The Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) Data Module provides a review of Greece’s data dissemination practices against the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), complemented by the in-depth assessment of the quality of Greece’s national accounts, consumer price index (CPI), producer price index (PPI), and government finance, monetary, and balance-of-payments statistics (BOP). The assessment was carried out by a mission from the IMF Statistics Department. Finally, this study provides recommendations to achieve improvements in Greece’s statistics.

Abstract

The Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) Data Module provides a review of Greece’s data dissemination practices against the IMF’s Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS), complemented by the in-depth assessment of the quality of Greece’s national accounts, consumer price index (CPI), producer price index (PPI), and government finance, monetary, and balance-of-payments statistics (BOP). The assessment was carried out by a mission from the IMF Statistics Department. Finally, this study provides recommendations to achieve improvements in Greece’s statistics.

I. Introduction

1. The data module of this ROSC provides a summary of Greece’s dissemination practices relative to the SDDS. It is complemented by an assessment of the quality of national accounts, consumer and wholesale price indices, government finance, monetary, and balance of payments statistics. This report is based on information provided prior to and during a staff mission from October 29 to November 12, 2002,1 as well as publicly available information.

2. Section II provides the assessment of Greece’s data dissemination practices against the SDDS. Section III presents the summary assessment of the quality of the principal macroeconomic datasets. Finally, Section IV sets out recommendations to achieve further improvements in Greece’s statistics.

II. Data Dissemination Practices and the Special Data Dissemination Standard

3. Greece became the fifty-first subscriber to the SDDS on November 8, 2002 and started posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB). Greece is in observance of the SDDS, having met the specifications for the coverage, periodicity and timeliness of the data, and for the dissemination of advance release calendars. The Data Template on International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity and the National Summary Data Page were hyperlinked to the DSBB on November 8, 2002.

4. Three official institutions are responsible for the compilation and dissemination of the SDDS prescribed data categories. The General Secretariat of the National Statistical Service of Greece (NSSG) compiles and disseminates data on the national accounts, industrial production index, labor market, price indices, merchandise trade, and population. The BOG has responsibility for the analytical accounts of the banking sector, the analytical accounts of the central bank, interest rates, balance of payments, international investment position, and international reserves. The General Accounting Office of the Ministry of Economy and Finance (GAO) is responsible for data on central government operations and central government debt. The data template on international reserves and foreign currency liquidity is compiled by the BOG using both internally-sourced information and data provided by the MEF. General government operations data are compiled by the NSSG on the basis of input from the MEF. The Athens Stock Exchange compiles and disseminates the share price index.

5. These data can be accessed in a variety of publications and on the following Internet websites:

Data dimension: coverage, periodicity, and timeliness

6. Greece meets the SDDS specifications for the data dimension, using flexibility options for the periodicity and timeliness of the financing of central government operations and the timeliness of the international investment positions (see Table 1). Periodicity and timeliness more than fulfill the requirements of the standard for some data categories.

Table 1.

Greece—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 date 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.

Given that the data are broadly disseminated by private means, the timeliness with which official data are disseminated is not time critical.

Access dimension

7. Greece meets the requirements of the SDDS in terms of access to data by the public. Advance release calendars are disseminated both in hard copy format as well as on the Internet websites of NSSG and BOG. These advance release calendars are supplemented by a quarter-ahead presentation of release dates on the DSBB. For the MEF, a one-quarter-ahead calendar of release dates is disseminated on the DSBB; notice informing the public of this calendar is given on the MEF’s website.

8. Data are released simultaneously to all interested parties, generally on the websites of the relevant agencies and on Greece’s national summary data page, which is maintained by the MEF (http://www.mnec.gr/sdds/users.asp).

Integrity dimension

9. Information on terms and conditions that govern the collection, compilation, and dissemination of data, including the confidentiality of the data collected, is available to the public in English and Greek.

10. Procedures on internal government access to the data prior to public release are disseminated on the DSBB. According to Greece’s SDDS metadata, there is no internal government access to the data prior to public release, except for data on CPI. The CPI data are provided to the Minister of National Economy and Finance one hour before the press release. In accord with EU requirements, certain data are provided to the Statistical Office of the European Communities (Eurostat) and the European Central Bank (ECB) in advance of their release to the public.

11. Data released by the statistical agencies are not accompanied by ministerial commentary.

Quality dimension

12. Summary methodology statements for all SDDS data categories, except wages/earnings, have been provided to the IMF and posted on the DSBB. In addition, methodological information is disseminated by the NSSG, BOG, and MEF.

Monitoring of data

13. In accordance with the IMF Executive Board’s Third Review of the Fund’s Data Standards Initiatives, the IMF staff began monitoring subscribers’ performance under the SDDS in July 2000. 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. Greece’s dissemination practices were in observance of SDDS at the time of its subscription.

III. Summary Assessment of Data Quality

14. An assessment of six macroeconomic datasets—national accounts, consumer price index, wholesale price index, government finance, monetary, and the balance of payments statistics—was conducted using the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). This framework, developed by the IMF’s Statistics Department, provides a structure and common language to assess data quality. It comprises a generic framework and a set of dataset-specific frameworks that cover five dimensions of data quality—integrity, methodological soundness, accuracy and reliability, serviceability, and accessibility—and a set of prerequisites.2

15. As will become apparent in the assessments, Greece’s memberships in the EU and in the EMU shape Greek official statistics and statistical policy in a number of ways.

  • In some areas, the European requirements reinforce already existing national practices. For example, Greek agencies’ already strong protection for the confidentiality of individual data is reinforced by regulations from the European level.

  • In other areas, the EU and EMU memberships transfer the focus from the national to the European level. Most obvious is the transfer of monetary policymaking authority to the ECB, one result of which is that the ECB now has a major voice as a user of statistics. In line with the needs of European-level policy makers, there is a strong push to increase the scope and timeliness of statistics and to further harmonize members’ statistics.

  • Especially where the focus has transferred to the European level, Greek statisticians participate with colleagues from other member countries in working groups and other fora to arrive at common decisions, often sharing good practices and extending the reach of professionalism.

  • In statistical methodology, Eurostat and the ECB issue a range of documents that provide guidelines and recommendations. Some of these allow substantial room for national practices in the collection and compilation of required statistical outputs. Others mandate specific practices in data collection and compilation.

  • The important role played by quantitative guidelines and targets—such as the fiscal guidelines set by the Stability and Growth Pact, and the ECB’s goal of measured inflation of less than 2 percent—highlights not only the need for accurate statistics, but also the need for statisticians to guard their independence vigorously and to avoid pressures or temptations to arrive at “acceptable” figures.

16. Substantial progress has been made in statistical methodologies and compilation practices aimed at fulfilling Greece’s responsibilities for compiling and reporting data to the ECB and Eurostat. This progress forms a sound basis from which further improvements in accessibility and usefulness of statistics for both domestic and other international users can be fashioned.

17. Information resulting from the application of the assessment framework to the Greek statistical system is presented below, following the structure of the DQAF. Conclusions are also presented in summary tables in which the assessment of data practices is made using a four-part scale (see Table 2 and Tables 1–6 in the detailed assessment volume).

Table 2.

Greece—Data Quality Assessment Framework: Summary Presentation of Results

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18. In summary, Greece’s macroeconomic statistics are of generally good quality. However, the IMF staff identified some shortcomings that might detract from the accurate and timely analysis of economic and financial developments and the formulation of appropriate policies.

Prerequisites of quality

This category in the DQAF identifies conditions within the agency in charge of producing statistics that have an impact on data quality. The elements within the category refer to the legal and institutional environment, resources, and quality awareness.

19. The NSSG is responsible for compiling and disseminating the national accounts, price statistics, and other socio-economic statistics. The legal and institutional environment for collecting, processing and disseminating statistics is provided by two laws adopted in 1956 (Decree No. 3627) and 1996 (Decree No. 2392), and by the Presidential Decrees of 1986 (No. 224) and 2000 (No. 226), which clearly describe the role and responsibilities of the NSSG, including the compilation and dissemination of national accounts statistics. The confidentiality provisions of these laws are further strengthened by the law of 1997 (No. 2472) on the protection of the fundamental rights and freedoms of individuals. Coordination among data producing agencies for compiling national accounts statistics is adequate. Staff and other resources are generally adequate for the current national accounts and price statistics programs. However, more staff are required to further expand the scope of national accounts. Management’s quality awareness is evidenced by its close tracking of the timely implementation of EU regulations and other EU-wide guidelines to develop national accounts and price statistics. A Statistical Council is envisaged in the law but it is not working.

20. No single agency is responsible for compiling and disseminating a comprehensive and integrated set of government finance statistics. The MEF has a legal and institutional environment that generally supports the compilation and dissemination of budgetary execution reports and data on central government debt. The NSSG, which has the legal mandate for compiling the national accounts, compiles general government sector and subsector data on an accruals basis. Reporting from government respondents appears adequate and should further improve with the scheduled revision of questionnaires and introduction of electronic reporting.

21. The NSSG is the lead institution, in cooperation with the MEF and the BOG, for reporting to the European Commission deficit and debt data and nonfinancial accounts for general government. It also reports other European System of Accounts 1995 (ESA 95) government accounts statistics to Eurostat in the context of the EU statistical transmission program. Data sharing and coordination among data producing agencies are reported adequate. Staffing in the MEF appears adequate for monitoring budgetary execution. Staff resources are under strain in the NSSG; they have not increased despite additional demands in the context of Greece’s adhesion to EMU.3 In this context, meeting deadlines to report to the EU Commission receives the highest priority.4 In both institutions computing capacity is reported adequate. Neither agency has mechanisms for the formal evaluation of the efficiency of resource use. Quality awareness is evidenced by implementation of EU standards and the scheduled upgrade of the working environment. However, there is no procedure for monitoring data quality.

22. The legal and institutional environment underpinning the BOG’s compilation and dissemination of national monetary and balance of payments statistics provides the prerequisites for sound statistical systems. Laws promulgated to meet the requirements of the Treaty on European Union strengthen the BOG’s legal basis for data collection, and provide assurances of confidentiality. Data sharing and coordination stemming from membership in the EMU also are addressed; data collection for balance of payments statistics is supported by adequate data sharing and coordination among reporting agencies. Staff, financial and computer resources are commensurate with current statistical programs for balance of payments statistics, but additional staff are needed for monetary statistics. The recent approval of additional staff resources to lessen the workload and to undertake the compilation of financial accounts to meet the Eurostat deadline in 2005, is a welcome step. Within the BOG’s Statistics Department, project budgeting, requiring approval from the BOG’s General Council, is used. Line managers are expected to efficiently use resources under their supervision.

23. Quality awareness within the BOG’s Statistics Department is primarily driven by work undertaken by the ECB and Eurostat. Procedures to monitor the quality of collection and processing exist, but no formal processes are in place to monitor the quality of statistics disseminated by the BOG. Assurance of data quality is enhanced by the periodic compliance assessments of methodological practices and accuracy undertaken by the ECB and Eurostat. The BOG’s management recognizes the tradeoffs among dimensions of quality and gives priority to the timeliness dimension in meeting the ECB reporting requirements for both monetary and balance of payments.

Integrity

Integrity identifies features that support firm adherence to objectivity in the collection, compilation, and dissemination of statistics so as to maintain users’ confidence. Elements refer to the professionalism and ethical standards that should guide policies and practices, which should be reinforced by their transparency.

24. The NSSG follows high standards of professionalism, which is supported by adequate legislation. The national accounts and price statistics staff is highly competent. The choice of source data and statistical techniques is based solely on statistical considerations, including EU regulations. Transparency of the NSSG’s policies and practices is promoted by making the rules governing the collection and dissemination of statistics widely available through the NSSG website and its information service. The national accounts data and consumer and wholesale price indices are released to all the users at the same time, and are always attributed to the NSSG. The strong laws protecting confidentiality and the rules for civil servants provide a clear set of ethical standards for the staff.

25. The MEF staff, including the staff of the NSSG, evidence professionalism. Recruiting is generally competitive. Staff is free to respond publicly to erroneous interpretations of the data.

26. The integrity of central government data relies on the strict application of accounting rules and budgetary classifications, including budgetary control and audit of the budgetary outcome by the Hellenic Republic Court of Audit. This emphasis on accounting processes provides technical guidelines that contribute to impartiality and transparency. Laws and ministerial decisions governing the production of accounting data are made public.

27. All government finance data published by the MEF and NSSG are labeled as products of the respective agencies. The producer of the data is generally identified in tables on government finance statistics published by other agencies. Ethical standards are provided by the Code of Conduct for Civil Servants that applies to both MEF and NSSG staff.

28. Staff of the BOG adhere to a long tradition of professionalism in compiling and disseminating statistics on an impartial basis. Staff select source data and methodology based solely on statistical considerations, including compliance with the ECB’s regulations and requirements. They provide comments on erroneous interpretations and misuse of statistics. The BOG operates under clear and transparent statistical policies; the BOG Statute and the ECB’s regulations are widely disseminated on the Internet. Staff operate under strict ethical standards as specified in the BOG Statute and internal regulations.

Methodological soundness

Methodological soundness refers to the application of international standards, guidelines, and agreed practices. Application of such standards, which are specific to the dataset, is indicative of the soundness of the data and fosters international comparability. Elements refer to the basic building blocks of concepts and definitions, scope, classification/sectorization, and basis for recording.

29. The concepts and definitions of national accounts statistics follow ESA 95. The scope of the national accounts extends beyond the recommended range of annual and quarterly tables, including annual regional accounts and simplified provincial accounts, annual accounts for agriculture, detailed tables relating to environmental issues, and a Social Accounting Matrix (for 1997). Input-output tables are published regularly. The classification/sectorization and basis for recording follow international standards.

30. The concepts and definitions employed in the consumer price index are in line with the EU regulations and international best practices. The scope of the index covers the expenditures of all residents except collective households and tourists. Classification and basis for recording accord with international best practices.

31. The wholesale price index is broadly based on ESA 95 concepts and definitions for valuation and time of recording. Its scope covers the market sales of goods producing resident enterprises. Classifications used for establishments and products, and basis for recording weights and prices are broadly in line with EU requirements and international best practices.

32. General government sector statistics are compiled on an accrual basis by the NSSG according to the concepts and definitions of ESA 95 as part of the broader preparation of the national accounts. However, these data are not produced in the context of a comprehensive and fully integrated fiscal analysis framework. The scope of the data broadly follows EU standards, however no data on financial flows and balance sheets are prepared. Classification of annual data follows ESA 95 rules without being complemented by a “government finance” classification. MEF data follow a national classification broadly conforming to the 1986 GFS recommendations. Regarding basis for recording, NSSG are recorded on an accrual basis and MEF data are produced on a cash basis according to national public accounting standards. For both sets of data, market prices are used.

33. The BOG’s analytical framework for monetary statistics reflects concepts and definitions that adhere to the ECB’s requirements and broadly conform to the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual (MFSM). The scope follows closely the ECB’s standard that is generally consistent with the MFSM recommendations. The classification of financial instruments and sectorization of institutional units are based on the ECB’s requirements and the 1995 ESA, mostly consistent with MFSM. Deviations from the MFSM include the classification of monetary gold, loan loss provisions, and SDRs, as well as financial derivatives not separately identifiable. Sectorization is also on a more aggregate basis than the MFSM standard. The basis for recording accords largely with the MFSM’s recommendations on market or market-equivalent valuation. In conformity with the ECB regulation, financial transactions are recorded on gross and accrual bases.

34. Greece’s national balance of payments statistics are compiled in broad conformity with the concepts and definitions of the IMF’s Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition (BPM5). While resident institutional units are classified in accord with BPM5 guidelines, the exclusion of reinvested earnings and undistributed branch profits limits the scope of published monthly statistics in their coverage of all resident-nonresident transactions.5 Data published by the BOG also do not follow BPM5 classifications of merchandise trade, and investment income.6 Data limitations preclude the recording of income on trade credits, the interest share in leasing payments, and income on intercompany loans. The basis for recording monthly balance of payments transactions departs from accrual accounting as is typical with the use of bank settlements-based reporting systems. Data on interest payments for government debt are also reported on a cash basis.

Accuracy and reliability

Accuracy and reliability identifies features that contribute to the goal that data portray reality. Elements refer to identified features of the source data, statistical techniques, and supporting assessments and validation.

35. The source data for compiling national accounts statistics come from the extensive survey program of the NSSG, supplemented with administrative data. The survey program is adequately supported by an up-to-date business register. The response rates to the surveys are very good, and timeliness of the source data is within the EU limits. However, the short-term data sources lack the data on changes in inventories. The statistical techniques for compiling quarterly accounts by expenditure components rely on disaggregation/autoregressive models using short-term indices. The quarterly accounts are revised as more reliable data become available, which frequently results in sizeable fluctuations in the estimates. The annual gross domestic product estimates by activity and by expenditure components are derived independently at a detailed level, and reconciled in a supply-use framework. However, in some cases there is reliance on ratios that are more than five years old, such as the ratios used from the ad-hoc survey of retail trade of 1988. Routine assessment and validation provide adequate monitoring of the survey processes. Revision studies are undertaken, but not published.

36. Extension in geographical coverage of the consumer price index to include rural households was achieved in the latest revision. Source data for the weights are based on a comprehensive household budget survey (HBS) conducted every five years. Use of statistical methods in sampling and adjusting quality changes could further help NSSG to make more efficient use of its resources and add to the accuracy of the index. Source and intermediate data are routinely validated during the compilation.

37. The wholesale price index combines results from several surveys and censuses as source data for its weights. Revisions are made every five years, but timeliness to complete the revisions need to be improved to ensure a representative picture of the market structure. Due to the rapidly changing nature of some industries, new goods when they become important in the market should be added between weight revisions. To better cover all market enterprises, sampling of small and household unincorporated enterprises could be undertaken. Processes to assess and validate the price data are in place but more emphasis could be placed on assuring the uniformity of source data.

38. Source data for ESA 95-based general government sector statistics consist of budget execution statements of the MEF published in the annual draft budget and final accounts, budget execution reports of other government entities, and of comprehensive questionnaires sent to social security funds and local authorities. Source data do not generally provide information on financial flows, and, for local authorities and social security funds, relate to only one year of data, thereby precluding meaningful revisions. Data are therefore minimally revised, but according to a set schedule, and statistical discrepancies are investigated. Consistency checks of the government sector data with other sectoral accounts provide validation. Participation of the NSSG in working groups and other fora of the European statistical system provides further assurance of accuracy and reliability. Furthermore, routine review by Eurostat of statistics reported under the EDP help ensure that ESA 95 methodology is correctly implemented, as was the case last year when the data reported under the EDP September notification were significantly revised (see paragraph 21). Because no financial accounts are compiled (see paragraph 32), the consistency between nonfinancial and financial balances, and across data sets cannot be ascertained. Therefore, while the validation of source data is adequate, assessment and validation of statistical output would be strengthened by the compilation of financial accounts. Revision studies are not routinely done.

39. Central government data are compiled by aggregating accounting data and no special statistical techniques are required. Revisions are minuscule. Assessment and validation of data depend on established verification procedures and audit mechanisms.

40. The source data for monetary statistics are derived from comprehensive accounting records of the BOG and OMFIs and have complete institutional coverage. The compilation of source data follows the ECB framework. The BOG indicated that the source data are based on the residency of the account holder and allow for classification/sectorization of financial instruments. However, reporting inconsistencies among MFIs result in relatively large interbank discrepancies and relative high levels of other assets/total assets and other liabilities/total liabilities signal the need to improve source data. Statistical techniques are sound. Electronic reporting and data processing, automated validation procedures, and documentation of data compilation practices have contributed to the production of timely monetary statistics. Assessment and validation of source and intermediate data, as well as statistical output, is carried out on a regular basis, which allows for necessary investigation of inconsistencies in source data. Revision studies are part of normal operations to investigate deviations, omissions and other potential sources of problems in the data. In practice, the size of revisions has been small.

41. Balance of payments statistics are compiled on the basis of a closed international transactions reporting system (ITRS) based on banks’ settlements reporting. In response to the introduction of the euro, and to provide coverage for external transactions of resident institutional units outside the domestic banking sector, the ITRS has been increasingly supplemented by data collections from direct declarants, periodic surveys and secondary sources. Source data are timely, and effective data management procedures support overall accuracy. They are also assessed periodically for comprehensiveness, and this has led, for example, to the introduction of a frontiers travel survey in 2002 aimed at enhancing the coverage of cross-border travel transactions. Statistical techniques are sound. Within the context of compiling and disseminating monthly balance of payments statistics, assessment and validation of intermediate data and statistical outputs are adequate. Although formal revision studies are not conducted, major revisions arising from changes in methodology and source data are assessed before inclusion in the balance of payments series.

Serviceability

Serviceability focuses on practical aspects of how well a dataset meets users’ needs. Elements refer to the extent to which data are relevant, are produced and disseminated in a timely fashion with appropriate periodicity, are consistent internally and with other datasets, and follow a predictable revisions policy.

42. The relevance of national accounts statistics is recognized in the context of EU regulations. Feedback is obtained from users informally. Timeliness and periodicity of national accounts follow SDDS. Data are released simultaneously to all interested parties. Consistency of the national accounts is established through iterative balancing procedures relying on the supply-use framework. The external trade data in the national accounts are not consistent with the balance of payments data because of different coverage and valuations. Although a regular schedule for revision policy and practice is being established, the analyses of revisions are not made public.

43. Users’ needs are generally well met for the consumer price index and the wholesale price index. However, for wholesale price index, there are no processes that would permit dialogue between the users to regularly assess the relevant of the statistics. Timeliness and periodicity are consistent with the SDDS requirements. Data are released simultaneously to all interested parties. Revision policy and practice are in place, however advance notice is not given. For the wholesale price index, linking of old indices could be done at a more disaggregated level to allow better use of long time series. Aggregation methods used guarantee the consistency of both indices.

44. The relevance of government finance statistics could be significantly improved by adopting an analytical framework and more detailed classification suited for fiscal analysis. Central government data are not sufficiently broken down to follow fiscal developments, except at the most aggregated level, and time series are usually not published. The fact that component detail and time series are available on demand from the MEF is not indicated in publications. Periodicity and timeliness follow the SDDS, except in the case of central government financing data, which are disseminated only annually rather than monthly. Data are released simultaneously to all interested parties.

45. The presentation of general government according to the ESA 95 sequence of accounts is not useful for fiscal analysis. The Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001) framework could be derived in great part from the ESA 95 data and has more relevance for this purpose. The NSSG sees Eurostat as a main user of its statistics and does not actively seek opinions of users within the general public.

46. Consistency within the dataset and with other statistical frameworks cannot be ascertained for lack of financial accounts. Serviceability is further hampered by the publication of different government finance statistics presentations. These presentations should be unified or explanatory notes and bridge tables should explain the links between these presentations. Revision policy and practice is guided by EU reporting requirements, and publications do not indicate revisions.

47. The relevance of monetary statistics has improved significantly since the reformatting of the data presentation during the past few years, not only to meet the ECB’s requirement but to follow more closely the MFSM’s recommendations. The BOG relies on close informal contact with major users to obtain feedback on monetary statistics. It also relies on the ECB’s procedures to ensure relevancy of the statistics to users. Timeliness and periodicity are consistent with the SDDS. However, consistency needs improvement, especially with other sectors. Revision policy and practice follows broadly the schedule established by the ECB. However, documentation on revision policy and practice is not published. The BOG plans to improve further the information regarding revision policy and practice in the Monthly Bulletin.

48. The BOG does not seek regular feedback from users to assess the relevance of its balance of payments statistics, but staff participation at international statistical fora provide mechanisms for gauging the relevance and practical utility of balance of payments statistics. Monthly data are disseminated within six weeks after the end of the reference month, thereby exceeding the SDDS requirements for periodicity and timeliness. While the data are internally consistent, errors and omissions exhibit volatility (in both sign and magnitude). Consistency with the national accounts aggregates is not observed.7 Revision policy and practice do not follow a regular, well established and transparent schedule, and the status of the data are not identified in high-frequency hard copy publications. While no systematic revision studies are conducted, breaks in series, unusual changes in economic trends and significant transactions in the financial account are drawn to users’ attention.

Accessibility

Accessibility deals with the availability of information to users. Elements refer to the extent to which data and metadata are clear and easily available and to which assistance to users is adequate to help them find and use the data.

49. Although data accessibility of the national accounts has improved with the new dedicated national accounts publication, it does not have charts and tables, nor analysis of current-period developments, which are concerns of users. Description of current period developments is covered in other publications, such as Current Developments and Prospects of the Greek Economy and the Stability and Growth Program. Inadequate metadata accessibility is also of concern since the current metadata do not adequately explain source data and statistical techniques. Information on data biases, response rates to the main surveys, and linkages with other data systems is not disseminated. Although assistance to users is not monitored through periodic surveys of users, the assistance provided by national accounts staff is very good. Information about the contact person is not widely available.

50. The data accessibility of the consumer price index and the wholesale price index is good. They are released on a pre-announced schedule and made available to all users at the same time. Metadata accessibility is adequate. However, statistical publications do not publicize contact persons. Assistance to users is constantly being improved by expanding the information available over the Internet.

51. While data accessibility for government finance statistics is broadly adequate, it is hindered by the inadequate content and format of some publications. Annual government finance statistics are presented in a national accounts format rather than according to a government finance statistics presentation. Metadata accessibility is inadequate. No formal sources and methods documentation is published, and documentation for central government data exists only in the form of laws, budget nomenclature, and codes. Assistance to users is provided on demand, but this service is not advertised in publications. Contact persons are not identified in national publications and websites. However, the Public Debt Bulletin provides a generic departmental e-mail address for queries.

52. The monetary statistics are readily accessible both from the BOG’s website and in publications. Statistics are presented with charts and tables that facilitate analysis. However, use of terminology is not consistent across statistical tables. For example, the term “resident” means Euro area residents in some tables, but Greek residents in others. More explanation with the data would be useful especially regarding comparability of data before and after joining the Euro area and the concept of consolidation in the context of the Euro area with the extended resident term, i.e., “Greek resident plus other Euro residents.” Statistics are released on a preannounced schedule and made available to all users at the same time. Nonpublished statistics are available upon request. Metadata accessibility from the BOG’s website meets users’ needs for basic information with further references to more detailed information. Assistance to users is adequate.

53. Accessibility for the balance of payments statistics is hindered by aggregative and limited time series presentations that depart in some instances from BPM5 structure and classifications and are not conducive to meaningful temporal comparisons. Dissemination media and formats are adequate, but the use of the Internet as a medium for disseminating detailed balance of payments data, and historical time series is not fully exploited. Statistics are released on a pre-announced schedule and made available to all users at the same time. The ECB’s European Union Balance of Payments/International Investment Position Statistical Methods (2001) provides the most comprehensive and up to date published metadata, and is available online. However, national statistical publications are devoid of methodological notes. A contact person for balance of payments statistics is identified on the BOG’s Internet website, but not in the BOG’s statistical publications. Assistance to users is adequate.

IV. Staff’s Recommendations

General Recommendations

High Priority

  • Establish procedures for cross checking consistency among national accounts, government finance, monetary and balance of payments statistics; this could be in the form of an inter-agency working group.

  • For all statistics except price indices, disseminate statements about revision policy and practice; consolidate and update existing information from various sources. Clearly identify the status (provisional/revised/final) of balance of payments statistics across all statistical publications.

  • Undertake and disseminate revision studies routinely to shed light on accuracy of statistics.

  • Compile and disseminate consistent and comprehensive documentation on concepts and definitions, scope, classification/sectorization, basis for recording, source data and statistical techniques. Deviations from international guidelines should be clearly identified in these metadata.

Other

  • Implement the Statistical Council, as envisaged under law, to provide guidance on quality, in particular on improving the serviceability and accessibility of national statistics.

  • In addition to participation in official committees and task forces at the national and European levels, regularize contacts with users of national accounts, price, government finance and balance of payments statistics to learn about their data needs. This can be effected by, inter alia, users’ surveys.

  • Widely publicize contact persons in all statistics-producing agencies.

  • Disseminate more detailed and time series statistics for government finance, price and balance of payments statistics.

National Accounts

High Priority

  • Improve the short-term source data, in particular develop short-term statistics on changes in inventories.

  • Improve data accessibility by providing charts and tables, and analysis of current-period developments.

Other

  • Reduce the reliance of statistical techniques on outdated ratios.

Consumer Price Index

High Priority

  • Improve the accuracy of the index through prompt use of statistical methods to respond to quality changes.

Other

  • Investigate the use of statistical methods for sample selection.

Wholesale Price Index

High Priority

  • Improve timeliness of source data and weight revisions.

  • Establish a formal process to permit dialogue between compilers and users on a regular basis, such as users’ survey.

Other

  • Use sampling techniques to cover small enterprises.

Government Finance Statistics

High Priority

  • Compile and disseminate a full set of financial accounts for the general government sector and its subsectors.

  • Compile and disseminate monthly financing data for the central government cash data.

  • Improve the serviceability of general government statistics by adopting a migration path towards the GFSM 2001, with ESA 95 data as a starting point for the full implementation of the system.

  • Integrate GFS codes and nomenclature in the Treasury accounting system.

Other

  • Assign to one agency the main responsibility for compiling and disseminating a comprehensive and integrated set of government finance statistics, including statistics on financing transactions (i.e. financial accounts). The BOG would continue to be responsible for financial accounts statistics under the lead of the designated agency.

  • Publish a dedicated annual, or quarterly, government finance statistics publication.

Monetary Statistics

High Priority

  • Increase staff resources to allow for the development and implementation of a longer-term statistical work program, including compilation of financial accounts and improving source data.

  • Improve accuracy of source data by resolving inconsistencies in the reports of OMFIs to reduce interbank discrepancies, thereby lowering the level of other assets and other liabilities.

Other

  • Use consistent terminology and provide more explanation, e.g., concerning intertemporal comparability of data and their consolidation.

  • Identify as a memorandum item data on financial derivatives and accrued interest, as well as claims on and liabilities to public nonfinancial corporations.

Balance of Payments Statistics

High Priority

  • Introduce estimates for reinvested earnings and undistributed branch profits into the balance of payments statistics.

  • Report data on interest payments for government debt on an accrual basis.

Other

  • Supplement existing balance of payments tables with more comprehensive presentations in which classifications for goods and investment income according to BPM5 are disseminated.

1

The mission team was headed by Mr. Robert Di Calogero and included Messrs. Paul Austin, Sarmad Khawaja, Vincent Marie and Ms. Wipada Soonthornsima (all STA), Mr. Kari Manninen (expert), and Mrs. Niccole Braynen-Kimani (STA—Administrative Assistant).

2

See the Generic Framework in Appendix II of the accompanying Detailed Assessments volume to this report.

3

However, after the ROSC mission, the NSSG has started the procedure to recruit 37 qualified statisticians.

4

As with other EU Member States, the data on deficit and debt reported under the EDP are reviewed by Eurostat. This review, during which the treatment of specific transactions is examined, can lead to revisions to the reported data. In the case of Greece, discussions with Eurostat led to an upward revision of the reported debt to gross domestic product ratio for 2001 of 7.5 percentage points.

5

Reinvested earnings are not a requirement for monthly reporting to the ECB. However, annual data on reinvested earnings are compiled on the basis of the annual surveys of foreign direct investment, but are not yet included in the balance of payments series.

6

These classifications were reported to the Fund (for the years 1999-2001), for redissemination in the Balance of Payments Yearbook.

7

Between 1995 and 2002, annual changes in the current account balance (as a share of gross domestic product generated between the two statistical systems—BOG’s settlements-based current account and the NSSG’s external accounts—were of the same sign in only two of seven years, and absolute differences in the annual changes were in excess of one percentage point of gross domestic product in four of the seven years.