This report on the Observance of Standards and Codes on Data Module is a summary assessment of Estonia's data practices against the IMF's Special Data Dissemination Standard, complemented by an in-depth assessment of the dimensions of data quality that underlie the national accounts, consumer prices, government finance, monetary, and balance-of-payments statistics. Accuracy and reliability are generally good, but could be improved in a few areas of national accounts and in general government data by strengthening source data and improving statistical techniques.

Abstract

This report on the Observance of Standards and Codes on Data Module is a summary assessment of Estonia's data practices against the IMF's Special Data Dissemination Standard, complemented by an in-depth assessment of the dimensions of data quality that underlie the national accounts, consumer prices, government finance, monetary, and balance-of-payments statistics. Accuracy and reliability are generally good, but could be improved in a few areas of national accounts and in general government data by strengthening source data and improving statistical techniques.

I. Introduction

1. The data module of this Report on Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) covers a summary of Estonia’s practices on the coverage, periodicity and timeliness of the data categories specified in the SDDS, and practices on the provision of advance release calendars for these categories, complemented by an assessment of the quality of national accounts, consumer prices, government finance, monetary, and balance of payments statistics, using the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) methodology. This assessment is based on information provided to the Fund and official information publicly available.

2. Section II includes an overview of the SDDS and an assessment of Estonia’s data dissemination practices against the SDDS. A summary assessment of the quality of the principal macroeconomic statistical datasets is presented in Section III. Section IV summarizes the views of a cross section of users on the usability of Estonia’s statistical data. Section V lists the recommendations made by the Fund staff for improving the quality of these data. Two additional documents were also prepared along with the data module that provide background information for the ROSC. They are the Response by the Authorities and the Detailed Assessments Using the Data Quality Assessment Framework.

II. Data Dissemination Practices and the SDDS

A. Overview of the SDDS

3. The standard against which Estonia’s data dissemination practices are assessed is the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS)2. The SDDS is a “best practice” standard. It covers four sectors of the economy (real, fiscal, financial, and external), as well as population, and identifies four dimensions (data, access, integrity, and quality) of data dissemination for each sector. For each of these dimensions, the SDDS prescribes two to four monitorable elements, or good practices, that can be observed, or monitored, by the users of statistics. (See Box 1.) However, IMF staff monitoring of the SDDS, as authorized by the Fund’s Executive Board, is limited to the dimensions of data (coverage, periodicity and timeliness) and access (advance release calendars). Moreover, it should be emphasized that the SDDS is a disclosure standard, i.e., it aims to encourage the authorities to provide information to users, including information they can use to assess the suitability of the data for purposes that they identify. The SDDS itself does not aim to assess the quality of data for any specific or predetermined use.

Dimensions and Elements of the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS)

Data dimension (coverage, periodicity and timeliness)

  • ■ the dissemination of 18 data categories, including component detail, covering the four main sectors of the economy, with prescribed periodicity and timeliness.

Access dimension

  • ■ the dissemination of advance release calendars (ARCs) providing at least a one-quarter ahead notice of approximate release dates, and at least a one-week ahead notice of the precise release dates; and

  • ■ the simultaneous release of data to all users.

Integrity dimension

  • ■ the dissemination of the terms and conditions under which official statistics are produced and disseminated;

  • ■ the identification of internal government access to data before release;

  • ■ the identification of ministerial commentary on the occasion of statistical release; and

  • ■ the provision of information about revision and advance notice of major changes in methodology.

Quality dimension

  • ■ the dissemination of documentation on statistical methodology and sources used in preparing statistics; and

  • ■ dissemination of component detail and/or additional data series that make possible cross-checks and checks of reasonableness.

Subscribers are required:

  • ■ to post descriptions of their data dissemination practices (metadata) on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB). Summary methodologies, which describe data compilation practices in some detail are also disseminated on the DSBB.

  • ■ to maintain an Internet website, referred to as the National Summary Data Page (NSDP), which contains the actual data described in the metadata, and to which the DSBB is electronically linked.

At the March 29, 2000 meeting of the Executive Board, Directors approved the incorporation of a new SDDS data category on external debt. The transition period for implementing this data category expires in March 2003.

As a result of the Third Review of the SDDS in March 2000, IMF staff began monitoring observance of the Standard through NSDPs maintained on the Internet. Monitoring commenced at the end of June 2000, and is limited to the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of the data and to the dissemination of advance release calendars.

B. Current Dissemination Practices

4. Estonia has subscribed to the SDDS since September 30, 1998 and started posting its metadata in January 1999. Estonia is in observance of the SDDS and meets the specifications for the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of the data dimension for most data categories, with one exception (timeliness of quarterly GDP), for which a flexibility option is being taken. The Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity has been disseminated since April 2000. The national summary data page has also been hyperlinked since April 2000.

5. The three institutions responsible for the compilation and dissemination of the SDDS prescribed data categories are the Statistical Office of Estonia (SOE), Bank of Estonia (BOE) and the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The SOE compiles and disseminates data on the national accounts, production index, the labor market, price indices, merchandise trade and population. The BOE has responsibility for the dissemination of the analytical accounts of the banking sector, the analytical accounts of the central bank, interest rates, share price indices, balance of payments, the international investment position, and the template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity. The MOF is responsible for compiling and disseminating data on the fiscal sector, viz., central and general government operations and data on central government debt.

6. Estonia provides access to these data through a variety of publications and these Internet websites:

The SOE’s website (http://www.stat.ee)

The MOF’s website (http://www.fin.ee)

The BOE’s website (http://www.ee/epbe)

Data dimension: coverage, periodicity, and timeliness

7. The coverage, periodicity, and timeliness for macroeconomic data in Estonia are summarized and compared with SDDS specifications in Table 1. Estonia meets the SDDS specification for the data dimension for most data categories. Periodicity and timeliness exceed the specifications of the SDDS for the international investment position (IIP). Timeliness is exceeded for the analytical accounts of the central bank, merchandise trade, the labor market, the production index, the consumer price index, general government operations, and the reserves template.

Table 1.

Estonia: Overview of Current Practices Regarding Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness of Data Compared to the SDDS

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Periodicity and timeliness; (D) daily; (W) weekly or with a lag of no more than one week from the reference data or the closing of the reference week; (M) monthly or with a lag of no more than one month; (Q) quarterly or with a lag of no more than one quarter, (A) annually; and (…) not applicable.

Refers to current practices in Estonia.

Given that the data are broadly disseminated by private means, the timeliness with which official data are published is not so important. Although dissemination is recommended via recorded telephone messages or by fax, the dissemination of these data may form part of other dissemination mechanisms (preferably, high frequency).

Access dimension

8. Advance release calendars that meet the SDDS requirements are disseminated on the Internet website of the agency responsible for the dissemination of the data. In addition, a comprehensive one year ahead calendar of precise release dates for all SDDS data categories is published by the SOE and linked to the NSDP at (http://www.stat.ee). Data are released simultaneously to all interested parties, generally on the websites of the relevant agencies, and on Estonia’s NSDP. Estonia supplements these institutional and collective calendars with the quarter-ahead presentation of release dates appearing on the IMF’s DSBB (http://dsbb.imf.org). Taken together, Estonia exceeds the requirements of the SDDS in terms of access by the public.

Integrity dimension

9. The terms and conditions under which official statistics are compiled and disseminated in Estonia are available to the public—in electronic and non-electronic formats—in both Estonian and English, and they provide a legal framework that supports the integrity of the statistical system.

10. Procedures on internal access to the data prior to public release are disseminated on the DSBB for the data categories to which they apply. Data compiled by the SOE, the BOE, and the MOF are not provided to government officials outside the respective agency responsible for data compilation before their public release, nor are they accompanied by ministerial commentary. Data are occasionally accompanied by analytical explanations, mostly on technical grounds, when data based on new methodologies are first released.

Quality dimension

11. Summary methodology statements for all data categories except the share price index and international investment position have been provided to the Fund and have been posted on the DSBB. These statements are accessible at http://dsbb.imf.org/summeth.htm. In addition, methodological information is also disseminated by the SOE, the MOF, and the BOE through publications and the Internet. Estonian statistical agencies also disseminate component details and additional data series that make possible cross-checks and checks of reasonableness for all data categories as prescribed by the SDDS.

Monitoring of data and access dimensions

12. In accordance with the outcome of the Third Review, the staff began monitoring subscribers’ performance under the SDDS beginning July 2000.3 Monitoring is carried out against the release dates stated in the advance release calendars and the metadata, i.e., to verify not only that the data are released according to the calendar but also that the data disseminated correspond to the metadata posted on the DSBB. Estonia meets all the elements of the SDDS that are used by the IMF in designating observance. Estonia has been in full compliance of the requirement that subscribers update their national summary data pages on each occasion of release of data covered by the SDDS.

III. Summary Assessment of Data Quality

A. The Framework for Assessing Data Quality

13. Work toward a framework for assessing the quality of data has been under way in the IMF’s Statistics Department for some time. This initiative responds to a number of needs, in particular, to complement the quality dimension of the SDDS, to focus more closely on the quality of the data provided by countries to the IMF that underpin the institution’s surveillance of their economic policies, and to assess systematically the quality of the information provided for the IMF’s Reports on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSCs). Against this background, the Statistics Department of the IMF has developed an assessment methodology that provides a structure and a common language to assess data quality. The Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) that has emerged comprises a generic framework that brings together internationally accepted core principles for official statistics and serves as the overarching structure for dataset-specific frameworks (for national accounts, balance of payments, monetary, government finance, and price statistics) that are organized around selected indicators of quality.

14. The DQAF covers five dimensions of quality and a set of prerequisites for the assessment of data quality. The coverage of these dimensions recognizes that data quality encompasses quality of the institution or system behind the production of the data as well as the quality of the individual data product. Within this framework, each dimension comprises a number of elements, which are in turn associated with a set of desirable practices. The following are the statistical practices that are associated with each dimension.

  • Prerequisites of quality—the environment is supportive of statistics, resources are commensurate with needs of statistical programs; and quality is recognized as a cornerstone of statistical work.

  • Integrity—professionalism in statistical policies and practices is a guiding principle, statistical policies and practices are transparent; and policies and practices are guided by ethical standards.

  • Methodological soundness—concepts and definitions used are in accord with standard statistical frameworks; the scope is in accord with internationally accepted standards; classification and sectorization systems are in accord with internationally accepted standards; and flows and stocks are valued and recorded according to internationally accepted standards.

  • Accuracy and reliability—source data available provide an adequate basis to compile statistics; statistical techniques employed conform with sound statistical procedures; source data are regularly assessed and results validated; and revisions, as a gauge of reliability, are tracked and mined for the information they may provide.

  • Serviceability—statistics cover relevant information on the subject field, timeliness and periodicity follow internationally accepted dissemination standards; statistics are consistent over time, internally, and with major data systems, and data revisions follow a regular and publicized procedure.

  • Accessibility—statistics are presented in a clear and understandable manner, forms of dissemination are adequate, and statistics are made available on an impartial basis; up-to-date and pertinent metadata are made available; and prompt and knowledgeable support service is available.

15. A central feature of this framework is its structure, which focuses on principles of quality that are organized in an orderly progression from the abstract to the more specific. Thus, for each of the five dimensions and the set of prerequisites, a set of elements, indicative of desirable practices, and a group of indicators or pointers to these practices have been developed.

16. The findings from the application of this framework to the Estonian statistical system are presented below. Assessments of five macroeconomic datasets (national accounts, consumer prices, government finance statistics, monetary statistics, and the balance of payments) were conducted using information provided to STA and official information publicly available. The mission’s findings are also presented in the form of standardized summary tables using a four-part scale (see section B).

B. Summary Findings

Prerequisites of quality

17. The Statistical Office of Estonia (SOE), which prepares, inter alia, national accounts and price statistics, has a legal and institutional environment that is adequate to support the collection, production and dissemination of high quality statistics. Available resources are at present adequate but the situation is not robust because of the low wages paid to staff and potential difficulties in retention of experienced staff. Nevertheless, a recent reorganization of the SOE included the closing of a number of regional bureaus and the transfer of certain functions to the head office in Tallinn. This appears to have significantly improved the cost-effectiveness of statistical programs and has also enabled some supplementations of salaries to professional staff, thus assisting in retaining expertise and experience. Professional development of staff has been well supported by external training and workshops provided by various international organizations. Computing facilities are adequate. Specialists and senior management pay close attention to data quality. Further access to taxation data would be of significant benefit for national accounts, and work is in progress to achieve this.

18. In the Bank of Estonia (BOE), the legal and institutional framework is adequate for the collection of balance of payments statistics and monetary statistics from credit institutions. However, the legal and institutional framework for the collection of monetary data from depository corporations that are not credit institutions such as savings and loan associations, financial leasing companies, and money market and mutual funds needs to be strengthened in order to have the source data required to compile the broadest measure of money. At present, the BOE gathers partial information from these institutions on a voluntary basis. The legal framework should improve when the Law of Financial Inspection (approved on 5/9/01) and an amendment to the Law on the Central Bank of the Republic of Estonia (expected to be approved later this year) are fully operational starting in January 2002. Resources are adequate and quality awareness is high.

19. In the Ministry of Finance (MOF), clear policies regarding legal and institutional responsibilities govern the compilation and dissemination of government finance data. However, coordination with other agencies needs to be strengthened, especially regarding the institutional coverage of general government. Staff resources appear insufficient for the compilation and analysis of government finance statistics (GFS). The compilation of GFS is in a vulnerable position as the institutional knowledge required for the compilation of government finance data rests with only one economist, who also has other responsibilities. The MOF does not have a clear policy regarding GFS training, and the costs associated with the compilation and analysis of government finance data are not currently measured.

Integrity

20. Practices are in place at the SOE to ensure professionalism in statistical policies and practices, transparency, and ethical standards. The professional independence of the SOE is recognized in the Official Statistics Act, and the Public Service Act is an important ethical standard for the SOE. Appropriate guidelines have been issued to staff.

21. Professionalism and transparency in statistical policies and practices underpin the compilation of monetary and balance of payments statistics at the BOE. The terms and conditions under which these statistics are disseminated and the practice of internal government access are known to the public. Ethical standards for staff are broadly defined in the legal framework for the BOE through a code of conduct and regulations on data confidentiality.

22. The legal provisions established by the MOF clearly define the professional role and independence of staff. Observance of ethical standards is governed by the Public Service Act and through the MOF’s own regulations regarding professional conduct.

Methodological soundness

23. The overall structure of the national accounts follows internationally endorsed standards and recommendations (the 1993 System of National Accounts and the 1995 European System of Accounts). The delimitation of the economy, the production and assets boundaries, and the classifications used are broadly in accord with internationally recommended systems. Most government-related transactions are recorded on a cash basis instead of accrual basis due to limitations in the source data. However, the SOE plans to move progressively to the adoption of the accrual basis.

24. The consumer price index (CPI) is based on internationally endorsed standards and recommendations and makes use of international classifications. The overall structure of the CPI follows the Eurostat regulation for the Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices.

25. Balance of payments statistics are compiled in conformity with the conceptual framework of the fifth edition of the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5). Transactions are classified and sectorized in accordance with BPM5. However, owing to regulations related to Estonia’s currency board arrangement, loans from the IMF are included in the general government sector. The basis for recording generally follows BPM5. At present, data on drawings and repayments on long-term loans of the private sector are not available, but gross data are available for the external debt of the government. The BOE intends to introduce new survey forms in 2002, which will collect information on drawings and repayments separately for both assets and liabilities.

26. The methodology for compiling government finance statistics follows the 1986 Government Finance Statistics Manual (GFSM). Annual data are compiled on a cash basis and cover most institutions of general government. However, the operations of some institutions are not covered, notably, those of the Privatization Agency, while there is only partial coverage of the Stabilization Reserve Fund (direct payments between general government and the Fund are included), and state-owned and municipal hospitals. Proposals have been made to modify the Budget Law to expand the coverage of general government to include these institutions, and to introduce the classifications for flow data recommended in the new draft GFSM and the ESA95 in the Budget for 2002.

27. Separate monthly data for general government are not compiled. Rather, the cumulative operations at the end of the previous reference month are deducted from the cumulative operations at the end of the reference month. Monthly data for general government do not cover the operations of extrabudgetary funds (mostly nonprofit institutions that are mainly financed or controlled by government). However, final annual data for general government incorporate these operations from annual accounting data of these funds.

28. The BOE uses concepts and principles that are consistent with the IMF’s Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual (MFSM) to compile the data of the central bank and other depository corporations. The scope of Estonia’s monetary statistics is constrained by incomplete coverage of other depository corporations—the broad money or depository corporations survey excludes most savings and loan associations, money market and mutual funds, and financial leasing companies. It is estimated that the balance sheet data of the excluded institutions make up approximately 16% of the whole depository corporations sector’s assets and liabilities, and 5% of the deposits and short-term liquid liabilities of a complete depository corporations survey. Work is in progress to include these institutions, and it is expected that they will be included in the data for other depository corporations during 2002.

29. The principles underlying the classification of financial instruments, sectorization of institutional units, and basis of recording are, in general, broadly consistent with the MFSM. However, at present, two sets of money supply statistics are compiled and published by the BOE, which may confuse data users. One set includes deposits of the central government and of nonresidents, which departs from international guidelines; whereas the other set of monetary aggregates compiled in the depository corporations survey (which is disseminated in International Financial Statistics and on the BOE’s website) is based on international guidelines. In addition, other practices that depart from the MFSM include some short-term securities valued at the lower of acquisition cost or market price, incomplete information on financial derivatives, and the recording of accrued interest. Therefore, some improvements in the monetary statistics should be made concerning the compilation and publication of monetary aggregates; classification and sectorization of financial derivatives; valuation, for monetary statistics purposes, of short-term securities at market (or fair value) prices; and inclusion of accrued interest in the outstanding value of financial instruments.

Accuracy and reliability

30. Source data for national accounts are obtained from a very comprehensive data collection program. Business surveys and household budget surveys, together with appropriate administrative records with comprehensive coverage, provide the main source for compiling national accounts statistics. Source data undergo appropriate validation and consistency checks before they are used. The business survey program has been extensively re-designed, effective January 2001. The concepts and methodology are entirely consistent with international standards and national accounts requirements. However, further work is needed on the editing and estimation systems, and the reliability of the data, under the revised system, will need to be assessed when results are available for three or four quarters. The quality of the household budget survey data has been of some concern in the past but there is evidence of improvements in sample design and methodology generally. There are some national accounts issues still to be addressed including: work in progress; accrual basis; double deflation; and improved measurement of the non-observed economy.

31. The CPI is compiled using sound procedures and methods. The weights and prices are obtained from a comprehensive data collection program. The CPI weights are revised annually. Price data for the CPI are collected on a monthly basis, mainly by personal visit. Approximately 15,000 price quotations are collected each month for more than 500 separate goods and services, from about 1,000 outlets in 10 population centers.

32. The comprehensive collection system based on surveys, supplemented with source data from an open international transactions reporting system (ITRS) has resulted in accurate and reliable balance of payments data, as evidenced by a high rate of survey response (90%) and timely submission of survey forms. Effective scrutiny of individual survey responses and monitoring individual transactions reported in the ITRS contribute to overall accuracy and reliability. All large transactions are assessed and validated. Errors and omissions are monitored at the end of each compilation period and the behavior of time series is cross checked with related indicators. Primary data for trade, direct investment, travel and reserves are occasionally compared to similar data compiled by surrounding countries.

33. Government finance statistics evidence good practice for accuracy and reliability for central government data regarding data sources, statistical techniques, and assessment and validation of data. An exception is the compilation of monthly general government data (see paragraph 27). Further, data on extrabudgetary operations are only available with a long lag, and data from monetary accounts and the balance of payments need to be reconciled with MOF data. However, regarding general government operations, detailed accounts for local government and smaller government agencies may be less accurate owing to inconsistencies in the interpretation of some accounting rules and problems with posting accounts. The compilation of government finance data according to GFSM classifications is not well documented, and data on the operations of extrabudgetary funds are not compiled on a sub-annual basis. No revision studies and analyses to assess the reliability of government finance data are undertaken.

34. Processes are in place that generally assure the accuracy and reliability of monetary statistics. Data are compiled on the basis of final individual monthly report forms, and source data are sufficiently disaggregated in terms of instruments and sectors to permit in-depth analysis. Report forms are revised every 1-2 years to reflect changes in the presentation of accounting records and to respond to the needs of compilers. The source data are subject to internal consistency checks, which contribute to the accuracy and reliability of the data.

Serviceability

35. The national accounts program adequately responds to users’ needs. Periodicity follows generally accepted good practices. Efforts are being made to improve timeliness. The national accounts data are consistent over time and internally. The revision of national accounts follows regular and publicized procedures. Major revisions are explained to users and back series provided. The statistical discrepancy is shown explicitly in published data. Based on annual figures, the discrepancy in recent years has generally been within a very acceptable range of less than 1 % of GDP. Based on quarterly figures, the discrepancy has usually been within an acceptable range. Attention is paid to the internal consistency of the national accounts and relevant aggregates are reconciled with balance of payments data.

36. The CPI adequately responds to users’ needs. Timeliness and periodicity follow accepted good practices, and the indices are consistent over time.

37. Estonia meets SDDS timeliness and periodicity requirements for balance of payments data. Data revisions follow a publicized procedure. Revisions are made, but in individual tables it is not clear which figures have been revised. Data are consistent over time and internally, and are generally consistent with other major data systems, although occasional inconsistencies with fiscal data may arise.

38. Government finance data meet SDDS specifications for timeliness and periodicity. Cross-checks with data in other macroeconomic statistical systems are not regularly performed, and inconsistencies may arise with monetary and balance of payments data. Government finance statistics generally meet users’ needs. However, the annual expenditure classification by function compiled by the MOF is not sufficiently detailed to meet the needs of the SOE for compiling the national accounts. Nevertheless, the SOE has access to the underlying accounts of general government units and prepares a cross-classification of expenditure by function and economic type to resolve this information need.

39. Monetary data meet SDDS specifications for timeliness and periodicity. The BOE reviews developments that have an impact on monetary data, asks for comments on the guidelines developed for the preparation of report forms, and seeks comments on users’ needs and the relevance of the data provided. Monetary data are mostly final when first released. Data are consistent over time and internally, and are generally consistent with other major data systems, although occasional inconsistencies with fiscal data may arise.

Accessibility

40. The dissemination of national accounts, consumer price statistics, balance of payments statistics, government finance statistics, and monetary statistics and the corresponding metadata, and the related service and support are commensurate with users’ needs. The SOE, BOE, and MOF disseminate information through their Internet sites, publications, and press releases. Non-published but non-confidential data are available upon request.

Table 2.1.

Estonia: Data Quality Assessment Framework Summary Presentation of Results

National Accounts

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Note: NA= Not Applicable; O = Practice Observed; LO = Practice Largely Observed; LNO = Practice Largely Not Observed; NO = Practice Not Observed
Table 2.2.

Estonia: Data Quality Assessment Framework Summary Presentation of Results

Consumer Price Index

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Note: NA= Not Applicable; O = Practice Observed; LO = Practice Largely Observed; LNO = Practice Largely Not Observed; NO = Practice Not Observed
Table 2.3.

Estonia: Data Quality Assessment Framework Summary Presentation of Results

Balance of Payments Statistics

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Note: NA= Not Applicable; O = Practice Observed; LO = Practice Largely Observed; LNO = Practice Largely Not Observed; NO = Practice Not Observed
Table 2.4.

Estonia: Data Quality Assessment Framework Summary Presentation of Results

Government Finance Statistics

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Note: NA= Not Applicable; O = Practice Observed; LO = Practice Largely Observed; LNO = Practice Largely Not Observed; NO = Practice Not Observed
Table 2.5.

Estonia: Data Quality Assessment Framework Summary Presentation of Results

Monetary Statistics

(Central Bank and the Other Depository Corporations)

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Note: NA= Not Applicable; O = Practice Observed; LO = Practice Largely Observed; LNO = Practice Largely Not Observed; NO = Practice Not Observed

IV. Users’ Views

41. An informal survey of the usability of the statistical data produced by the Estonian authorities was sent to 50 respondents, of whom 12 replied. The small size of the sample and the low response rate suggests that the results should be interpreted with caution. Nevertheless, in general, those who responded were satisfied with the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of Estonian economic data.

42. The respondents to the data users survey were highly satisfied with the accessibility of the data, and particularly noted the usefulness of the BOE and SOE websites. They also rated the advance release calendars as highly useful, and noted that they were generally adhered to. Users were somewhat less satisfied with the coverage and level of detail of balance of payments and external debt data, and to a lesser extent, national accounts data. However, in general, the survey results suggest that user satisfaction with Estonia’s statistics is high.

V. Fund Staff Proposals

43. Based on the results of the data quality assessments and technical discussions with the Estonian authorities in the respective statistical agencies, the staff proposes the following measures for their consideration that would bring Estonia’s statistics into greater compliance with international standards and improve their usefulness for data users.

National accounts

High priority

  • Further efforts should be made to establish appropriate arrangements, on a regular basis, for access by the SOE to tax data from the Estonian National Tax Board. The staff fully endorses the careful development of methods and systems in this area, on the part of both agencies to enhance access to tax data while fully satisfying legislative provisions relating to data confidentiality. This effort should lead to significant potential benefits in terms of resource savings for both the SOE and respondents.

  • In establishing the new economic activity surveys, the SOE should direct particular attention to: reconciliation of quarterly and annual data for the main aggregates; a strategy for estimating and publishing standard errors; and a dissemination strategy that includes provision for advance estimates.

  • The national accounts sources and methods publication should be released as soon as possible. It should be updated from time to time, and expanded to cover linkages with other systems such as the balance of payments and government finance statistics.

Lower priority

  • The SOE should further pursue the establishment of a national statistical advisory council with appropriate membership, to comprise major users and data suppliers.

  • Efforts should be made to progressively reflect agricultural work-in-progress and general government on an accrual basis in the national accounts.

  • The SOE should examine the extent to which transactions between related enterprises and establishments reflect transfer (non-market) prices, and the need to make appropriate adjustments to market prices.

  • The SOE should be encouraged to make formal studies of trends in the statistical discrepancy, and should clarify what data are preliminary, revised and final in national accounts tables.

  • The SOE should conduct a small-scale survey of users of national accounts and also an across-the -board survey of users’ requirements concerning dissemination of statistics generally.

Consumer price index

High priority

  • The SOE should consider the desirability of obtaining prices more frequently (e.g., three or four times per month) for goods and services subject to considerable short-term price fluctuation. These might include, for example, fresh fruit and vegetables and vehicle fuels.

  • The SOE should review the practice of selecting a sample of three outlets (effectively six outlets in Tallinn as this is divided into two districts) for most of the CPI specifications. There may be a case for increasing the outlet sample size for certain significantly weighted items/ specifications.

Lower priority

  • The SOE should consider broadening the functions of the expert group on the CPI to include provision of advice on alternative methodologies and data sources (within the general framework of international standards and recommendations); the general usefulness of the CPI data produced; and data dissemination strategies.

  • The SOE should consider conducting a small-scale survey of users of the CPI.

  • The SOE should review possibilities for basing the sample design for the household budget survey on a household register or an address register. If funds permit, an increase in sample size would be of benefit in reducing standard errors of the estimates. The SOE should publish standard error information in its HBS publications.

  • The SOE should consider publication of more detailed indices and, from time to time, should reassess user demand for a separate CPI for Tallinn.

  • The SOE may wish to consider developing and publishing, on an on-going basis, the imported goods component of the CPI. This would provide a useful indication of the extent to which the CPI is affected by imported goods.

Balance of payments statistics

High priority

  • In disseminating the data, reference periods that are shown as containing preliminary data should be clearly distinguished from reference periods that contain revised data.

Lower priority

  • Portfolio investment transactions should be recorded excluding commissions.

Government finance statistics

Higher priority

  • MOF and other agencies (BOE, SOE) should agree on the definition of the institutional coverage of the general government and the rest of the public sector that is consistent with ESA95.4 A list of institutions in each sector should be agreed and applied in the compilation of macroeconomic statistical frameworks.

  • Strengthen the staff resources allocated to the compilation of GFS. In line with the practice in countries of a similar size and stage of development, and past practice in Estonia, at least three economists should be assigned to this area. Efforts should be made to document the procedures used for deriving the main GFS aggregates from data sources and the corresponding GFS classifications.

  • Modify the techniques for compiling monthly general government data, to eliminate the cumulative reporting of these series.

  • Expand the coverage for statistical purposes of the central and general governments. The transactions of the Privatization Agency, Stabilization Reserve Fund, Ownership Reform Fund, and the state-owned and municipal hospitals should be incorporated in the worksheets used to prepare the GFS. Regarding these units, the intergovernmental operations should be identified for the compilation of consolidated data. Similarly, efforts should be made to collect information, on a monthly or quarterly basis, on the operations of extrabudgetary funds.

  • The GFS compilers should meet periodically as needed with relevant staff of the Treasury, BOE, and SOE and make efforts to reconcile the GFS data with data of other statistical frameworks (e.g., monetary statistics, balance of payments and national accounts).

  • The MOF should prepare an action plan assigning priorities to the tasks needed to undertake the proposals above in conjunction with the tasks presently undertaken to meet the requirements of EU membership.

Lower priority

  • Attention should be given to the preparation of a migration path to compile GFS on an accrual basis according to the new draft GFS Manual.

  • The MOF and SOE should coordinate efforts to compile the cross-classification of functional data by economic type using the new Classifications of the functions of Government (COFOG) in the new draft GFS Manual.

  • To meet the data needs of international organizations, the consolidation procedure for compiling data for the general government should be revised to avoid eliminating in consolidation the social contributions paid by the government as employer from the revenue of the social security funds and from the expenditure of the paying central or local governments. Once this procedure is adopted, the consolidated data for earlier years should be revised accordingly.

Monetary statistics

Higher priority

  • The BOE should compile more comprehensive monetary statistics and aggregates from the other depository corporations, such as savings and loan associations, money market and mutual funds, and financial leasing companies, inasmuch as they issue short-term liabilities that are part of broad money. The legal framework for collecting these data should improve when the Law of Financial Inspection and the amendment to the Law of the Central Bank are fully operational in 2002.

  • To avoid confusion on the part of data users, the BOE should cease publishing monetary aggregates that include short-term investments and deposits of the central government and of nonresidents. The preferred methodology is that used by the BOE’s Banking Statistics and Analysis Department in the depository corporations survey, which is based on international guidelines. For internal policy purposes, other approaches to compiling the monetary aggregates may continue to be appropriate.

  • Consistency between monetary statistics with the comparable data in government finance statistics should be sought on a regular basis.

Lower priority

  • For monetary statistics purposes, all short-term securities reported in the sectoral balance sheets of the BOE and ODCs should be valued at market prices or fair values (estimates of market-price equivalents).

  • Additional improvements should be made regarding the classification and sectorization of financial derivatives and the inclusion of accrued interest in the outstanding value of financial instruments.

1

The mission was composed of C. Liuksila (Head), A.M. Valencia, G.H. Hoezoo (all STA), D. Allen and G. Ortiz (both experts).

2

A detailed description of the SDDS can be found on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) on the Internet at http://dsbb.imf.org.

3

The data dimension—coverage, periodicity, and timeless of the data—and the advance release calendars of the access dimension have been monitored since July 2000. Other elements of the SDDS are on a self-disclosure basis by subscribers, that is, the subscribers are asked to confirm on a quarterly basis that their descriptions of their practices are accurate.

4

The definition of general government is the same in the new GFSM and the ESA95.

Republic Of Estonia: Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—Data Module
Author: International Monetary Fund