The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) has made significant progress in improving the quality and quantity of the macroeconomic statistics it produces and disseminates to the public. The Selected Issues Paper discusses prospects and challenges for credit unions in the ECCU. It reviews the current state of macroeconomic statistics, outlines progress that has been made, and identifies outstanding challenges. It also describes technical assistance to the region and presents the challenges for the production of macroeconomic statistics in small island states.

Abstract

The Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) has made significant progress in improving the quality and quantity of the macroeconomic statistics it produces and disseminates to the public. The Selected Issues Paper discusses prospects and challenges for credit unions in the ECCU. It reviews the current state of macroeconomic statistics, outlines progress that has been made, and identifies outstanding challenges. It also describes technical assistance to the region and presents the challenges for the production of macroeconomic statistics in small island states.

II. Macroeconomic Statistics in the ECCU1

Joint Paper between IMF and Statistics Department, ECCB

A. Introduction

1. Timely and accurate macroeconomic statistical information is paramount for the design, monitoring, and evaluation of sound macroeconomic policies. Establishment of the Organization of Eastern Caribbean States OECS/ECCU Economic Union and the signing of the Economic Union Treaty have thrown into sharp relief the need for an integrated economic framework spanning the ECCU.23 Deepening economic integration requires cross-country comparison and analysis within the union to support member government coordination of economic policies and effective economic decision making by market participants. Effective comparison and analysis require harmonized macroeconomic statistics. In addition, the transparency enabled by public dissemination of these data fosters investor confidence and improves access to global capital markets. Research has shown that improving the transparency and quality of macroeconomic data reduces borrowing costs in international capital markets (see Cady et. al., 2005; Cady and Pellechio, 2006; and Cady and Gonzalez-Garcia, 2006)4

2. The members of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU) are small and open island economies. Because of their small scale, they face challenges in producing macroeconomic statistics that might not be faced by larger national economies. Harmonization fosters efficient utilization of scarce resources in the region by allowing compilation of economic statistics for the union that are direct and coherent aggregates of member country statistics. Harmonization also promotes efficiency by using standard statistical procedures and software tools, and minimizes the need for special collections and compilations to support regional statistics. Further, because the union has larger scale than its individual members, there are potential economies of scale in production of statistics for the union not present in producing statistics for its individual member states. Centralizing, to the extent possible, implementation and management of harmonized country level statistics facilitates exploiting economies of scale in producing statistics at the union level. However, it cannot be effective without harmonization. Harmonization thus is a key prerequisite to producing coherent and efficiently produced statistics for any economic and monetary union that are fit for public policy and private sector decision making. The European Union, its statistical agency Eurostat and the European Central Bank (ECB) offer examples of harmonization of compilation and dissemination of statistical data which have resulted in greater data transparency, compatibility and better allocation of scarce human resources and could provide some useful examples for other currency unions. Box 1 describes the modus operandi of Eurostat and the ECB, the agencies whose task is to compile harmonized macroeconomic statistics for the European Union (EU).

Harmonization of Macroeconomic Statistics in the EU1

The institutions responsible for harmonization of macroeconomic statistics for the EU are Eurostat and, for the EU countries comprising the Euro area, ECB. Their main role is to process and publish comparable statistical information at European or Euro area level by harmonizing the concepts, methods, structures, and technical standards used in the EU Member States. Eurostat and ECB work in their respective topical and geographical domains with Member States to define common methodology and assist Member States with the harmonization of their data compilation practices.

Neither Eurostat nor ECB collects data from individual reporters; data collection is performed in Member States by their statistical authorities and national central banks, which verify and analyze national data and send them to Eurostat and ECB. Eurostat and ECB consolidate the data and ensure they are comparable by using harmonized methodology. Eurostat and ECB are the designated providers of official economic statistics at European and Euro area level, respectively, and strive to harmonize statistical information to the greatest possible degree in their respective topical and geographical domains.

The birth of the Euro has increased further the need to harmonize the statistical methodologies between Member States and to publish Euro-zone indicators. For this reason, Eurostat and ECB now publish economic indicators for the Euro-zone and as well as for the Member States.

1 Adapted in part from the Eurostat web page http://epp.eurostat.ec.europa.eu/portal/page/portal/eurostat/home.

3. This paper provides an overview of the key statistical issues in the ECCU. Section II reviews the current state of macroeconomic statistics in the ECCU, outlines the progress that has been made, and identifies outstanding challenges. Section III briefly describes technical assistance (TA) to the region. Section IV presents the challenges for the production of macroeconomic statistics in small island states, and Section V concludes. Appendix I present issues in macroeconomic statistics in the ECCU detail.

B. The Current State of Macroeconomic Statistics in the ECCU

4. ECCU countries have already made significant progress in upgrading and harmonizing their statistical systems. This section reviews the achievements as well as the challenges still faced by the ECCU countries in upgrading and harmonizing their statistical systems covering the real sector, external statistics, government finance and monetary and financial statistics. It also reviews data dissemination practices. The section also compares the ECCU statistical practices with best international practices.

C. Real Sector Statistics

5. ECCU’s System of National Accounts is based on the 1993 System of National Accounts (1993 SNA). The 1993 SNA comprises internationally accepted concepts, definitions, classifications, and accounting rules for compiling the macroeconomic accounts of an economic territory, whether it is a state/province, country, or region. The SNA’s goods and services accounts include a set of production accounts deriving GDP by economic activity. These GDP-by-production accounts are fully harmonized among the ECCU countries. A well-known presentation of GDP based on the goods and services components of the SNA’s standard sequence of accounts also shows how GDP is used for final expenditure on household, nonprofit, and government consumption, as well as the capital formation (investment) and net exports of all institutional sectors. The ECCU member countries are progressing with these GDP-by-expenditure statistics.5 So far, ECCU countries have not yet established a timetable for the adoption of the 2008 SNA, which provides for improved treatment of nonfinancial assets, the public sector, financial sector accounts, and balance of payments (via implementation of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual, Sixth Edition (BPM6), which is fully compatible with the 2008 SNA).

6. Over the last few years, member countries have undertaken several projects to improve data quality and harmonize the compilation of real sector statistics. All member countries have rebased their national accounts to base year 2006 for the period 2000 to 2010. Box 2 describes the features of the ECCU Rebased National Accounts series. As part of the rebasing exercise, countries have improved the coverage, data sources, concepts, methodology, and the GDP classification by economic activity. The previous base year used for compiling the estimates was 1990. Member countries have undergone significant structural changes since 1990, and international good practice is to rebase the national accounts every five years, so the rebasing exercise is welcome. The share of agriculture in GDP has declined and the share of services in GDP has increased. The rebasing exercise revealed that the GDP had been underestimated between 9 and 46 percent, depending on the country and period of comparison.

7. ECCU countries do not compile quarterly GDP data. The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Center (CARTAC) has started a pilot project in Saint Lucia with the goal of compiling and disseminating quarterly GDP statistics. It is planned that other ECCU countries will also develop quarterly GDP statistics in the medium term. However, a quarterly index based on volume indicators is compiled by the ECCB in collaboration with the ECCU member countries.

8. The consumer price index (CPI) in member countries had been based on outdated baskets of goods and services that had become unrepresentative of consumption patterns. To improve the quality of CPI data, all member countries, with the exception of Montserrat, rebased their national CPIs. Box 3 describes the improvements to the CPI in the ECCU. The new basket of goods and services better reflects the importance of rents, imputed rents, services, and health insurance. Additional retail outlets have also been added to the surveys to provide better coverage. So far, Grenada, St Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia and St Vincent and the Grenadines have officially released their new CPI.

9. One of the most important shortcomings for macroeconomic policymaking is the lack of appropriate labor market statistics. A project to improve them has commenced recently under the auspices of the OECS Secretariat and with the technical assistance of the International Labor Organization (ILO) and financial support from The Caribbean Centre for Development Administration. The goal of the project is to establish an OECS wide Labor Market Information System (LMIS), which would collect data on wages and labor costs, employment, and unemployment. LMIS will also establish selected labor administrative procedures and standardize computer-aided record keeping. The project was pilot-launched in St Vincent and the Grenadines in April 2011 and is expected to be expanded to the other OECS countries over the medium term.

Features of the ECCU Rebased National Accounts Series

With the support of the ECCB and CARTAC, GDP by economic activity of the ECCU member states have been rebased from base year 1990 to base year 2006. The rebasing exercise involved the calculation of value added using prices of a more recent period; and also provided an opportunity for benchmarking the GDP estimates to facilitate wider coverage and greater accuracy through updated intermediate consumption/gross output ratios.

The rebasing exercise has led to significant improvements in the GDP current and constant price series arising from broader data coverage (by employing a wider range of data sources, including economic surveys and administrative data), conceptual changes (notably for financial services1, and measurement of the output of owner-occupied housing), methodological changes (integrated output, intermediate consumption and value added for all industries) and improved estimation procedures (including the use of better extrapolation/deflation techniques for the GDP constant price series).

The calculation of value added in an integrated framework—gross output, intermediate consumption and value added for all industries—is a marked improvement over the earlier estimates, which in some cases, were derived as the movement in historical value added by price and volume measures. The improvement was facilitated by the availability, in some countries, of comprehensive national accounts surveys, supply and use tables (SUTs), and household budget surveys (HBS). The SUTs directly facilitate the compilation of integrated production accounts. The HBS results were used in measuring the output of nontradable services (in the absence of enterprise-based data); and/or in validating supply-based estimates of production.

In most countries, compilers undertook statistical enquiries to improve the scope of these industry-based estimates (e.g., fishing, land and sea transportation, other crops) of GDP. Administrative data from revenue agencies were also used, mainly to supplement the coverage of survey-based results for industries such as hotels and restaurants, manufacturing, and wholesale and retail trade. While the underlying estimation technique was retained for construction, intermediate consumption was recalculated to take account of a larger number of building materials, and of services used in construction.

Regarding industrial classifications, the International Standard Industrial Classification (ISIC) Revision 3.1 was implemented as recommended by the ECCB. Education and health and social work are now identified as separate industries, and the public components of these services, formerly included under government, have now been reclassified. In a number of ECCU member states, offshore university activities were previously not captured; these activities are now reflected in the new series.

The level of the ECCU GDP is significantly higher than the previously estimated one which resulted in the change of several key indicators. The revised level of GDP in 2009 was 19.8 percent above the previous estimate. See Chart 1 which compares the original and revised series for the period 2005–2009.

The overall result is that the level of the ECCU current price annual GDP increased by an annual average of 21.5 percent over the period 2000–2009. The revised GDP series has also revealed a slightly higher level of real growth, which averaged 3.0 per cent over the period 2005 to 2009 compared to 2.5 percent in the original series. Chart 2 compares the growth rates over this period. The revised real GDP growth rates are broadly in line with the trends of the original series.

uA02fig01

ECCU GDP at Current Prices

(Millions EC$)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 130; 10.5089/9781475504101.002.A002

uA02fig02

ECCU GDP Real Growth Rates

(Percent change)

Citation: IMF Staff Country Reports 2012, 130; 10.5089/9781475504101.002.A002

The per capita GDP is higher. It peaked at EC$ 24,632 in 2008 vs. EC$ 20,897 as previously measured. The revised GDP levels also show that the fiscal position of the ECCU is slightly better than the original measures. The Debt to GDP ratio improved to range between a high of 88.5 percent in 2005 to 75.3 percent in 2008. This compares to 103.7 percent and 91.6 percent as originally measured. (See Table 1)

The top five industries as measured by the contribution to gross value added over the period 2005 to 2009 were transport and communication 14.1 percent, real estate, renting and business activities 12.9 percent, wholesale and retail trade 11.8 percent, construction 11.6 percent and financial intermediation 9.7 percent.

The revised GDP series now represents the current structure of the regional economy and the composition of the economic sectors more accurately than previously captured. The new series is very comprehensive. It provides more detail by industrial activity and includes expanded estimates for services that were not previously captured. For example, it is now possible to determine the value added of business services, computer and related services, health and educational services, as well as private households with employed persons.

The revised GDP series for the region is available from the ECCB in their annual publication National Accounts Statistics, 2009.

1 Specifically that part of financial services covered by “financial intermediation services indirectly measured” (FISIM). FISIM estimates the proportion of the spread between loan interest received and deposit interest paid arising from, respectively, loan (credit) and deposit services.

Improvements to the CPI in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union (ECCU)

ECCU member states have developed new market baskets for the CPI, using results from Household Income and Expenditure Surveys (HIES). They have also improved the classification structure, methods, and procedures used to compile the CPI in line with those discussed in the CPI Manual, 2004. The revised CPIs, which became available in September 2010, have made the measurement of inflation more accurate and allowed greater comparability across the region.

The revised CPIs have been enhanced by

  • Expanding the geographical coverage and adding newer outlets. The CPI is now more representative of entire countries, not just capital city areas;

  • Including new item structures that reflect both updated spending patterns and new products (e.g., adding college tuition, cell phones, MP3 players, computers, and health and auto insurance to the CPI basket);

  • Using the Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose (COICOP), the international standard recommended in the CPI Manual. This replaces regional classification structures that were somewhat different from those provided in COICOP;

  • Covering owner occupied dwellings using owner’s equivalent rent, making the CPI conceptually consistent with the System of National Accounts;

  • Using the Price Index Processor System (PIPS, at http://www.unece.org/hk/stats/downloads/sw_cpi_ppi/pips.html), which improves the methods and procedures previously used by:

    • Compiling indexes that use geometric averaging rather than arithmetic averaging to reduce the biases documented in the CPI Manual that result from using arithmetic averages of prices and arithmetic averages of price relatives;

    • Imputing missing prices using the price change of related products vs. carrying forward the last reported price, which has an inherent short-term bias and can result in long term bias unless imputations are carefully applied;

    • Dealing with product quality change using techniques documented in the CPI Manual.

    • Enhancing comparability across the region in terms of classifications, structure, methods, and procedures used in the CPIs.

ECCU members have received substantial technical assistance from the CARTAC in the revision process. CARTAC helped each country develop their market basket and introduce the PIPS software that will enable the statistical offices to implement the improved methods described in the CPI Manual.

11. While the Caribbean Tourism Organization (CTO) publishes monthly data on stay-over arrivals; it does not publish data on tourists’ expenditures. Given the importance of tourism for these countries, the ECCU is planning to develop tourism satellite accounts (TSA) in collaboration with the CTO6. Current statistics, based on arrivals, overnight stays, and balance of payments (BOP) information, inadequately present the economic importance of tourism. In addition, the timeliness of tourism statistics should be improved.

D. External Sector Statistics

12. Pursuant to mandates of the member governments, the Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB) monitors the external sector. In collaboration with member countries’ statistical offices, the ECCB compiles the respective Balance of Payments (BOP) and publishes them annually. The estimates are based on both survey and non-survey data and are collated in a format that is consistent with the fifth edition of the IMF Balance of Payments Manual (BPM5).7 Member countries are expected to be compliant with BPM6 by 2013.

13. Improved BOP survey forms have been produced and tested, but the launch is being delayed until software used to produce the BOP statistics is updated to reflect changes in the survey forms. The improved forms will allow for the presentation of the BOP in the Extended Balance of Payments Services format and over the medium-term, for the preparation of the International Investment Position (IIP).8 Dominica has been selected as the pilot country to establish IIP statistics, with the assistance of the IMF Statistics Department.

14. An important improvement to external sector statistics would be the production of quarterly BOP, which would help anticipate potential drains on international reserves. In addition, quarterly data on foreign investment would improve economic growth forecasts. Given the high debt level of most ECCU countries, the availability of statistics on government-guaranteed debt, external debt, and debt-service schedule for domestic and external debt would be useful for policymakers and financial market participants.

15. Institutional arrangements to monitor foreign direct investment (FDI) projects are in place only in Grenada and Antigua and Barbuda. In other member countries, data on FDI are compiled using information from the media and through interviews with various stakeholders in the industries. The capital flows in the BOP are largely dominated by transactions of member governments. The information on non-government flows is obtained by surveying establishments engaged in external transactions.

16. The timeliness and quality of trade data varies among member countries and in most countries, the timely dissemination is hampered by a combination of issues with administration, data entry processes, and information technology in some member countries.

17. Remittances inflows, especially remittances in-kind, have always been significant for the ECCU. Current data on remittances are estimates and compiled using available qualitative and quantitative information such as developments in the remittance source countries as well as the domestic economies. With the revision of the balance of payments survey forms, a questionnaire was developed to capture information on transfers that go through remittance service providers or money transfer companies. In addition, for the 2011 census process in the ECCU, questions were included to source information on the receipt of transfers from overseas.

E. Government Finance Statistics

18. The annual and quarterly data on central government finances published by the ECCB are broadly in line with the methodology set up in the Government Finance Statistics Manual 1986. The International Financial Statistics (IFS) publishes cash statements in accordance with the Government Finance Statistics Manual 2001 (GFSM 2001) format for Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, and for the ECCU as a region.

19. No detailed data are published on the public sector. The authorities plan to broaden the coverage of statutory bodies and public enterprises, which would help follow the evolution of public sector’s fiscal accounts and assess the potential contingent liability of the central government. Countries will need to migrate toward a GFSM 2001 presentation as mandated in the IMF Board Decision No. 14565-(10/20) and outlined in the paper Government Finance Statistics to Strengthen Fiscal Analysis.9

20. High levels of fiscal deficits and public debts in several ECCU countries highlight the importance of reliable and timely fiscal data. The countries would benefit from the compilation of countries’ fiscal balance sheets, disaggregated by instrument and by residency. Such balance sheets would usefully complement the existing cash flow statements.

F. Monetary and Financial Statistics

21. The ECCB produces and disseminates the Monetary and Financial Statistics (MFS) for the currency union and its members. The MFS are of sufficient quality for surveillance purposes and are fully harmonized across the members. The MFS, while covering commercial banks, are not fully compliant with the IMF’s Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual (MFSM), since they do not cover other deposit taking institutions. Since 2005, the ECCB has made progress in working on expanding the institutional coverage to include ‘other deposit taking institutions’.

22. A number of projects to improve the quality, coverage, and timeliness of the MFS are ongoing at the ECCB. The Bank (ECCB) has collaborated with CARTAC to finalize regulatory reporting forms for financial institutions regulated by the Single Regulatory Units (SRUs). These included other depository corporations, credit unions, insurance companies, trust companies, mutual funds, money services, and offshore banks. The SRUs received the final set of returns in May 2010 and were requested by the ECCB to provide quarterly consolidated data for each type of institution. The licensed non-bank institutions were required to use the new Other Depository Corporations returns from April 2011. Once these forms are submitted, the ECCB should be able to expand the institutional coverage of the monetary survey. In addition, revised prudential returns for the commercial banks that are based on international standards were completed in February 2011. Discussions are ongoing with select commercial banks on this project and a pilot testing of these returns is expected by the second half of 2012.

23. The ECCB also reviewed the existing list of statutory bodies to ensure proper classification of institutional units for further improvements in the quality of the monetary statistics. The Ministries of Finance in each of the eight territories provided information to classify statutory bodies into central government agencies or public non-financial corporations. This comprehensive list of state owned institutions will be submitted to all financial institutions that report data for monetary statistics purposes. Once these have been incorporated, the ECCB will classify deposits of public nonfinancial corporations held by commercial banks as part of broad money (as recommended in the IMF Monetary and Financial Statistics Manual). The ECCB currently prepares Financial Soundness Indicators (FSIs) and circulate them to the IMF for internal purposes only.

G. Data Dissemination Practices

24. The ECCB publishes a release calendar that provides release dates for the GDP, CPI, BOP and MFS. The ECCB also disseminates a revision schedule for monetary statistics. The ECCB publishes a wide range of data on its website, annual GDP estimates, results of the Business Outlook Survey January-June 2011, fiscal targets for ECCU member countries, revision cycle for monetary data, monetary statistics, tourism data and consumer price indices. Links to the IMF General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) are also provided on the ECCB website. Work is ongoing, however, to develop an interactive database that would facilitate access to a downloadable time series that could be readily used for econometric studies. The Eastern Caribbean Stock Exchange (ECSE) provides a graph of the share price index on its website, but no time series.

H. Technical Assistance to the Region

25. The ECCU has received substantial TA from CARTAC, the Statistics Department of the IMF (STA), the ILO, CTO, and other organizations. Since September 2007, STA and CARTAC have fielded 70 technical assistance missions to the ECCU to help support the implementation of its current statistical plan. Most missions focused on the rebasing of the national accounts and the CPI and one mission dealt with Government Finance Statistics. In addition, 72 participants from the ECCU have attended statistical courses given by the IMF Institute and CARTAC.

26. In 2011, CARTAC started two major projects in macroeconomic statistics:, assistance to ECCU countries in revising the compilation of GDP by expenditure and the construction of quarterly GDP time series in Saint Lucia.

I. Challenges for the Production of Statistics in Small Island States

27. ECCU countries are middle-income, very small island economies and their resources to produce macroeconomic statistics are not on par with the resources that are available to larger countries. For this reason, the ECCU countries must economize in at least two ways: first, they must pool scarce resources and produce a significant part of their macroeconomic statistics on a regional level. Second, they must conduct a cost and benefit analysis to determine what macroeconomic statistics they should produce at all.

28. A key reason for the ECCU’s weaknesses in economic data is the lack of resources devoted to statistics. The Caribbean countries spend on average about 0.2 percent of their budget in statistics. STA estimates that this expenditure would need to rise to about 0.5 percent to increase substantially the quality of statistics.

J. Modalities of Institutional Organization

29. The economy of scale requires a regional approach. Possible options for regional organization are as follows.

  • Convert central statistical offices (CSOs) into autonomous national statistical offices. While CSOs appear to have a reasonable number of staff, in practice they employ mostly data compilers and only a handful of persons are trained statisticians. This shortage of qualified statisticians hampers statistical development. Amending statistical acts to make statistical offices independent with their own pay scale would help recruit and retain trained statisticians.

  • Establish a Regional Statistical Bureau (RSB) and National Statistical Bureaus (NSBs). It is important to ensure that resources are commensurate with the needs of statistical programs. A more regional approach would help reap economies of scale. A RSB would provide survey design, database expertise, information technology, data dissemination support for all ECCU countries, while NSBs would continue to compile most of the data. The RSB would be the statistical supporting arm of the OECS/ECCU Economic Union. The RSB would allow the pooling of capacity where it is not cost-effective for small CSOs to host their own skills and knowledge (such as in demographic analysis). The creation of a RSB would provide a career path for the best CSO statisticians to become regional experts.

  • Centers of excellence, either at the ECCB or in a member country, where the staff would specialize in the production of key indicators and serve as a resource center for the whole union. Centers for excellence would also be helpful in order to have regional experts in all the statistical areas of concern (not only macroeconomic, but also social, demographic, education, etc.)

  • Using the INSEE model, the regional statistical bureau would provide statisticians, while national governments would provide survey officers. Under this model, most CSO statistical staff would become employees of a new regional statistical bureau (RSB). A senior country statistician appointed by the RSB would run each local office. A head office in one central ECCU location would provide central services and extra help when needed, and produce most of the high-level analytical reports and publications. The logic of this proposed intervention is that a single statistics office for the region would be more efficient and effective than eight (8) separate CSOs. This approach would provide an attractive career path for existing staff and new recruits, and facilitate the recruitment and retention of professional statisticians. It would also help provide better consistency of data in the region. Countries would need to retain the services of some senior staff to meet national legislative requirements; to monitor the contract with the RSB; to coordinate and plan the remaining statistical system not produced by the RSB; ensure that statistical data are disseminated within the country; and that the confidentiality clauses of the national statistics law are not breached. Staff based in the respective countries would, however, be employees of the regional institution rather than being national civil servants. They would be subject to the national laws including the statistics law, in particular because of the need for access to confidential data. Terms and conditions of service, including salaries, and training and development would be the responsibility of the regional head office. Junior and data collection staff would remain country-based employees.

K. Plans for Improvement

30. The ECCU member countries with support from the ECCB and the OECS Secretariat continue to work toward the development of an integrated statistical system, which is critical to ensuring the provision of timely and reliable data for evidenced-based policy making. This integrated system would generate national statistics on a harmonized basis and would facilitate cross country comparison and analysis and economies of scale for data generation and dissemination within the OECS Economic Union.

31. In September 2007, the ECCB collaborated with the IMF on the hosting of an International Conference on Statistics. Conference participants included the public and private sectors, as well as producers and users of statistics. Coming out of that meeting various commitments were given to enhance statistical systems; promote centralised coordination and management of the national and regional statistical systems; enhance the institutional framework and man power requirements. In addition, coming out of the sixth special meeting of the Monetary Council on 18 September 2009, the Council agreed to increase the focus on statistical development by recommending the following measures to member states:

  • A concrete plan for the removal of the statistical gaps that exist in the ECCU statistical system in the provision of timely, relevant and accurate data.

  • The adoption of technologies that would facilitate improved data collection and analysis.

  • Focused attention on equipping the relevant statistical offices across the region with professional staff and instituting continued training and development.

32. Since then considerable work has been undertaken within the ECCU, under the OECS Statistical Programme, to enhance the delivery of statistical services in the region.

33. To promote statistical services within the region, the formation of a Regional Statistical Bureau has been discussed, albeit as a long term goal. The ideal structure for the proposed regional statistical system will be based on a Regional Statistics Bureau (RSB) linked to Central Statistical Offices (CSOs) at the national level. The CSOs would be termed National Statistics Bureau (NSBs) and be linked to the producers of statistics in the countries.

L. Conclusion

34. The ECCU has made significant progress in improving the quality and quantity of the macroeconomic statistics it produces and disseminates to the public. There are, however, areas for improvement. Such areas include the production of high frequency indicators to monitor development in the real sector. Data on the tourism industry, labor markets, foreign direct investment, and private capital flows must also be enhanced to support effective policymaking in the ECCU. Moreover, the dissemination of timely statistics to the public is critical. In addition, the production of quarterly BOP statistics would provide useful insights into the external sector of the ECCU members. Finally, compiling timely and accurate position data, namely IIP, FDI, and external debt statistics, would usefully facilitate balance sheet analysis of the ECCU economies.

35. A successful economic union and stable currency union will require reorganization and strengthening of the structure supporting statistical production. The OECS/ECCU has a good record of accomplishment in providing data to the IMF and is working on several key projects to improve its statistical framework.

Annex—The Comparator Matrix of Statistical issues in the ECCU

ECCU—Statistical Issues

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References

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1

Prepared by S. Benjamin, A. Brousseau, H. Corbin, M. Mrkaic, L. Sahely in consultation with staff of the IMF Statistics Department.

2

ECCU members are Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and Grenadines and two UK overseas territories Anguilla and Montserrat.

3

In light of the rapidly changing global environment and the need to transform domestic economies to remain competitive, the OECS Heads of Government decided in 2001 to establish an Economic Union to improve policy coordination among member states and promote economic growth and poverty reduction. The OECS Economic Union was legally established in the Revised Treaty of Basseterre. The Revised Treaty of Basseterre establishing the OECS Economic Union was signed on 18 June 2010 in St. Lucia. It came into effect on January 21, 2011 after four independent OECS countries had ratified it.

4

Given that, most ECCU countries have large debts and regularly issue sovereign bonds to finance budgetary deficits or to rollover existing debt, it is essential that they provide adequate statistical information to financial market participants.

5

St. Lucia has published GDP by expenditure through 2006. The ECCB has compiled but does not publish experimental estimates of household consumption, government consumption, and fixed capital formation for ECCU member countries through 2009. These data are, however, disseminated by the United Nations Statistics Division.

6

A TSA provides macroeconomic aggregates that describe the size and the economic contribution of tourism, such as gross value added and tourism gross domestic product, consistent with similar aggregates for the whole economy. It also includes detailed data on tourism consumption, a description of how this consumption is met by domestic supply and imports and is integrated with supply and use tables. A TSA also includes production accounts of the tourism industries, data on employment, linkages with other productive economic activities and gross fixed capital formation. Finally, a TSA should include data on number of trips (or visits), duration of stay, purpose of trip, modes of transport etc.

7

Compilation and production of the BOP data have been made possible through the development and use of a customized program referred to as the Computer Enhanced Balance of Payments System (CEBOPS). All BOP data are harmonized among the members in that their compilation practices largely adhere to the recommendations of the Fifth Edition of the IMF “Balance Of Payments Manual” (“BPM5”). This presentation was introduced in 1996 and for consistency the series from 1986 to 1995 were revised to reflect the methodology of the BPM5. The data are compiled annually and published in the “ECCB Area Balance of Payments Statistics” annual report. The data are presented in two formats: (i) the detailed format showing the individual BOP items with the corresponding credit and debit entries as well as the balance and (ii) the analytical summary format presenting the major BOP sections, the overall balance, and financing.

8

The IIP is a statistical statement that shows at a point in time the value and composition of financial external assets and liabilities of residents of an economy