- Central Bank stepping towards ease of access to data
Reliable and timely economic and financial information is necessary for making the right decisions, particularly related to growth, development and stability. Accordingly, various institutions worldwide engage in economic and financial data collection, analysis and dissemination. As the apex body in the economic and financial sector in Sri Lanka, the Central Bank of Sri Lanka (CBSL), since its establishment in 1950, has been performing a key role in collecting, analysing and compiling data for facilitating the formulation of monetary and other macroeconomic policies, as well as in disseminating data for the use of other stakeholders, including the Government, general public and the international community.
Evolution of data dissemination by the CBSL
In the early days, the CBSL commenced publishing data through the print medium which was the best available method at that time. However, this method has its limitations in making data available for users at the right time at the right place. With the breakthrough of internet use in the commercial world in the early-1990s, the field of communication was revolutionised through connecting data owners and data users digitally within a single platform, where data could be disseminated and accessed at anytime from anywhere. These technological developments brought easy accessibility, cost efficiency, user-friendliness and productivity enhancement into the data collection, compilation and dissemination process over traditionally used methods for such purposes.
Leveraging those technological developments, the CBSL introduced its corporate website as the first digitalisation initiative in 1996. Since then, it has been making a constant effort to make use of new technology, to deepen and widen the financial and economic data coverage published through its website to cater to the increasing and varying demand of different stakeholders. At present, the CBSL regularly publishes press releases, periodical issues, survey findings and other statistical information on various economic and financial activities through its website for the benefit of local as well as foreign users.
Data Library of the CBSL – electronic database
Taking a step further in its endeavour to enhance the efficiency in data dissemination, the Statistics Department of CBSL, with the technical collaboration of the Information Technology Department, established a Data Library, an electronic database to accommodate the increasing need for timely data access. Presently, the Data Library disseminates a comprehensive coverage of data by different departments of the CBSL compared to disseminating it under various topics and several modes as had been done before.
The Data Library is a comprehensive database consisting of time series data on a variety of fields. It is a useful source for accessing country specific data/statistics. It comprises data relating to the real, monetary, external, financial and fiscal sectors of Sri Lanka under the topics depicted below. The data can be retrieved in the frequencies of daily, monthly, and quarterly, half yearly, annually and also by the census year. It could facilitate numerous data requirements of users by enabling the creation of own queries and generating, downloading and saving data tables for further reference.
Sector coverage of the Data Library
As the first phase, the data library was launched through the intranet of the CBSL for the benefit of researchers. With the rising demand for economic and financial sector data from the external users, the Data Library was opened for the access of the general public on 20 February 2017 via the CBSL external website, as the second phase. As of today, economic and financial sector data collected from nine internal departments i.e. Bank Supervision, Domestic Operations, Economic Research, International Operations, Macroprudential Surveillance, Payments and Settlements, Public Debt, Statistics and Supervision of Non-Bank Financial Institutions and several external institutions are shared with the general public via the Data Library.
Data Library architecture
The way forward
The Statistics Department and the Information Technology Department of CBSL are collaboratively making continuous efforts to improve the user-friendliness and the data coverage of the Data Library in line with reputed international databases. Accordingly, facilitating users with the options of downloading data in different formats and retrieving data in graphical illustrations have been planned as further improvements to the Data Library.
Guide to accessing the Data Library
Data users can access the Data Library by following the steps described below.