Albania: Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes—Data Module, Response by the Authorities, and Detailed Assessments Using the Data Quality Assessment Framework

Albania was among the first countries to participate in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board. Its metadata have been used as a model by other countries participating in the GDDS. Recommendations to increase further Albania’s adherence to internationally accepted statistical practices, and enhance the analytical usefulness of its statistics include additional staff resources, expanding and improving surveys, implementing measures to minimize errors in commercial banks’ reporting, and to speed up processes in addressing these errors.


Albania was among the first countries to participate in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board. Its metadata have been used as a model by other countries participating in the GDDS. Recommendations to increase further Albania’s adherence to internationally accepted statistical practices, and enhance the analytical usefulness of its statistics include additional staff resources, expanding and improving surveys, implementing measures to minimize errors in commercial banks’ reporting, and to speed up processes in addressing these errors.

I. Overall Assessment

1. Albania was among the first countries to participate in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS), posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) on May 22, 2000. Its metadata have been used as a model by other countries participating in the GDDS. Albania meets all of the GDDS recommendations for coverage, periodicity, and timeliness, with the exception of the timeliness of national accounts statistics and the producer price index (PPI). In a number of data categories (consumer price index (CPI), general and central government operations, analytical accounts of the central bank, and balance of payments), the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness have reached the requirements of the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS). Appendix I provides an overview of Albania’s dissemination practices compared to the GDDS.

2. Albania was also one of the first countries to participate in piloting the data module for the Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—prepared in 1999 and posted on the IMF website in May 2000. This March 2006 ROSC is a reassessment based on the subsequently developed Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF), dating from July 2003, which is the IMF’s instrument for assessing national statistical systems. This data module (reassessment) ROSC contains the following main conclusions. Albania’s statistical system has made significant progress in adopting international statistical standards despite acute resource constraints. The statistical agencies covered in this report—the Institute of Statistics (INSTAT), the Ministry of Finance (MoF), and the Bank of Albania (BoA)—have availed themselves of substantial technical assistance and staff training provided by numerous donors, including the IMF. Albania’s official statistical agencies demonstrate strong and sustained commitment to pursuing plans and programs to further upgrade statistics in response to greater challenges posed by a rapidly evolving economy and the desire of the Albanian authorities to (i) subscribe to the SDDS; ii) adopt an inflation targeting regime; and iii) advance national aspirations to join the European Union. In several areas, Albania’s macroeconomic statistics are adequate to conduct effective surveillance. Exceptions are national accounts, initiated only in 2000, and to a certain extent balance of payments statistics.

3. Owing to severe resource constraints at INSTAT, the improvement in the national accounts has been slower relative to other datasets and has barely kept pace with the increasing data needs for policymaking. INSTAT generally has made effective use of its limited resources but needs adequate and sustained financing to develop and maintain a pool of qualified staff and to undertake data collection programs vital for the compilation of methodologically sound, accurate, and timely national accounts statistics.

4. In applying the IMF’s DQAF, the remainder of this section presents the mission’s main conclusions at the level of the DQAF’s quality dimensions, by agency for the first two dimensions and across datasets for the remaining four. Section II provides a summary assessment by agency and dataset based on a four-part scale. This is followed by staff recommendations in Section III. The authorities’ response to this report and a volume of detailed assessments are presented in separate documents.

5. Prerequisites of quality and Assurances of integrity. Institutional responsibility for the compilation and dissemination of the datasets covered in this report is clearly defined by the legal framework and established practices under which INSTAT, the MoF, and the BoA operate. These agencies—within their respective resource envelopes—endeavor to consult with data users and are active in organizing and/or participating in statistical meetings and seminars held in Albania and abroad. All agencies demonstrate notably high levels of data quality awareness, professionalism, transparency, and ethical standards.

  • The legal framework for INSTAT as an independent government agency under the Council of Ministers has recently been strengthened with the adoption in 2004 of the Law On Official Statistics, which contains key elements of the United Nations’ Fundamental Principles of Official Statistics. The law redefines the role of the Statistics Council as INSTAT’s governing body; previously it only had an advisory function. The composition and selection of its members, and of the Director General of INSTAT, are specified in separate decisions of the Council of Ministers of 2005 and 2003, respectively. These provisions governed the recent appointments of the members of the Statistics Council and the new Director General for INSTAT. Weaknesses in data sharing and coordination are expected to be addressed with the signing of memorandums of understanding with other major data-producing agencies. Confidentiality of respondents’ data is protected in the law and in practice. INSTAT’s staff, working facilities, information technology, and financing resources are grossly inadequate to undertake its mandate. INSTAT encourages staff to focus on the efficient use of resources.

  • The Organic Budget Law and the Guidelines on State Budget Performance clearly mandate the responsibility of the MoF for compiling and disseminating government finance statistics (GFS). These require compliance with reporting requirements and data confidentiality. Resources are inadequate to undertake current and planned statistical programs needed to improve monitoring of fiscal policy. The internal reorganization of functions at the MoF in November 2005 should be closely monitored to ensure that expected outputs and efficiencies in discharging duties are actually achieved.

  • The BoA is, by tradition and by virtue of its authority to supervise the banking system, responsible for compiling and disseminating monetary statistics, although the BoA law does not specifically spell out this statistical mandate. The BoA has a statutory mandate for compiling balance of payments statistics, but effectiveness in this area is constrained because it has enforcement authority only over banks. Nonbank reporters of data are not subject to fines or other enforcement sanctions. Confidentiality of individual data is rigorously observed by the BoA in practice and through the BoA law, the Code of Ethics of the Bank of Albania, and the Regulation for Transparency and Confidentiality in the Bank of Albania. However, a provision in the BoA law (Article 58 (2)), stating that it may disclose individual reporters’ data to tax authorities, should be reviewed and clarified so as not to cast doubt among data reporters and users on the BoA’s strict adherence to data confidentiality. Staff resources are not adequate for balance of payments statistics. Staff resources for monetary statistics are adequate for current responsibilities but insufficient for the compilation of other financial statistics included in the BoA’s short-term plans for improvement. Additional resources are needed for information technology support and integrated database development to further enhance the efficiency of statistical processes at the BoA.

6. Methodological soundness. Albanian macroeconomic statistics follow internationally accepted standards and guidelines on concepts and definitions. Although a formal “migration path” to the GFSM 2001 has not been formally articulated, several coordinated technical actions at the MoF—including the design and implementation of an accrual-compatible database infrastructure—are well advanced. Improvements could be made in expanding the scope of national accounts statistics and of the CPI. All datasets use adequate classification and sectorization. The basis for recording is appropriate for the PPI and for the GFS vis-à-vis the Government Finance Statistics Manual 1986 (GFSM 1986), but international standards are not fully applied in the other datasets.

7. Accuracy and reliability. Except for monetary statistics, source data have shortcomings in the datasets; they are particularly weak for national accounts and balance of payments statistics, which rely on both administrative records and surveys. Assessment of source data for both the CPI and PPI, as well as monetary statistics, could be strengthened. Deficiencies in statistical techniques were observed in all datasets except GFS. The accuracy of estimates for national accounts is undermined by unusually weak assumptions and limited cross-checks of various data sources, which cast doubt on the plausibility of the revised national accounts data released in November 2005. Estimation of construction activity of the nonobserved economy is based too heavily on very narrow labor input source data without sufficient cross-checking with other data inputs on construction to assess reasonableness of the estimates. National accounts and PPI are not validated against other statistics, and errors have been overlooked in the data validation process for balance of payments. The CPI, GFS, and monetary statistics have sound procedures for the assessment and validation of intermediate data and statistical outputs. Revision studies for national accounts statistics should be developed further.

8. Serviceability. The periodicity and timeliness of disseminated statistics, except for national accounts and the PPI, meet GDDS recommendations. All datasets rated favorably in terms of consistency, except for national accounts, where the absence of independent estimates for the expenditure approach prevents consistency check with the production approach estimates. Information on the revision policy and practice for GFS should be made known to the public. The revision policy for national accounts should be consistently applied, and the status of the data clearly indicated on all releases.

9. Accessibility. All datasets, except for national accounts, are readily accessible—an observation that is confirmed by the results of a survey of users of Albanian statistics. Metadata accessibility for the CPI and PPI could be enhanced by the dissemination of updated methodological guides in Albanian and English. Users are not clearly informed on where and how to access the latest data on national accounts.

II. Assessment by Agency and Dataset

Assessments of the quality of six macroeconomic datasets—national accounts, CPI, PPI, government finance, monetary, and balance of payments statistics—were conducted using the DQAF. In this section, the results are presented at the level of the DQAF elements and using a four-point rating scale (Table 1). Assessments of the prerequisites of data quality and the assurances of integrity (Dimensions “0” and “1” of the DQAF) are presented in Tables 2ac. For each dataset, the assessment of methodological soundness, accuracy and reliability, serviceability, and accessibility (Dimensions “2” to “5” of the DQAF) are shown in Tables 3af.

Table 1.

Albania: Data Quality Assessment Framework July 2003—Summary Results

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Practice observed: current practices generally in observance meet or achieve the objectives of DQAF internationally accepted statistical practices without any significant deficiencies.Practice largely observed: some departures, but these are not seen as sufficient to raise doubts about the authorities’ ability to observe the DQAF practices. Practice largely not observed: significant departures and the authorities will need to take significant action to achieve observance. Practice not observed: most DQAF practices are not met. Not applicable: used only exceptionally when statistical practices do not apply to a country’s circumstances.
Table 2a.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 0 and 1—Institute of Statistics

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Table 2b.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 0 and 1—Ministry of Finance

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Table 2c.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 0 and 1—Bank of Albania

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Table 3a.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 2 to 5—National Accounts

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Table 3b.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 2 to 5—Consumer Price Index

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Table 3c.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 2 to 5—Producer Price Index

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Table 3d.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 2 to 5—Government Finance Statistics

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Table 3e.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 2 to 5—Monetary Statistics

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Table 3f.

Albania: Assessment of Data Quality—Dimensions 2 to 5—Balance of Payments Statistics

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III. Staff’s Recommendations

10. Based on the review of Albania’s statistical practices, discussions with the data-producing agencies, and responses from data users (see Appendix III of the Detailed Assessments volume), the mission has a set of recommendations. They are designed to increase further Albania’s adherence to internationally accepted statistical practices and would, in the mission’s view, enhance the analytical usefulness of Albania’s statistics. Some additional technical suggestions are included in the Detailed Assessments volume.

Cross-cutting Recommendations

  • Allocate additional staff resources for the current and planned macroeconomic statistics compilation and dissemination programs, including for information technology support.

  • Maintain a stable complement of trained professional staff through, among other methods, upgrading the status of INSTAT staff in the hierarchy of the government civil service and upgrading office facilities in all the data-producing agencies. Continue emphasizing staff training and development.

  • Increase financial resources for improving source data, prioritizing the adequate capture of the nonobserved economy and remittances, which are particularly important in the Albanian economy.2

  • Sign and implement the memorandums of understanding between data-producing agencies on the modalities of data sharing (e.g., identification of data to be shared, timetable, responsible unit within the agency, etc.).

  • Implement an electronic (online) reporting system for banks and other financial institutions to enhance the efficiency of monetary and balance of payments statistics compilation processes. Introduce a database-driven compilation system for monetary and balance of payments statistics.

National Accounts

  • Expand and improve surveys, e.g., labor force survey and country-wide HBS.

  • Expand the scope of annual national accounts to include the income account, the capital account, and the rest of the world accounts as intended in INSTAT’s Strategic Plan.

  • For the expenditure approach, rationalize the statistical technique to maximize the use of existing source data. For years when household final consumption cannot be separately estimated, derive a single balancing item on the expenditure side combining household final consumption, changes in inventories, and the statistical discrepancies.

  • Use more extensive data sources to cross-check validity of intermediate data. Estimates of construction activity (currently based on limited labor input data) should be assessed for consistency with other construction input and productivity estimates.

  • Include nondeductible VAT in the valuation of intermediate consumption to conform to the 1993 SNA’s concept of purchasers’ price.

  • Apply the revision policy consistently. Identify status of disseminated GDP (e.g., preliminary, revised, and final) in all releases.

  • Update the advance release calendar to reflect the recently adopted revision policy.

  • Identify clearly where users can obtain the official national accounts data (e.g., name of publication or a dedicated page on the INSTAT website).

  • Improve the timeliness of the data through greater use of the INSTAT website for the first dissemination of the data.

Consumer and Producer Price Indices

  • Update the weights as soon as possible.

  • Publish the PPI every month.

  • Introduce checks on the prices reported by enumerators.

  • Replace nonrespondents to the HBS with similar households (CPI); replace enterprises that go out of business (PPI).

  • Include new items into the CPI as they become significant.

  • When an enterprise stops producing an item in the PPI, replace it with another product.

  • Deduct sales from purchases of secondhand goods when deriving the CPI weights.

  • Impute missing prices using the change in the average price for related products (PPI).

  • Validate the PPI results against all other available price data.

  • Update the methodological guides and publish them in Albanian and English.

Government Finance Statistics

  • Accelerate work aimed at formally adopting the GFSM 2001-based reporting format, including high-frequency data (monthly cash flow and quarterly government operations data) as well as quarterly nonfinancial public sector debt.

  • Improve source data coverage for external donor financed projects.

  • In the context of the development and implementation of the new Oracle-based IT infrastructure, construct and document as soon as feasible a national chart of accounts for all general government subsectors aligned with GFSM 2001 classifications.

  • Publicize revisions (within or outside any revision cycle) in, for instance, Fiscal Statistics of Government or the freely accessible database maintained on the MoF website.

Monetary Statistics

  • Apply fully the MFSM’s recommendations on market valuation and accrual accounting (e.g., use market prices to value securities held by banks for investment; adopt accrual accounting for the SLAs).

  • Implement measures to minimize errors in commercial banks’ reporting and to speed up processes in addressing these errors.

  • When delayed reporting by commercial banks occurs, carry forward the balance sheet for the previous month of the late reporting bank and make users aware of this technique. These data should be denoted as provisional.

Balance of Payments Statistics

  • Conduct more frequent (e.g., quarterly) surveys on remittances; survey freight charges; and survey tourist expenditures biannually.

  • Re-estimate the split of total “remittances” between compensation of employees and workers’ remittances and explore the use of other data sources (e.g., Living Standard Measurement Survey) to check the plausibility of the estimates.

  • Tighten procedures on data quality control and cross-checks, particularly in the estimation of remittances.

  • Strengthen the BoA law to provide for the sanctions—including fines—needed to mandate survey responses from nonbank reporters, to inspect the financial accounts of firms, and to prohibit the provision of individual reporters’ data to tax authorities.

  • Implement the revised reporting form for insurance services.

  • Obtain the public debt service schedule from the MoF and record interest on an accrual basis.

  • Require quarterly reporting by significant firms of transactions in direct investment equity, debt, and reinvested earnings; in portfolio equity and debt; and in trade credit.

  • Estimate purchases of land and construction financed by unidentified foreign exchange inflows.

Appendix I

Albania: Practices Compared to the GDDS Coverage Periodicity, and Timeliness of Data

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Indicates that the coverage, periodicity, and timeliness currently meet SDDS requirements.

Italics indicate encouraged categories.

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


In the Albanian context, remittances refer to the BPM5’s compensation of employees and workers remittances.