Tue | Sep 26, 2017

Jamaica launches one-stop web portal for economic data

Published:Friday | February 17, 2017 | 2:00 AMMcPherse Thompson
Director General of the Statistical Institute of Jamaica Carol Coy and Bank of Jamaica Governor Brian Wynter speak at the press launch of the National Summary Data Page on Wednesday, February 15, 2017.

Investors and other stakeholders, including actors in international capital markets, will now have access to timely and reliable data on Jamaica through a national summary page with easy access to information which the International Monetary Fund (IMF) has identified as critical for monitoring economic conditions and policies.

The information will be made available simultaneously to all users, including policymakers, and domestic and international stakeholders such as rating agencies, thereby bringing greater data transparency, the IMF said in a statement on the launch of the summary data page, which is a component of the Enhanced General Data Dissemination System (e-GDDS).

The data page minimises the lag in dissemination by linking directly to files stored on the Web servers of the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), Statistical Institute of Jamaica and the Ministry of Finance & the Public Service.

Stakeholders are therefore guaranteed the most up-to-date data for those agencies on a single Web page, the national summary data page.

First in Caribbean

Jamaica is the first country in the Caribbean to implement the recommendations of the e-GDSS, endorsed by the IMF in May 2015, by publishing critical data through a national summary data page to support improved data transparency.

Speaking at the launch of the data page in downtown Kingston on Wednesday, BOJ Governor Brian Wynter said timely and reliable statistical information is vital for the functioning of a market economy.

"Without good data, government, businesses and consumers have no basis to understand the environment enough to make appropriate plans and good decisions," he said.

"The government needs good data to set goals and targets and to monitor progress. Rating agencies, international development partners, investors, journalists and the public need the same data to assess what government is doing," Wynter added.

An effective framework for producing timely and reliable economic statistics is also important for transparency, which underlies good governance, said the central bank governor.

Promotes efficiency

He said the publication of national economic data on a timely basis promotes efficiency in financial markets, encourages fiscal discipline, discourages public-sector negligence and corruption, and allows policymakers and regulators to assess and manage risk better.

Wynter said that having implemented the e-GDSS, the next step is to achieve the top standard for national economic data dissemination, the Special Data Dissemination Standard.

He said that apart from being good for government and policy planners, and giving some bragging rights as a country, all the economic information that stakeholders need, including the fiscal accounts, balance of payments, trade figures, gross domestic product, employment numbers, population trends and inflation will now be in one place.

"Increased transparency and greater availability of data is also a boost to economic stability because more information enables better economic decisions by everyone, creates an atmosphere of greater predictability, and minimises the possibility of erratic behaviour that could negatively impact inflation or exchange rates," Wynter said.

"Another benefit is that this display of greater transparency and accountability is of great interest to international rating agencies and will contribute to better credit ratings for the country," the governor added.

BOJ said a mission from the IMF's statistics department visited Jamaica between December 7 and 13 last year to assist the authorities with the implementation of the e-GDSS.

Data linked to the national summary data page correspond to data described in the IMF Data Dissemination Standards Bulletin Board and follows a public schedule of data releases known as the advance release calendar.

mcpherse.thompson@gleanerjm.com