20 - 26 December 2000

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Central Bank react to Dr Sant’s allegations
Insists it is not infringing International Monetary Fund Regulations

Recent press reports have seen the Leader of the Opposition Alfred Sant claim the central bank is contravening the IMF's regulations governing the General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) when the Bank provides an advance copy of its publications, particularly the Quarterly Review, to the Minister of Finance.

Dr Sant’s statement effectively accused the Central Bank of misleading the IMF . The Central Bank issued a statement saying that Dr Sant’s accusations would be detrimental to Malta's relations with the IMF, and also to the Bank's reputation and integrity, The Bank said it believes it is in the public interest to set out the facts to show that the allegation is without foundation.

The Central Bank issued the following clarifications:

1. The GDDS is intended to assist in improving data and statistical practices among IMF member countries. Participation is voluntary. One of the conditions for participating is the identification, where it occurs, of internal government access to data before release.

2. In September 2000, Malta became the 12th IMF member to volunteer to participate. This means that all Malta's official data compilation agencies are committed to using the GDDS as a framework for statistical development.

3. As for the Central Bank, the following procedure has been adopted. Five weeks after the reference month, the monetary and financial aggregates compiled by the Bank are released to the public through a press release, which also includes a technical commentary, and by being put on the Central Bank's website. At this point, the GDDS terms and conditions have been satisfied. In particular, the general public has access to the data; and there has been no internal government access to the data before release.

4. Some two months after their first release to the public, the same data and their breakdown are published in the Quarterly Review. At the same time that the Bank sends the proof copy of the Review to the printer, a copy is forwarded for information to the Minister of Finance so that he can respond to any queries from the media.

5. The IMF has confirmed that the circumstances and sequence of the release by the Central Bank of Malta of monetary data are consistent: with the Central Bank's statement on the IMF's website that there is no internal government access to data before release; and with the nature of the GDDS generally. The IMF recalls that rather than recommending a specific and uniform set of practices for all participating countries, emphasis in the GDDS is placed on achieving transparency. In this regard, the IMF believes that the information posted by the Central Bank on its website adds an important measure of transparency with respect to its compilation and dissemination practices.

6. It should be clear from the above to any unbiased observer that the Central Bank is not failing to observe the IMF regulations which apply to the GDDS.

The Business Times, Network House, Vjal ir-Rihan San Gwann SGN 07
Tel: (356) 382741-3, 382745-6 | Fax: (356) 385075 | e-mail: editorial@networkpublications.com.mt