In view of its organizational place and the assigned duties, the Modeling and Economic Information Management Office of the Deputy of Economic Affairs and Finance has put designing the Economic and Finance Databank of Iran in its agenda by aiming at providing update and official statistics and information with emphasize on the performance scope of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance. The importance of the agenda comes from the fact that moving towards development and planning in any economy could not be possible unless by having access to transparent, accurate and comprehensive information as well as presenting a scientific and expertise analysis on that information. Lack of economic transparency prevents the realization of making an accurate and comprehensive economic planning and adopting a transparent economic policy.
The economic transparency is important in the sense as the first step in taking any economic policy making approach and studying the issues involved in it is to have a detailed and clear understanding of its existing situation. Transparency in information eliminates asymmetric information.
As Stiglitz, the significant American economist points out, transparency is the other name of information and as transparency increases, the asymmetry in information reduces to minimum. The existence of accurate and on time statistics and information provides free access to information as a criteria in evaluating a good governance; and the continuity and updated information flow provides grounds in making long term planning. Thus, not only policymakers in macro policies will be able to benefit from advantages of establishing an information system, but also, all individuals in a community and economic activists in different access levels could benefit from the system in order to make better decision by using the required information.
Structure and Method of Presenting Data in the System
The Economic and Financial Databank of Iran has been designed and implemented by emphasizing on the performance scope of the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance. Based on this perspective, it presents statistics and information in capital market, privatization, foreign investment, tax, customs and treasury sectors in an annual, seasonal, monthly and daily frequency. Another characteristic of the Economic and Financial Databank is presenting statistics and information on the performance scope of the subject ministry in province level in seasonal and annual frequency. In view of the place of Ministry of Economic Affairs and Finance in planning and launching macro economic policies in the country, this Databank presents statistics and information in the areas of national accounts, job market, income distribution indice, and industry and agriculture sector.
Method of Data Presentation
To facilitate the access, indexes are presented in groups and a tree-structure hierarchy. In addition, it is possible to search the index name as well. The user will observe the data, after selecting the range, scope, frequency, time interval and his/her required indexes. In addition, the user can search based on the quantity or title of indice in the received data.
From geographic perspective, the possibility of filtering data for one or more provinces has been also provided in the provincial domain level. In addition, the same capability has been designed for international data. In terms of frequency, the data is available in annual, seasonal, monthly and daily basis as necessary.
Furthermore, the user can receive the data files in Microsoft Excel format. With this possibility, the user can easily utilize the data in different statistical or graphical analysis and use it in other specialized softwares particularly in economic modeling softwares.
In architecture of this system, the data layer is completely separated from application layer and this type of design, provides the possibility of linking the system to different analytical and business intelligence tools.
Bilinguality (Persian- English)
By considering the post-Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action- [the nuclear agreement of Iran] atmosphere, and the increased interactions with the international institutes and foreign investors, the need is felt to provide international institutes and enterprises, investors and economic activists with official information on Iran’s economy. For this purpose, the system is designed in bilingual format (Persian- English).
User-friendliness and ease of use considerations
The system is designed and implemented web-based, and the principles of user friendliness and ease of usehave been observed in possible extent, to allow the user find his/her data without confusion and in simple steps. The user interface is designed to be “responsive”; that is, the mobile, tablet and desktop users can observe a suitable version that would fit their devices’ screens. In addition, the system can be run on different operation systems such as Windows, IOS, Android as well as common browsers such as IE (version 10 and higher), Firefox and Chrome.
By Metadata it means a set of information that describes data details. Metadata shows the nature of indice with more transparency. In fact, by considering different statistical definitions on economic data, this system contains Metadata for each one of the variables and indice to allow the user gain information on the units, data collection sources, frequencies and time intervals available, last updated data in the system and definitions and explanations on the indexes before receiving the data. If the user receives Excel output from data, this Metadata will be also available in a separate sheet in the received file.