integrity of the disseminated data and the access to data by the public. For example, some statistical indicators were not available; the information on data sources was not released sufficiently; the reasons of data changes were not open to the public; there were no Advance Release Calendars, etc.
After joining the GDDS, firstly, the organization and coordination for GDDS have been further reinforced in China. A leading group for China GDDS headed by the NBS was established. The "China GDDS Regulations" was constituted which lays the foundation for implementing GDDS tasks normatively and effectively.
Secondly, we have taken the commitment for China¡¯s entry into GDDS. In terms of the plans for improvement listed in the metadata of China statistics, especially short-term plans, some reforms on statistical data compilation and data dissemination system have been undertaken. Within the past two years, Chinese statistics was improved much in respect of national accounts, value added in industry or agriculture, financial and fiscal statistics, balance of payments and so on, and went up a further step toward the international standards.
In national accounts the reform on compilation and dissemination of annual GDP data has been conducted. In order to reflect objectively the real development of national economy and promote the reliability and transparency of statistical data, with reference to international standards, our annual GDP is compiled by 3 steps i.e., preliminary estimates, initial confirmed estimates and final confirmed estimates. The release date of the preliminary estimates is changed to January 20th the next year which before was released on February and May. Moreover, when economic census is conducted, or when new basic GDP data are found, or when calculating method and classification are changed, the historical GDP data would be revised and disseminated not only for GDP aggregates but also growth rates. When releasing GDP data all other important data related with GDP are also provided to the public, and the methodology of national accounts can be also disseminated if necessary. The monthly GDP data at national or regional levels are not calculated and disseminated any more in principle, except for some specific circumstances. The Advance Release Calendar for one-year dates of data dissemination is open to the public on the website of NBS at the beginning of every year.
A new method is used to calculate the value added of industry and agriculture. Based on the passed two years' experiment the price deflation method is adopted to calculate them starting from the year 2004.
A new industrial classification in national economy has been implemented since 2004.
In terms of financial statistics, the newly revised "Management Regulations for Financial Statistics" began to be implemented formally on December 15, 2002, which standardizes data management and statistical survey, data dissemination, duties of statistical departments, staff assignment, statistical supervision, encouragement and punishment and etc. so as to enhance legal system. The transparency of data dissemination has also been enhanced, and the advance release calendar that covers the date of disseminated data is open to the public on "Financial Times" and PBC's website. In addition, the coverage of financial statistics is enlarged and the foreign currency accounts of domestic banking institutions for residents has already been included.
In terms of fiscal statistics, the budget reform for government agencies has been paid much attention in recent years. A single way budgetary management is conducted, that means extrabudgetary funds and governmental funds will be brought into budgetary operation gradually in order to reflect completely the income and expenditure activities of governments. The extrabudgetary income of central government¡¯s agencies was included into budgetary operation in 2003. The reform on the classification of governmental income and expenditure has been also being studied.
In terms of balance of payments, the international investment position statement for the year 1999-2001 has been tried for compilation. The statistical method of trade credit has been adjusted, and the trade credit assets and debt stock data of China have been also estimated. The bilateral comparisons with some related countries have been strengthened for calculating travel expenditures which were modified. The reporting time limit for foreign income by bank has been shortened from 10 working days to 5 ones. The ¡°Implementation Details of Balance of Payments Reporting Methods¡± was revised and promulgated on February 11, 2003.
According to those developments, the metadata of China statistics was updated at first time in December 2003.
c. The future international collaboration fields in China statistics
Looking back the whole process of China¡¯s joining the GDDS, once more we realize that, actively participating in international statistical activities and conducting international collaborations are an important, non-substitutable way to promote statistical development. With reference to the good experiences of advanced countries, it will be faster, better and get-twice-the-result-with-half-the-effort to reach the development goals. In addition, introducing the internationally accepted standards and practices not only optimizes statistical system, but also is convenient for international comparisons and beneficial for China to heighten its international status.
Looking future, we also have many challenging things to do. The statistical information of China is a significant window displaying Chinese economic development to the world. It is our aims to promote the accuracy, scientificity, timeliness and authoritativeness of statistical data. Compared with the requirements of the GDDS, there still exist some differences in some respects. We need to move forward to promote the transparency of disseminated data, improve statistical methods and increase the quality of statistical data. For example, how the quarterly GDP is done is still under research; in respect of data publication and public services, how to deal with the paid service and the paid-off service; provide to the public not only the accurate and detailed data but also the relating analytical materials, and not only the routine data of economic operations but also all kinds of specific monitoring data, such as the employment of urban and rural residents, the income distribution, the process of urbanization, the regional gaps in development, the poverty reduction, the life of low-income groups, the implementation of social security, the resource use and environment protection, the sustainable development, and the process of well-off, etc. The statistical reform must continue and the function of statistical services to the public will be further reinforced. Although facing a lot of difficulties, I believe that, under the active cooperation and efforts of all related ministries and bureaus, and under the strong support of the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the statistical bureaus of other countries, in China we must be able to improve the statistical system, to enhance the statistical capacities, to meet better the needs of the public for statistics, and to accelerate the development of statistical task.