The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has buttressed the need for reliable national data recording to guide policy direction and economic development, a new report says.
The report also makes several recommendations to Statistics Botswana to improve its capturing of data in Botswana.
According to the IMF Technical Assistance Report titled “Botswana: Report on the National Accounts Mission, June 2021” that was released recently, a remote technical assistance (TA) mission was conducted by IMF’s Regional Technical Assistance Centre for Southern Africa (AFS) during 12–16 April 2021 to help Statistics Botswana (SB) improve the quality of the national accounts statistics.
In the report, the IMF underlines the essence of factual data capturing in economic development. “Reliable national accounts are essential for informed economic policymaking by the authorities,” the report reads. “It also provides the private sector, foreign investors, rating agencies, donors and the public in general with important inputs in their decision-making while informing economic analysis and IMF surveillance.”
The report’s System of National Accounts 2008 (2008 SNA) recommends that Botswana’s national accounts be rebased every five years and notes that rebasing requires comprehensive surveys and ideally, supply and use (of) tables to support coherent checking of data.
In a summary of the technical assessment, the IMF says Statistics Botswana (SB) has made considerable progress in populating the System Under Test (SUT) and the process is nearly complete.
“Since the last mission, the margin matrix, taxes and subsidies on products, input matrix, government consumption and capital formation have been populated,” says the report.
“However, there are a few outstanding items to be included, such as financial intermediation services indirectly measured (FISIM) and the informal sector estimates. The method for allocating margins and taxes to products were reviewed and deemed to be sound.”
According to the report, the data balancing process has commenced but several issues have been raised by the mission before the process can be finalised.
“In particular, the SB should compare the revised input-output ratios with the current input-output ratios and validate and document any significant changes, ensure intermediate consumption (IC) compared to household final consumption expenditure is reasonable when balancing the products, ensure that products such as electricity, water and telecommunications are attributed to all/most industries, and document all assumptions and data sources used in compiling and balancing the SUTs,” the report notes.
Botswana’s report shows that the country is making progress because it has started implementing the recommendations from the previous IMF mission, which was in October 2020.
It states that the October 2020 mission strongly recommended that SB review the preliminary estimates of gross value added (GVA) prior to balancing the SUT.
“SB needed to analyse the revisions to current GVA estimates, the revised input-output ratios and implicit price deflators (IPDs) before finalising the preliminary estimates,” says the IMF.
Statistics Botswana had intended to include corporate income tax in its annual estimates. However, that has not been done due to a systems challenge at Botswana Unified Revenue Service (BURS). In light of this, Statistics Botswana will obtain data from BURS once the system is upgraded.
The IMF disclosed that Statistics Botswana is receiving support from Mr. Jan Redeby, who is an African Development Bank (AfDB) consultant, to facilitate concluding the rebasing of the national accounts.