State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) Acting Governor Dr Murtaza Syed launched on Wednesday the EasyData portal that offers economic and financial time series data on more than 7,000 variables.

With aim to become transparent, SBP launches EasyData portal

Dr Syed, prior to a panel discussion, stated that the initiative was aimed at modernising Pakistan and its economic data. “We need to become accountable and transparent and this is the first step to fulfil the aim,” he said. “Communication is the key now and we are making a lot of improvements there.”

The EasyData portal offers indicator- as well as data set-wise information to users who can sign up by using their email ids. The data of rupee against the US dollar dates back to the creation of the central bank in 1957 while the interest rate data starts from July 2015. A user can check remittances data from year 1972 onwards. However, the data of Kibor is only available from 2008 onwards. Several other indicators are also available on the EasyData portal.

The portal also has a page where daily figures of the stock market indices are available. Similarly, all data and archive that is available under SBP’s economic data tab is also available on the portal.Moderating the panel discussion, SBP Chief Spokesperson Abid Qamar said that the SBP Act also stressed on transparency and hence, EasyData was direly needed. He announced that the central bank planned to release podcasts and explainers to facilitate the public.During the panel discussion, journalist Khurram Husain stressed that there was a general lack of awareness on economic issues in Pakistan. “The general economic narrative excludes interest rate and monetary policy,” he said. “There was a need for improvement in that area.”

According to him, data and its conceptualisation were two main dimensions that shape the economic narrative. He further stated that different people could draw different conclusions from the same data. “Therefore, conceptual rigour is needed to tell what data is and is not saying,” he said. “The economy cannot be captured in a snapshot. It is a moving thing and has a direction so there arises a need for conceptual clarity. It will impart discipline in the public.”He recalled that every government decries inheriting a broken economy which was due to lack of conceptual rigour. If the SBP can make high quality data available and teach people what they can and cannot say, then the central bank has done its part, he said.

He recommended the SBP to release data of net international reserves as well which, according to him, was a more meaningful metric than foreign exchange reserves.Lahore University of Management Sciences Head of the Economics Department Dr Ali Hasanain highlighted that lack of data and targeted efforts created the need for such discussions.

“Sindh and Punjab often do not agree on how much water is flowing. It is a political problem and the data has been missing,” he said. “We have a void in policy focus organisations because economists do not have space to flourish .They are preoccupied with putting up basic data.” He called for making efforts to lower the barriers to understand economics. Absence of regular updating of data is also a hurdle, he said. SBP-held foreign exchange reserves fall another $59mn, now stand at $10.5bn Data Analytics Expert Maha Rehman stated that data collection and availability in Pakistan improved during Covid-19. She stressed that there is a critical need for sharing data across multiple departments and integrating them in such a manner that they have consistency. The methodology of compilation of data should be shared as well.

Source: This news is originally published by brecorder

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