This report on Oman’s Observance of Standards and Codes examines Data Module, response by the authorities, and detailed assessments using the data quality assessment framework. Omani authorities have strongly committed to adhering to internationally accepted standards and good practices in statistics. The authorities have taken several important measures such as implementing the latest international statistical standards and/or moving in that direction, and participating in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and regularly updating the GDDS metadata.

Abstract

This report on Oman’s Observance of Standards and Codes examines Data Module, response by the authorities, and detailed assessments using the data quality assessment framework. Omani authorities have strongly committed to adhering to internationally accepted standards and good practices in statistics. The authorities have taken several important measures such as implementing the latest international statistical standards and/or moving in that direction, and participating in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and regularly updating the GDDS metadata.

I. Introduction

1. The data dissemination module of this Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) summarizes Oman’s practices on the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness of several data categories against the IMF’s General Data Dissemination System (GDDS).2 It is complemented by an assessment of the quality of national accounts, consumer price index (CPI), government finance, monetary, and balance of payments statistics using the July 2003 vintage of the Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF) developed by the IMF’s Statistics Department (STA). The quality of the producer price index is not assessed because the index is not disseminated, although it is at an advanced stage of development. This report is based on information provided prior to and during a staff mission from February 8–23, 2004,3 publicly available information, feedback from data users through a users’ survey conducted prior to the mission, and meetings held by the mission with key respondents.

2. Section II provides an assessment of Oman’s data dissemination practices against the GDDS. Section III presents a summary assessment of the quality of the principal macroeconomic datasets, following the dataset-specific assessment frameworks (included in the accompanying detailed assessments volume). Finally, Section IV sets out recommendations for further improvements in Oman’s statistics.

II. Data Dissemination Practices and the General Data Dissemination System

3. Oman’s data dissemination practices are assessed against four GDDS dimensions—(1) data, (2) quality, (3) integrity, and (4) access. Where shortcomings are found, the focus is on the plans for improvements posted on the IMF’s Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB). Metadata were first posted on the DSBB in June 2002 and updated as of July 2003 (and September 2003 for national accounts statistics).

4. Macroeconomic statistics in Oman are mainly produced by the following three institutions: (1) the Ministry of National Economy (MONE) is responsible for the national accounts, prices, and other statistics; (2) the Ministry of Finance (MOF) is responsible for statistics on the central government operations and central government debt; and (3) the Central Bank of Oman (CBO) is responsible for monetary and balance of payments statistics.

5. Access to macroeconomic data and socio-demographic indicators is provided through several publications and the following websites:

Data dimension: coverage, periodicity, and timeliness

6. Oman’s core statistical frameworks adhere to the GDDS recommendations—except for the fiscal sector, regarding the timeliness of central government debt data, and for several core indicators (see Table 1). However, full adherence to the GDDS recommendations will also require (1) compiling production indices and data on unemployment; (2) improving data coverage on employment and wages/earnings of the private sector; (3) disseminating central government debt, as well as public and publicly guaranteed external debt/debt service schedule; (4) improving the periodicity of the national CPI; and (5) improving the timeliness of balance of payments core indicators—although comprehensive balance of payments data meet the timeliness recommended in the GDDS. Oman also disseminates some of the GDDS-encouraged data indicators (see Table 1).

Table 1.

Oman: Overview of Current Practices Regarding Coverage, Periodicity, and Timeliness of Data Compared to the General Data Dissemination System

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Note: Italics indicate encouraged categories; “n.a.” means not applicable.

In Oman, central government is equivalent to general government, owing to the absence of state governments and the inclusion of local governments (not regarded as separate levels of government) in central government accounts.

Included only in IMF’s Government Finance Statistics (GFS) Yearbook. Monthly data are available upon request.

The MONE is at an advanced stage of compiling the index, and plans to disseminate it quarterly with a quarter lag.

Partial coverage of the private sector.

Dissemination as part of a high-frequency (e.g., monthly) publication.

Only central government and central government guaranteed external debt are included.

Foreign assets of the CBO.

Quality dimension

7. The assessment of the quality dimension of the GDDS is based on the dissemination of (1) documentation on methodology and data sources and (2) component detail and reconciliation with related data. Documentation on the methodology for macroeconomic statistics in Oman is available on the IMF’s DSBB website and periodically updated. However, only limited detailed documentation on concepts and methods is published by the data-producing institutions, and the DSBB is not publicized on their websites.

Integrity dimension

8. The GDDS recommends disclosure of the legal framework for the compilation and dissemination of data, including the confidentiality of the collected data. The legal framework and institutional arrangements under which most official statistics in Oman are compiled and disseminated support, to a large extent, the integrity of the statistical system, but this information is not sufficiently publicized. Information on the extent of the government’s internal access to the data prior to their release to the public is not disseminated.

Access dimension

9. Ready and equal access to official statistics by all market participants is a fundamental requirement for the statistics to be regarded as a public good. This would be facilitated by (1) simultaneous release to all users and (2) dissemination of advance release calendars. In Oman, advance release calendars with specific dates for data release are not provided to users, although all institutions follow internal release schedules that are largely known by the public.

Plans for improvement

10. Plans for improving data quality are integral to the GDDS. The following comments are based on the information available on the IMF’s DSBB website and comments provided by the authorities during the mission.

  • In terms of the national accounts statistics, the MONE plans to disseminate a revised set of GDP estimates with a new base year of 2000, including independently calculated estimates of private final consumption expenditure. In addition, the scope of the accounts will be broadened to include capital accounts as well as supply and use tables for 2000-01.

  • Regarding the CPI, the MONE plans to incorporate new weights, extend the coverage to be more representative of the whole country, publish a detailed methodological guide for the new CPI, and describe the impact of the new weights.

  • In the area of GFS, the MOF plans to improve the recently established MOF website with the view to disseminating fiscal data (including annual central government debt data) and metadata. The MOF will continue to investigate the Integrated Financial System with the aim of improving the accounting system of government and of bringing accounting practices in line with current international standards and the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001).

  • Regarding monetary statistics, the CBO plans to present monetary survey data according to the classification recommended by the Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual (MFSM), make advance release calendars available to the public, and give advance notice to the public of major changes in methodology.

  • For the external sector, the CBO plans to improve the balance of payments coverage, mainly of the nonfinancial private sector, by introducing surveys; compile data on goods in line with the Balance of Payments Manual, fifth edition (BPM5); compile the international investment position (IIP) data; and give advance notice when major methodological changes occur.

III. Summary Assessment of Data Quality

11. Interest in assessing the quality of data derives from the objectives of complementing the GDDS with a consideration of the quality of the data being disseminated and of focusing more closely on the quality of the data that underpins the surveillance of countries’ economic policies. Against this background, STA has developed a tool to provide a structure and a common language to assess data quality. The DQAF comprises a generic framework4 and a set of dataset-specific frameworks. These frameworks cover five dimensions of data quality—assurances of integrity, methodological soundness, accuracy and reliability, serviceability, and accessibility—and a set of prerequisites.5

12. An assessment of five macroeconomic datasets (national accounts, CPI, government finance, monetary, and the balance of payments statistics)6 was conducted using the frame of reference provided by the dataset-specific DQAFs. The information resulting from the application of this framework to the Omani statistical system is presented below, following the structure of the July 2003 vintage of the DQAF. Conclusions are also presented in the form of standardized summary tables in which the assessment of data practices is made on a qualitative basis, using a four-part scale (Table 2 in this report and Tables 1–5 in the accompanying detailed assessments volume).

Table 2.

Oman: Data Quality Assessment Framework (July 2003)—Summary Presentation of Results

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Paragraph numbers refer to Section III, Summary Assessment of Data Quality, in the present document.

Authorities’ plans as of February 23,2004.

13. In summary, Oman’s macroeconomic statistics are broadly adequate for effective surveillance. Nevertheless, the mission identified shortcomings in some statistical practices that may detract from the accurate and timely analysis of economic and financial 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, relevance, and other quality management.

14. The Statistical Law (Royal Decree No. 29/2001, April 2001) provides a strong legal and institutional environment for the statistical activity in Oman. The law confers on the Directorate General of Economic Statistics (DGES) and Directorate General of Social Statistics of the MONE the responsibility of publishing statistics of national interest and authorizing statistical surveys. In addition, Article 4 of the law establishes that government units may collect and publish the statistical data in their areas of responsibility as approved in the annual statistical plan.

15. The Statistical Law creates the Statistical Advisory Committee,7 which is responsible for reviewing regulations under the law before MONE’s approval, and coordinating statistical activities in Oman. This includes (1) approval of annual plans prepared by the MONE and other agencies and (2) determining priorities for studies, surveys, and census according to the various government units’ needs, among others. The law also establishes that government units, private entities, and individuals are obligated to provide information on request to the DGES and/or other government agencies concerning issues under their respective jurisdictions. Penalties for noncompliance have been established; however, in practice, moral persuasion and a rigorous follow-up process are followed. The law establishes strong procedures for protecting confidentiality, including severe penalties for breach of confidentiality (see accompanying detailed assessments volume for details).

16. Resources available at the MONE for compiling national accounts and CPI statistics are adequate. Staff are well trained and motivated, and the number is sufficient for the program. Computing systems are modern and efficient, and the availability of a computer network allows for the seamless transfer of tasks among individuals. CPI compilation is fully automated from its initial capture on hand-held computers. Improvements and efficiency are constantly sought, using outside experts whenever necessary. The relevance of the national accounts and price statistics is assessed through regular meetings with major public sector users; however, there is no systemic process to solicit feedback from the private sector. The DGES has instituted procedures to focus on quality management. Staff are aware of the need to uphold quality. The DGES has recruited external experts to review organizational practices as part of an ongoing process to streamline procedures and improve efficiency.

17. The legal and institutional framework supports the compilation of fiscal data of government by the MOF through the Financial Law (Royal Decree 47/98, 1998). The law clearly sets out the responsibilities of the MOF and other ministries to record all transactions of government in the accounting system of government and to publish such results within a specified timeframe. Well-established institutional arrangements ensure that data sharing and coordination are adequate and prevent disclosure of confidential data.

18. Resources at the MOF are adequate to perform the ongoing tasks, although additional resources could facilitate additional development work. The staff are well trained for current needs with a high priority placed on continued in-house and external training. A computer network provides for all the hardware and software needs to facilitate an integrated financial management system. Financial needs are provided for within a five-year development plan. Strict legal requirements ensure the efficient use of resources. The relevance of fiscal data is illustrated by the MOF, line ministries, and other policymakers (including the CBO) who use these data while determining, monitoring, and evaluating fiscal policy. However, data needs of nongovernmental users are not determined. Quality management is well exercised by the MOF, including measures to control and audit all relevant processes.

19. The CBO engages in statistical work on monetary and balance of payments statistics under its legislative authority to gather data from financial institutions. The legal and institutional environment is largely set out in the Banking Law (Royal Decree No. 114/2000, December 2000), which provides the CBO with the authority to collect data from banks but does not explicitly mandate the compilation and publication of statistics. The Statistical Law additionally supports the CBO data collection process from the nonfinancial sector. The CBO has a tradition of compiling and disseminating monetary and balance of payments statistics as a public service. Reporting by banks is mandatory, and confidentiality is strongly protected under the Banking Law. Existing data-sharing arrangements with other government institutions are well-coordinated.

20. Resources at the CBO are adequate to compile monetary and balance of payments statistics. Staff are well trained and motivated, and computer resources are suitable for statistical needs. However, with the recent introduction of surveys for balance of payments and IIP data collection, and with more surveys planned for the coming years, the number of staff working in balance of payments statistics needs to be augmented. The CBO monitors the relevance of monetary statistics through meetings with bankers and media requests, although no regular feedback from nongovernmental users is obtained. In 2002, a Balance of Payments Committee (comprising government officials and one representative from the Chamber of Commerce and Industry) was established to review developments relevant for statistical and economic analysis. There are no regularly-scheduled consultations seeking the balance of payments data needs of other users. The CBO has well-established processes to focus on quality management, such as measures to monitor and review the quality of ongoing activities, and to seek outside expertise to guide the quality of its statistics.

Assurances of integrity

This dimension 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.

21. Professionalism is highly valued within the MONE. The DGES is responsible for producing the national accounts and the CPI and it is reportedly able to carry out these statistical functions without any interferences from any other government units. Staff are recruited and promoted purely on ability. A formal and continuous training program exists for the staff. Staff take appropriate corrective action in all cases of misinterpretation of the statistics. Transparency of the statistical system is promoted through the wide dissemination of information on the terms and conditions for compiling the statistics. Copies of the Statistical Law are provided to respondents (both in Arabic and English), and the relevant articles on the confidentiality of the statistics are cited in the correspondence. However, the extent of internal government access to statistics prior to their release to the public is not publicly identified (although prior access is acknowledged in the GDDS metadata). The DGES provides users with advance notice of impending changes to the methodology and source data before the revised estimates are published. Rules on staff behavior are in place and staff are fully aware of the need to uphold ethical standards. New staff are required to sign a statement to the effect that they will comply with the rules of the Statistical Law and of the civil service.

22. A high degree of professionalism is maintained within the MOF. Professionalism is actively promoted and supported through formal and on-the job training of staff and continued participation in seminars, courses, and workshops arranged by regional and international organizations. Processes and activities in the work place also promote a culture of professionalism through peer review and mentoring. Government statistics only cover government budgetary accounts. Transparency in the compilation of fiscal statistics is promoted by wide availability of the Financial Law and regulations related to the budgeting and planning process. The MOF issues financial circulars every year to spell out budgeting processes and the terms and conditions for compiling government accounts. These circulars are published in the government gazette. However, the extent of internal government access to statistics prior to their release to the public is not publicly identified (although prior access is acknowledged in the GDDS metadata). The maintenance of ethical standards is supported through the legal framework applicable to all government employees. Government employees are subject to a code of conduct. Sound management and cultural practices, as well as mentoring, ensure that staff are regularly reminded of the behavior expected of them.

23. Staff at the CBO maintain a high degree of professionalism. Statutory provisions in the Banking Law provide the legal basis for institutional independence in compiling statistics. Professionalism is actively promoted and supported within the organization. The recruitment and training process furthers professionalism. The CBO monitors media reports and responds to erroneous interpretations of statistics as needed. Transparency is fostered by wide availability of the Banking Law and the Statistical Law, but the extent of internal government access to statistics prior to their release to the public is not publicly identified (although prior access is acknowledged in the GDDS metadata). Data on monetary and credit aggregates are provided to the MONE for publication and for data production within the MONE. Apart from the detailed information available through the DSBB website, there is limited written information available to the public about the terms and conditions under which the statistical series are compiled and disseminated. Advance notice of major changes in methodology is not usually given. Clear and comprehensive ethical standards are set out in Staff Regulations (1995). The staff are also required to sign a “Declaration of Secrecy” when they join the CBO.

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 and sectorization, and basis for recording.

24. The national accounts generally follow the concepts and definitions of the System of National Accounts 1993 (1993 SNA) introduced in Oman in 1997. The scope of the statistics does not include all the accounts and tables considered by the International Secretariat Working Group on National Accounts as required for implementing the 1993 SNA. Accounts beyond the generation of income accounts and regular supply and use tables are compiled but not published. The production and assets boundaries are in accordance with the 1993 SNA where feasible. These boundaries exclude items with no major impact on the overall accounts or which measurement may be considered impractical. Internationally recommended classification systems are widely used, except for the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP). However, the national classification is fully compatible with the United Nations classification. The basis for recording accords with the recommendations of the 1993 SNA, with the exception of government transactions, recorded on a cash basis rather than on an accrual basis.

25. The CPI follows the concepts and definitions of international good practice. The scope of the CPI covers the consumption expenditures of all noninstitutional resident households, including the imputed expenditure on housing services of owner-occupied dwellings. The index for the whole country is only produced quarterly. Transactions use a national classification that maps to COICOP. The basis of recording fully conforms to international standards.

26. For the GFS, the concepts and definitions used for the compilation of the fiscal accounts of Oman’s civil ministries, embedded in the charts of accounts of these ministries, are broadly consistent with the guidelines of A Manual on Government Finance Statistics, 1986 (GFSM 1986). The scope of GFS only covers central government budgetary accounts and central government debt. This is a significant departure from international standards. The Omani pension funds are virtually excluded from the coverage of the GFS. Only government contributions to these pension funds are recorded in the GFS. The summary table of major GFS components is disseminated on a monthly and quarterly basis, but the full scope of detailed tables is presented at the time of the annual release of GFS data. The classification of transactions of the civil ministries broadly follows the international standard; however, the total expenditure of non-civil units is recorded as current expenditure without details. The fiscal accounts record grants as financing, lending as expenditure, and repayment as revenues. Nevertheless, when data are reported to the IMF, the transactions are reclassified according to GFSM 1986 guidelines. The sectorization of government units broadly follows international guidelines; however, there are major departures such as the inclusion in the central government budgetary accounts of municipalities and of gross transactions of several agencies that market goods and services on a large scale. As indicated by GFSM 1986, transactions are presented on a cash basis of recording and government debt data at face value. Although fiscal data are not presented in accordance with the gross/netting procedures indicated by the GFSM 1986, adjustments are made before the final release of GFS data in the GFS Yearbook.

27. The concepts and definitions of monetary statistics broadly conform to the guidelines of the MFSM. The scope is broadly in line with the MFSM, except that a small private specialized bank currently monitored by the authorities is not included in the monetary accounts. Classification and sectorization are mostly in line with MFSM guidelines. Nevertheless, the various pension fund deposits with the commercial banks are indistinguishably included within the private sector deposits; accrued interest on certain financial instruments is not included with the underlying instruments (i.e., certificates of deposits on the CBO’s and commercial banks’ balance sheets, deposits on the CBO balance sheet, and treasury bills held by the commercial banks on their balance sheets); and a sectoral breakdown of private sector deposits with commercial banks is not available. The basis for recording follows the MFSM, except that treasury bills are recorded at face value.

28. Concepts and definitions of the balance of payments statistics broadly conform to BPM5 (in 2000, data were revised back to 1996). The scope is generally consistent with international standards. However, gaps in coverage remain—the main gap involves financial transactions of the nonfinancial private sector. Classification and sectorization are generally consistent with internationally accepted standards, although some banking transactions are misclassified among the direct, portfolio, and other investment categories, and some balance of payments items need to be in line with BPM5 and the International Reserves and Foreign Currency Liquidity: Guidelines for a Data Template (Reserve Template). In most cases, the basis of recording for balance of payments transactions is at market prices. In general, transactions are recorded on an accrual basis; however, interest on public sector external debt is not recorded on an accrual 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.

29. The DGES derives the source data for national accounts estimates from a comprehensive data collection program comprising annual establishment surveys, administrative data, financial records of public corporations, and a recent household budget survey. The data cover most of the country’s economic activity, which is based principally on petroleum- and natural gas-related industries. Staff continuously update the business register using mainly information from administrative records. The data collection program covers all establishments engaged in petroleum activities and financial intermediation, as well as other large establishments as determined by industry-specific criteria. In addition, the Ministry of Commerce and Industry annually conducts a survey covering about 900 manufacturing establishments. The source data are timely, as the DGES has instituted a rigorous follow-up program. The assessment of the source data reflects international good practices. Staff rigorously identify and track errors in the field as well as during the processing of the data. They cross-check the data from surveys against data from administrative sources for consistency. The statistical techniques are generally satisfactory. The estimates are derived at a sufficient level of detail, and the double-deflation method is widely used to derive the constant price estimates. However, the base year (1988) is outdated. Further, final consumption expenditure is derived as a residual. Estimates are not adjusted for holding gains or losses accruing on inventories. The assessment and validation of statistical outputs are not conducted routinely and systematically. A supply and use framework is not used to investigate discrepancies; and the existence or extent of possible bias in the estimates is not known. The DGES does not conduct formal revision studies but assesses the differences between the initial estimates and the final estimates on an ad hoc basis.

30. DGES staff collect the weights and price source data for the CPI from comprehensive surveys. However, the weights obtained from the 1990/91 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES) are considered to be out of date. A comprehensive update of the items for which prices are collected was undertaken in 1995, but the weights were not changed. Assessment of source data is impressive with comprehensive computerized and manual checks of all source data. The results are incorporated into the manual for price collectors. In general, statistical techniques are sound, but improvements could be made in some specific areas related to index construction. The assessment and validation of the outlet and price samples are of a high quality. Revision studies are undertaken if new weights are introduced. The prices in the CPI are not normally revised.

31. The MOF obtains source data for the GFS on Ministries and units from comprehensive and fully electronic and hard copy administrative records. All source data are received timely. The regular and continuous assessment of source data was automated in the accounting system of government with additional controls mandated by the audit laws and regular reconciliation practices. Statistical techniques employed in the compilation of fiscal data are, to a large extent, automated and dependent solely on actual records. Strict legal requirements and well-established management practices have led to continued assessment and validation of intermediate data and statistical outputs. Staff investigate any statistical discrepancies in the output and introduce corrective measures to eliminate recurrence of the discrepancy. The well-documented audit trail serves as revision studies. Audit reports document the nature of any discrepancies discovered. All government entities are required to document the result of their internal investigation, remedial steps, and measures taken to avoid a reoccurrence of the contravention.

32. The source data for monetary statistics are the monthly balance sheet of the CBO and the individual monthly returns of the commercial banks. In general, the source data provide sufficient detail to classify sectors and instruments in line with the MFSM, but a detailed sectoral breakdown of private sector deposits with the commercial banks is not available. The source data are timely. Assessment of source data is generally sound. CBO staff cross-check data submitted by the commercial banks across different returns and changes over time. For any errors and out-of-trend changes, staff immediately contact the commercial banks for explanation and/or for revised data. Statistical techniques are sound, and electronic compilation procedures minimize compilation errors. The intermediate data are assessed and validated against data from other returns obtained for other departments. There are no formal revision studies; however, sources of errors are investigated on an ad hoc basis. Data are considered final when first released.

33. Source data for balance of payments statistics are largely based on administrative data sources, although surveys were introduced recently. Existing sources provide reasonable, though not sufficient, coverage to compile comprehensive balance of payments statistics; the main gap involves financial transactions of the nonfinancial private sector. A need exists to expand the data sources, and efforts are underway to accomplish this. The data collection programs provide for the timely receipt of data. Assessment of source data is routinely conducted. Generally, data compilation employs sound statistical techniques; however, some of the benchmarks and measures taken to adjust the source data are outdated. Assessment and validation of intermediate data and statistical outputs against other independent data sources are carried out where applicable. The behavior of series is crosschecked with related series/indicators for statistical discrepancies when possible. Revision studies are generally not conducted because data come mostly from administrative sources that rarely get revised.

Serviceability

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

34. The periodicity and timeliness of the national accounts statistics are in line with the recommendations of the GDDS. Consistent time series are available from 1980 onward. The series were revised with the introduction of the 1993 SNA in 1997. The national accounts statistics are reconcilable with other major datasets. The revisions policy is based on a predetermined, but not publicized, cycle. When necessary, users are informed of the nature of major revisions and their impact on the estimates. The publications do not identify the data as being preliminary or revised; only data first released are identified.

35. The periodicity of the CPI is not fully in line with the recommendations of the GDDS. The index for Muscat is produced monthly using weights for Muscat. However, the index that also covers other cities, using weights for the whole country, is only produced quarterly, although it is published within two months, in conformity with the GDDS recommendations. The CPI is consistent within the dataset, over time, and reconcilable with other statistical frameworks. A consistent time series is available from 1987 onward. The revision policy implies that revisions are made when new weights based on the HIES results become available. Revisions to the previous month can occasionally occur when an administrative source reports a back-dated price changes. Whenever this happens, the revision is clearly identified in the publication.

36. Regarding the GFS, the periodicity and timeliness of data on central government budgetary operations follow the GDDS recommendations. Central government debt data are compiled monthly, exceeding the periodicity recommended by the GDDS, but data are not disseminated to the public. The authorities rely on the release of the GFS Yearbook for the dissemination of central government debt data. The consistency of the GFS is good both internally as well as over time. A consistent time series is available from 1988 onward. Although the GFS is consistent with most other datasets, discrepancies in the financing between GFS and monetary statistics are kept under review. The revision policy and practice are primarily determined by the internal and external controls mandated by the legal framework. Revisions are affected after audits have been performed. All annual data clearly identify preliminary and final data. However, CBO publications that reproduce some fiscal statistics do not clearly identify revised data. Audit reports are not made public.

37. The periodicity and timeliness of monetary statistics are in line with the GDDS recommendations. Monetary statistics are consistent within the dataset. The CBO’s and commercial banks’ records on liabilities to, and claims on, each other, respectively, are consistent. The monetary statistics are consistent over time, with some aggregate series available from 1976. Although monetary statistics are consistent with balance of payments statistics, there are some differences between changes in the banking system’s net claims on the central government (as in monetary statistics) and bank financing of central government (as in the GFS). The CBO and MOF are working toward reducing these differences. Revisions to monetary statistics are rare and generally small. These revisions are indicated by footnotes when the data are published.

38. Periodicity and timeliness of comprehensive balance of payments data are in line with the GDDS recommendations. Quarterly balance of payments statistics, an encouraged item under the GDDS, are produced for internal purposes as input into GDP, but are not disseminated. The balance of payments statistics are largely consistent within the dataset, with other datasets, and over time. Consistent time series are available on the BPM5 basis since 1996. The revision policy and practice have not been made public because primary administrative sources are rarely revised. Currently, revised data are not clearly identified.

Accessibility

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

39. The national accounts data are readily accessible in various publications and on the MONE website in both Arabic and English. The MONE disseminates estimates at various levels of detail depending on the publication format. Longer time series are available on request. The MONE’s annual National Accounts Bulletin (NAB) includes abrief analysis of recent economic developments. The statistics are not released according to a preannounced schedule, but regular users are aware of the general timing of release because this has remained stable from one period to the other. Metadata are available at the IMF’s DSBB website, although not linked to national websites. The NAB includes notes on the main concepts and data sources. Assistance to users may be hampered by the lack of contact information because the publications do not identify specific contact points.

40. The CPI data are readily accessible. Data are not published on a preannounced schedule, but the MONE’s Monthly Statistical Bulletin is always released at the same time each month. The MONE can provide additional breakdowns on request. Currently, metadata are only available on the DSBB website. Assistance to users is provided through a general contact point for statistics.

41. Although the MOF presents data on the fiscal accounts of government clearly, data accessibility to the GFS could be improved in a number of aspects. Government debt data are only disseminated in the GFS Yearbook. The MOF currently disseminates only the audited annual accounts of government, while the CBO and the MONE disseminate monthly and quarterly data in their publications. The MOF does not provide advance notice of release of data. Although metadata accessibility is facilitated by the summary methodologies available on the IMF’s DSBB website, no cross-reference to this website or a hyperlink is provided in national websites. Assistance to users, such as contact points for queries on data or information on the availability of MOF publications, is not publicized.

42. In monetary statistics, overall data accessibility is reduced by the absence of detailed data and the difficulty to access longer time series. However, the CBO releases data simultaneously to all users on a preannounced schedule, with the exception of data on combined balance sheet positions of commercial banks for major aggregates provided to commercial banks before the data are disseminated to the public. According to the authorities, the existing practice helps each commercial bank assess its relative position within the banking system in a timely manner. Nonpublished nonconfidential data are available to users, but this is not publicized. Brief metadata are available on the website. The GDDS metadata are posted on the IMF’s DSBB website, but are not hyperlinked from the CBO website. Assistance to users is available on request. Specific contact information for monetary statistics is provided on the CBO website, but not in the CBO’s hard copy publication.

43. Accessibility of balance of payments statistics is largely adequate. The CBO disseminates data clearly in its Annual Report, along with charts, tables, and analysis on current-period developments. More comprehensive historical time series back to 1980 are available on request. Currently, no electronic database is maintained for users. A preannounced schedule for release is posted on the CBO website, although no precise release dates are identified. The actual release may not be according to the schedule. The CBO makes annual balance of payments statistics available to all users at the same time, although government external debt stock data are only available through IMF publications. To the extent possible, staff make the statistics, not routinely disseminated, available to users upon request. Metadata accessibility is provided through the IMF’s DSBB website; however, no hyperlink from the CBO website is provided. Personal contact is the preferred way to provide assistance to users of statistics, although specific contact point information for balance of payments is not available. Publications of the CBO are available on the CBO website.

IV. Staff’s Recommendations

44. Based on the data quality assessment, discussions with the authorities, and user feedback,8 the following actions are proposed to further increase Oman’s adherence to international statistical standards and to enhance the analytical usefulness of macroeconomic data. These recommendations build upon the authorities’ ongoing plans for improvement.9

Cross-cutting Recommendations

High priority

  • Undertake a review of statistical dissemination policies and practices addressing the following issues: (1) establish and disseminate advance release calendars with precise release dates for all statistics; (2) release data simultaneously to all users; (3) publicize the extent of internal government access to the data prior to their release; (4) publicize the availability of unpublished data and metadata; (5) provide users of official statistics more detailed contact information for each dataset; (6) disseminate longer time series when available; and (7) include a brief data analysis in statistical releases.

  • Extend the dissemination of documentation on concepts and methodology by (1) preparing methodological publications for major datasets, (2) continuing updating and enhancing GDDS metadata on the DSBB website, and (3) linking the GDDS metadata to national websites and/or provide other means for easy access to domestic users of data.

  • Implement measures to improve the usefulness of statistics, including (1) extending regular consultations on user needs to nongovernmental data users (through advisory committees, formal meetings, and/or users’ surveys), and (2) giving advance notice of planned major methodological changes.

Other key recommendations

  • Make the revision policy of all institutions known to the public, identify revised data as such in publications, and conduct revision studies more regularly and make them available to the public.

  • Make available—both in hardcopy and national websites—the Banking Law, the Financial Law, the Statistical Law, and any other legal documents related to the institutional responsibility and the terms and conditions under which statistics are compiled and disseminated.

National Accounts

High priority

  • Pursue efforts to prepare and disseminate revised national accounts estimates on a new base year (2000) promptly, and develop concrete plans for the next rebasing exercise (minimum frequency of five years).

  • Continue the process of developing independent estimates of private final consumption expenditure.

  • Conduct valuation adjustments to the estimates of inventories, particularly inventories of petroleum products.

  • Pursue efforts to compile regular (annual or five yearly) supply and use tables.

  • Develop income accounts and the capital account for the total economy.

Consumer Price Index

High priority

  • Undertake a full HIES on a regular basis and at least every five years.

  • Use a group index to impute a price change in all cases when a replacement item has to be introduced without an overlap price.

  • Adjust each set of weights to reflect price movements between them and the reference year.

  • Calculate elementary level indices as the ratio of average prices; and apply this to all past periods.

  • Pursue work toward completion of the producer price index, and, once produced, start wide dissemination according to the GDDS recommendations.

Government Finance Statistics

High priority

  • Disseminate annual (quarterly encouraged) data on the outstanding debt and debt guarantees of government within the timeliness recommended by the GDDS and with sufficient details as proposed by the GFSM 1986.

  • Extend the scope of government accounts in accordance with the appropriate GFS guidelines.

Other key recommendations

  • Review whether the exclusion of pension funds from the GFS is in accordance with the GFS guidelines.

  • Continue to reconcile the differences between the GFS and monetary statistics.

  • Continue with the investigation into modernizing government accounting systems.

  • Develop a concrete migration plan for implementation of the GFSM 2001.

  • Improve the classification and sectorization of the government account with the view to

    • (1) classifying lending and repayments as financing, rather than as income/expenditures,

    • (2) presenting data on municipalities separately, and (3) presenting data on market producers separately.

  • Compile a separate set of accounts for the public nonfinancial and financial entities with a view to having consolidated public sector accounts available.

Monetary Statistics

High priority

  • Adopt the full scheme of sectorization of institutional units and classification of financial instruments as recommended in the MFSM.

  • Improve the presentation of the sectoral balance sheets of the CBO and commercial banks to facilitate easy derivation of their analytical presentations and monetary survey.

  • Reclassify the deposits of pension funds from the category of private sector deposits to the deposits of other financial corporations (financial institutions other than banks). Based on the review of the treatment of pension funds in the GFS, reassess their classification in monetary statistics.

  • Value treasury bills at market prices or fair values.

  • Include accrued interest with underlying instruments for certificates of deposits in the balance sheets of the CBO and commercial banks, deposits on the CBO balance sheet, and treasury bills held by the commercial banks on their balance sheets.

Other key recommendations

  • Continue to reconcile the differences between monetary statistics and the GFS.

  • Continue to monitor one private specialized bank with a view to including the bank in the coverage of monetary statistics.

  • Collect and disseminate the sectoral breakdown of resident private sector deposits in the commercial bank balance sheets.

Balance of Payments

High priority

  • Provide additional staff resources to undertake tasks associated with the recent introduction of surveys to improve balance of payments coverage and collect stock data.

  • Update several indicators and benchmarks used in estimating components of the balance of payments and revise some methodologies for deriving estimates.

  • Continue with the recent initiative to collect data on transactions of the nonfinancial private sector and other financial data.

  • Continue developing surveys as a data source.

  • Expand accrual accounting to the recording of interest on public sector external debt.

Other key recommendations

  • Continue with initiative underway to compile IIP and external debt statistics.

  • Keep in mind that the classification of stocks in the forthcoming IIP will need to be consistent with flows in the balance of payments statistics and in accordance with BPM5 and the Reserve Template.

  • Move toward disseminating quarterly balance of payments data as soon as practicable.

1

With assistance of the authorities, an informal survey was conducted among government agencies, banks, nonbank enterprises, training institutes, embassies, and regional international institutions. The results of the survey are presented in Appendix III of the accompanying document presenting the detailed assessments.

2

A detailed description of the GDDS can be found at http://www.dsbb.imf.org.

3

The mission team was headed by Mr. Eduardo Valdivia-Velarde and included Mr. Thomas Alexander, Ms. Colleen Cardillo, Mr. Subramanian Sriram (all STA), Mr. David Hughes and Mrs. Sagé de Clerck (experts), and Ms. Christian Dimaandal (STA-Assistant).

4

Information on the DQAF can be found at the IMF’s website on the “Data Quality Reference Site” (http://dsbb.imf.org/Applications/web/dqrs/dqrshome/").

5

The Generic Framework is shown in Appendix II of the accompanying detailed assessments volume to this report.

6

The producer price index is not part of the mission’s assessment because the index is not currently disseminated, although it is at an advanced stage of development.

7

The committee is headed by the Secretary General of the MONE and includes the CBO’s Executive President, eight Under-Secretaries of relevant ministries, and representatives from the Omani Royal Police and the Sultan Qaboos University.

8

See Appendix III of the accompanying detailed assessments volume for summary of results of the data users’ survey.

9

Some of the recommendations are to “pursue” or “continue”; the intent is to note-in line with taking a snapshot of the data disseminated at the time of the mission-that an area would be the subject of recommendation, but the work is already underway in the dataproducing agency.