Oman: Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC)—Data Module Volume II

OVERALL ASSESSMENT 1. Oman began to participate in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) in 2002 and started posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) in June of the same year. Oman meets the GDDS good practices for data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness with a few exceptions including the timeliness of the first annual estimate of GDP in volume terms, which is available eleven months after the reference period. Graduation to the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) would require stronger and sustained effort to enhance data collection and to strengthen the legal framework for the production of macroeconomic statistics, as set out in the recommendations ahead. Appendix I provides an overview of Oman's dissemination practices compared to the GDDS. 2. This report provides an update of the assessment conducted in February 2004, which was based on the 2003 version of the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). This report uses the May 2012 version of the DQAF, and provides an assessment of Oman’s national accounts (NA), consumer price index (CPI), producer price index (PPI), government finance statistics (GFS), monetary statistics, and external sector statistics (ESS). The three agencies that produce these statistics are the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), and the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The NCSI and the CBO disseminate data as distinct statistical outputs. The MOF produces GFS for dissemination by the NCSI as an input to macroeconomic statistics, but not as a distinct statistical output. 3. Oman has made significant progress in the compilation and dissemination of macroeconomic statistics since the 2004 ROSC mission. The main progress has been achieved in monetary statistics, price indices, and balance of payments, in particular the introduction of the PPI, and improvements in data relevance, transparency, classification, and sectorization. Also of great significance are the establishment of the NCSI as an autonomous statistical institution on May 26, 2012, (Royal Decree No. 31/2012) and an elaboration of its duties in August 2014. Among the NCSI’s main duties is the “technical supervision of the management and organization of statistics and information activities in Oman” (Royal Decree No. 40/2014). Table 1 provides an indication of areas of progress.

Abstract

OVERALL ASSESSMENT 1. Oman began to participate in the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) in 2002 and started posting its metadata on the Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board (DSBB) in June of the same year. Oman meets the GDDS good practices for data coverage, periodicity, and timeliness with a few exceptions including the timeliness of the first annual estimate of GDP in volume terms, which is available eleven months after the reference period. Graduation to the Special Data Dissemination Standard (SDDS) would require stronger and sustained effort to enhance data collection and to strengthen the legal framework for the production of macroeconomic statistics, as set out in the recommendations ahead. Appendix I provides an overview of Oman's dissemination practices compared to the GDDS. 2. This report provides an update of the assessment conducted in February 2004, which was based on the 2003 version of the IMF’s Data Quality Assessment Framework (DQAF). This report uses the May 2012 version of the DQAF, and provides an assessment of Oman’s national accounts (NA), consumer price index (CPI), producer price index (PPI), government finance statistics (GFS), monetary statistics, and external sector statistics (ESS). The three agencies that produce these statistics are the National Center for Statistics and Information (NCSI), the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), and the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The NCSI and the CBO disseminate data as distinct statistical outputs. The MOF produces GFS for dissemination by the NCSI as an input to macroeconomic statistics, but not as a distinct statistical output. 3. Oman has made significant progress in the compilation and dissemination of macroeconomic statistics since the 2004 ROSC mission. The main progress has been achieved in monetary statistics, price indices, and balance of payments, in particular the introduction of the PPI, and improvements in data relevance, transparency, classification, and sectorization. Also of great significance are the establishment of the NCSI as an autonomous statistical institution on May 26, 2012, (Royal Decree No. 31/2012) and an elaboration of its duties in August 2014. Among the NCSI’s main duties is the “technical supervision of the management and organization of statistics and information activities in Oman” (Royal Decree No. 40/2014). Table 1 provides an indication of areas of progress.

Introduction

The National Centre for Statistics and Information (NCSI) of Oman compiled responses in coordination with the Central Bank of Oman (CBO), and the Ministry of Finance (MOF). The authorities appreciated the mission’s recommendations and agreed to publication of the three volumes of the Report on the Observance of Standards and Codes (ROSC) data module on the International Monetary Fund external website. Below are the authorities’ specific comments relating to national accounts, consumer price index, producer price index, monetary statistics, and balance of payments statistics.

Specific Responses

Response by National Centre for Statistics and Information

A. National Accounts

1. Replace the current benchmarking technique with a standard technique such as the Proportional Denton Method to enable preparation of consistent quarterly time series. (i) A quarterly time series will be updated and published each quarter to reflect revised data. (ii) The Denton Method will be used to post data after calculating or estimating annual data.

2. Publish documentation outlining the regular and transparent schedule for which national accounts are revised. The NCSI is currently updating its website and will shortly determine a timetable for subsequent publication.

3. Ensure volume movements for taxes less subsides on products reflect volume movements of the underlying products. The note will be taken into consideration for future development.

4. Construct and publish a policy documenting the users receiving statistics prior to release, the principles under which this disclosure occurs, and the process by which access can be requested. The note will be taken into consideration for future development.

B. Consumer Price Index

5. Continue to explore ways of fine-turning the rebasing of Consumer Price Index (CPI); notably, set the annual average of 2012 to 100, while allowing monthly changes. NCSI rebased the CPI on a monthly basis from 2012 and it will be available on the NCSI website ASAP.

6. Disseminate detailed monthly time series on the NCSI website in a user-friendly format. NCSI launched new website and the time series will be available in PDF format and we will make sure to make it user friendly ASAP.

7. Provide explanations on current period developments of the index in the monthly publication. A footnote has been added in the NCSI monthly publication mentioning all changes and explanations for new index in the NCSI website.

C. Producer Price Index

8. Update the production system to facilitate replacement of items and establishments consistent with the producer price index (PPI) manual to facilitate monthly publication of PPI. The NCSI has commenced implementation.

9. Establish procedures for regular updates of the weights and the item/establishment samples consistent with availability of contemporary source data. The recommendation will be taken in consideration as part of future development.

10. Provide detailed time series on the NCSI website, readily available and in a convenient format. The time series will be available on the NCIS website in PDF format and publication in excel format will be considered as part of future development.

Response by the Central Bank of Oman

D. Monetary Statistics

11. Include the Islamic banks in the coverage of other depository corporations (ODCs). The inclusion of Islamic banks and Windows in the coverage of other depository corporations following a detailed mapping to align balance sheets of conventional and Islamic banks has been completed. The Combined Monetary Survey is being published in CBO’s Monthly and Quarterly Bulletins commencing the current year for data beginning from the year 2013.

12. Improve the presentation of table “Commercial Bank’s Combined Balance Sheet” in the CBO’s statistical bulletins by expanding the sectoral breakdown for loans, debt securities and deposits. The institutional and sectoral classification on both the assets and liabilities side of the combined balance sheet of commercial banks is being published commencing with the 2015 statistical bulletins.

13. Explore the feasibility to collect data from other financial corporations such as Pension Funds and insurance companies to compile other financial cooperation survey in the future. At present, the deposits and loans of Pension Funds and Insurance companies with the banking system are captured and separately shown in the balance sheet of commercial banks under financial corporations. The feasibility of obtaining detailed sheets from Pension Funds and Insurance Companies in the future will be investigated as per recommendation of the ROSC Mission.

E. Balance of Payments Statistics

14. Elaborate the plan and timetable to migrate external sector statistics (ESS) to the Sixth edition of the Balance of Payments and International Investment Position Manual (BPM6) methodology, identifying actions and key target dates. The CBO is currently producing the BOP statistics based on balance of payments Manual 5. The migration to BPM6 required additional surveys from various entities to gather more detailed information. The process has been underway and we expect to finalize the migration during 2015 itself as the mapping has already been done.

15. Increase the number of staff dedicated to the compilation of ESS to ensure the smooth migration to BPM6 and development of International Investment Position (IIP). CBO has already initiated the process to recruit additional staff for this purpose.

16. Disseminate International investment position statistics and external debt. Presently IIP is prepared on an annual basis for internal use but it has not been published for various reasons. There are some issues relating to lack of firm data on household’s foreign assets and liabilities position and some data relating to state owned companies. We are in the process of narrowing and closing the gaps in data collection and hope to publish the IIP once we are confident that the data is more representative and comprehensive.

17. Improve the adjustments in the estimation of data on foreign trade, including the process to estimate trade via free economic zones, and on international trade in services, based on expanded collection and improved techniques. The information on trade between free zones and the rest of the world is not fully captured by the Directorate General of Customs as a result of the definitional aspects arising from ‘free zones’. Currently, while the data between Oman and free zones is included in the customs data, the trade between free zones and the rest of the world is not being captured. The authorities will look into the matter in depth to resolve the issue.