Botswana: Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—Data Module Response by the Authorities

The Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—Data Module provides an assessment of Botswana’s macroeconomic statistics against the recommendations of the General Data Dissemination System, complemented by an assessment of data quality based on the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework, July 2003. It reveals that there has been a strengthening of the relevance of the data, the transparency of statistical policies and practices, and the accessibility of data and metadata. Staff of statistical agencies also exhibits a high level of professionalism and ethical standards.


The Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—Data Module provides an assessment of Botswana’s macroeconomic statistics against the recommendations of the General Data Dissemination System, complemented by an assessment of data quality based on the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework, July 2003. It reveals that there has been a strengthening of the relevance of the data, the transparency of statistical policies and practices, and the accessibility of data and metadata. Staff of statistical agencies also exhibits a high level of professionalism and ethical standards.

I. Overview

The authorities (the Bank of Botswana (BoB) and the Ministry of Finance and Development Planning (MFDP), including the Central Statistics Office (CSO)) very much welcome the IMF’s data ROSC report on Botswana. This provides an invaluable update on progress that has been made since the original data ROSC mission in October 2001, and the country is proud to have been among the first countries chosen for such a follow-up assessment.

The Botswana authorities are in basic agreement with the content of the report. It is clear that in some areas, considerable progress has been made to improve both production and, in particular, dissemination of official statistics in Botswana. The greater coordination between the statistics-producing agencies that has been developed since the 2001 ROSC mission has clearly paid off in many instances. Nevertheless, standards in other respects are less than would be desired. In key respects, there remains much work to be done if Botswana is to progress toward the standards required by the SDDS, and the authorities take note of the report’s observation that some additional investment of resources is required.

II. Response To Recommendations

Cross-cutting recommendations

  • Strengthen cooperation between the MFDP, CSO, BoB, and other agencies to ensure timely compilation and exchange of data. The BoB should enjoy access to customs data, and the CSO should document what processing is carried out on trade data.

    The high-level Statistics Producers Committee (SPC) that was established following the 2001 ROSC has worked well. There remains further scope for maximizing the potential for cooperation at the technical level. The BoB will take up the issue of direct access to customs data through the MFDP while the CSO will include additional material on methodology on its website.

  • Monitor the consistency of the main macroeconomic datasets and reconcile differences regularly.

    The agencies will look at issues of methodological inconsistencies (such as the treatment of SACU revenues in the balance of payments and national accounts) as a matter of priority. There is scope to develop regular cross-checks between datasets to improve accuracy.

  • Give more emphasis to timeliness by using and disseminating more preliminary data.

    The importance of the trade-off between timeliness and accuracy is acknowledged. It is also recognized that there may be areas where timeliness can be improved without compromising accuracy. However, current practices are guided by well-established policies and these will need to be subject to high-level review before changes can be implemented.

  • Establish a comprehensive list of institutional units consistent with the 1993 SNA sectorization to be applied consistently across all datasets.

    The recommendation is accepted, although the modalities, including possible requirements for technical assistance, have still to be considered.

  • Establish and publicize direct links between the agencies’ websites and the DSBB to facilitate access to metadata. Keep metadata up to date.

    All agencies are committed to improving the relevant website links, including access to metadata, although in some cases technical constraints with website development have slowed. The existing policy is for metadata to be updated annually.

  • Support greater use of preliminary data by formalizing revision policies and implementing regular revision cycles.

    The recommendation is accepted and is already being implemented. For example, the BoB now includes relevant information in the monthly Botswana Financial Statistics (BFS) publication.

  • Maintain a current Business Register.

    The ongoing enterprise census will bring the register up to date. The necessary measures to maintain the register will be identified. The BoB will share with the CSO any changes made to the coverage of the annual balance of payments survey.

National accounts

  • Increase the number of staff working on national accounts.

    The CSO is doing and will continue to do all it can to increase the number of staff in the National Accounts Unit. As of March 2007, the number of professional staff in the Unit was increased by one. However, it should be appreciated that the CSO is affected by government financial and resource constraints. (Priority: medium term)

  • Document the methodology used to derive the 1994/95 benchmark estimates.

    The CSO appreciates the necessity of this recommendation. Therefore, although no documentation has yet been produced, the department is committed to working on it. Currently, the CSO is conducting the Annual Economic Survey. Data from the survey will be used to establish updated benchmark estimates. (Priority: short term)

  • Undertake comprehensive surveys of enterprise at least every few years.

    The CSO is currently conducting an Annual Economic Survey (AES) and the plan is to have the survey carried out every year. (Priority: short term)

  • Introduce estimates for informal activities.

    The point is noted; the CSO currently is conducting an Informal Sector Survey, and once data become available this recommendation will be implemented, provided that the CSO is able to obtain relevant technical support. (Priority: medium term)

  • Bring classification and sectorization into line with the 1993 SNA.

    Classification/sectorization systems currently used are consistent with internationally accepted standards and guidelines. However, the CSO sees the need to classify and break down sectors according to the 1993 SNA. (Priority: short term)

  • Update the base year for the volume figures for GDP at least every five years.

    The need for the action is noted. Plans are under way to rebase national accounts estimates to a more current base year, after which the CSO will consider implementing the recommendation. (Priority: medium term)

Consumer price index

  • Include owner-occupied housing in the CPI.

    The CSO will need to do thorough investigations on this, including stakeholder consultations. Even if agreed, this is not attainable in the short or medium term.

  • Improve the overall quality adjustment techniques.

    The recommendation is accepted.

Wholesale price index

The CSO agrees to all the recommendations regarding the WPI and will take them on board within the medium term.

Government finance statistics

  • Compile and disseminate GFS for extrabudgetary institutions, consolidated central government, and consolidated general government, at least on an annual basis.

    The recommendation is noted. The source of data for extrabudgetary institutions is not compiled in the Government Accounting and Budgeting System (GABS); therefore, an extra effort will have to be made to use the end-of-year financial statements of such institutions to extract the data. The problem is that the responsible unit in MFDP has a serious staff shortage (as the mission had noted), but efforts are under way to recruit and train additional staff.

    With regard to the preparation of general government accounts, there is currently a backlog in the preparation and auditing of local authorities’ accounts. However, assistance has been sought from the African Development Bank to help in strengthening the responsible department in the Ministry of Local Government.

  • Formally assign responsibility for disseminating fiscal statistics to the public to the minister of the MFDP.

    The release of information to the National Assembly is accompanied by budget tables which are published and are available to the general public on an annual basis. However, plans are under way to post some selected tables from the publications on the MFDP’s website.

  • Allocate more human resources to the compilation and dissemination of GFS, and emphasize training in international methodologies. Reduce staff turnover.

    One officer from the Cash Flow Unit (CFU) is currently attending a GFS course offered by the IMF. As mentioned earlier, processes are under way to recruit three more officers into the CFU; this would bring the staff complement in the unit to four by the end of the year. The total number will be five after one additional member returns from long-term training by the beginning of next year. Fully staffed, the current establishment of the CFU is sufficient to carry out its responsibilities, including additional tasks resulting from these recommendations.

  • Bring the classifications used for subannual and annual fiscal statistics on the operations of budgetary central government and local governments into conformity with the guidelines of the GFSM 1986. Consider adopting a migration path to the GFSM 2001.

    Plans are under way to prepare central government statistics using the 2001 GFSM but, as already noted, this is constrained by current staff shortages. Local authorities will be brought on board at a later stage.

  • Post the monthly summary cash-flow table on the MFDP’s website immediately after it becomes available. Compile a quarterly central government debt table and post it on the MFDP’s website. In this manner, Botswana would easily meet the GDDS timeliness standard.

    The recommendation is noted. A commitment was made to publish the cash-flow tables on the website immediately after they are available. But because of an IT setback, updates on the website were not made since the initial posting. The MFDP’s IT unit is currently working with consultants to update the website. With regard to the debt tables, efforts are being made to update the Commonwealth Secretariat–Debt Recording and Management System (CS-DRMS) which could then be used to generate various reports as per our users’ requirements and post same on the website at least by the end of the second quarter of 2007.

Monetary statistics

  • Report the BoB’s preliminary monthly accounting data with a level of detail compatible with the recommendations of the MFSM to the Research Department, in electronic form and no later than 15 working days after the reference month.

    The modalities and implications of moving to a 15-day reporting format are being examined.

  • Review the report forms of the ODCs to ensure the most complete and timely information for supervisory and statistical purposes. Establish electronic reporting systems to compile data from the ODCs.

    The reporting template is currently being reviewed with the intention of providing the full detail required for statistical purposes. The new format will be introduced shortly. Electronic reporting formats also are being developed as part of this exercise.

Balance of payments statistics

  • Improve estimation methods and statistical techniques. Review benchmarks regularly, particularly for valuation adjustments to imports. Develop estimates for unrecorded trade and other missing data. Identify, as a matter of urgency, alternative sources for travel data.

    Estimation methods and statistical techniques, including how to estimate unrecorded trade, will be examined in the context of possible technical assistance requirements. The possibility of using more detailed customs data to refine benchmarks is being investigated. The absence of reliable up-to-date travel data is recognized as a serious problem, and the BoB will support the Department of Tourism where possible in efforts to produce improved statistics.

  • Initiate planning for redeploying staff and other resources from processing bank reports on foreign exchange transactions to address other needs (such as surveys) and produce data of higher quality. Ultimately, terminate the banks’ foreign exchange reporting requirement.

    Some conflicting advice has been received in this area, with other technical assistance emphasizing the potential value of using the information on foreign exchange transactions. During 2007, surveys of trade in services are being conducted in parallel with collecting information from banks. After this trial period, the way forward, including any necessary retraining and redeployment of staff, will be determined.

  • Establish a formal intra-governmental agreement or change of the Bank of Botswana Act (BoB Act) to clarify the BoB’s responsibility for compiling balance of payments data.

    The modalities of both of these possibilities will be examined. However, it must be emphasized that the BoB already possesses broad legal powers to collect information, and these have so far proven sufficient to support the production of balance of payments data.