Harmonised index of consumer prices (HICP) (prc_hicp)

National Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: National Statistics Office (NSO)

Time Dimension: 2017-A0

Data Provider: MT1

Data Flow: HICP_ESMS_A

Eurostat metadata
Reference metadata
1. Contact
2. Metadata update
3. Statistical presentation
4. Unit of measure
5. Reference Period
6. Institutional Mandate
7. Confidentiality
8. Release policy
9. Frequency of dissemination
10. Accessibility and clarity
11. Quality management
12. Relevance
13. Accuracy
14. Timeliness and punctuality
15. Coherence and comparability
16. Cost and Burden
17. Data revision
18. Statistical processing
19. Comment
Related Metadata
Annexes (including footnotes)

For any question on data and metadata, please contact: EUROPEAN STATISTICAL DATA SUPPORT


1. Contact Top
1.1. Contact organisation

National Statistics Office (NSO)

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Unit A5: Price Statistics, Directorate A - Economic and Business Statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

National Statistics Office (NSO), Unit A5: Price Statistics, Lascaris, Valletta, VLT2000, Malta

2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 31/03/2017
2.2. Metadata last posted 31/03/2017
2.3. Metadata last update 31/03/2017

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

The Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices (HICP) is intended to provide institutions, governments and economic and social partners with a set of harmonised and reliable statistics on the price mechanism. Although the basket of goods and services varies from country to country, all Member States follow the same set of regulations, which can be considered to be the backbone of the HICP.

3.2. Classification system

COICOP/HICP (Classification of Individual Consumption by Purpose adapted to the needs of Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices).

3.3. Coverage - sector

HICPs cover the whole household sector, more precisely the goods and services that are acquired by households.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The HICP measures price change in a basket of goods and services typically consumed in Malta and Gozo and is calculated according to a harmonised approach and a single set of definitions. The HICP is a Laspeyres type formula.

  1. Monthly data: Indices (HICP: 1996=100, HICP: 2005=100, HICP: 2015=100, HICP at constant taxes 2005=100, HICP at constant taxes 2015=100), Annual rates of change, Monthly rates of change, 12-month average rate of change.
  2. Early estimates of the overall inflation rate for the euro area, are computed on a monthly basis, usually on the last working day of the reference month. They are called 'HICP flash estimates'.
  3. Annual data: Average index and rate of change, Country weights, Item weights, Government administered prices (HICP-AP).
3.5. Statistical unit

Each published index or rate of change refers to the 'Final monetary consumption expenditure' of the whole Maltese household sector.

3.6. Statistical population

The target statistical universe is the 'household final monetary consumption expenditure' (HFMCE) within the economic territories of the countries compiling the HICP. The household sector to which the definition refers includes all individuals or groups of individuals irrespective of, in particular, the type of area in which they live, their position in the income distribution and their nationality or residence status. These definitions follow the national accounts concept in the European System of Accounts (ESA 2010). HICPs comprise all purchases by households within the territory of a country; those by both resident and non-resident households (i.e. ' domestic concept'). HICPs cover the prices paid for goods and services in monetary transactions. The prices measured are those actually faced by consumers. The HICPs exclude interest and credit charges, regarding them as financing costs rather than consumption expenditure.

3.7. Reference area

The Maltese HICP reflects the entire area of Malta and Gozo but price collection is carried out in the most important localities.

3.8. Coverage - Time

HICPs for Malta are available from 1996 onwards.

3.9. Base period

For HICP the index reference period was 2010 = 100 until December 2015. From January 2016 onwards, the index reference period is 2015=100.

4. Unit of measure Top

The following units are used:

  1. Index (which is technically unit less). This is defined as the ratio of the price of the basket in a given year to its price in the base year, expressed in percentage form. However, the HICP can be thought of as the amount the average consumer would have to spend in a given year to buy the same basic goods and services (that would cost 100 monetary units in the base period);
  2. Percentage change on the same period of the previous year (annual rates);
  3. Percentage change on the previous period (monthly rate);
  4. Percentage share of the total (weights).

5. Reference Period Top


6. Institutional Mandate Top
6.1. Institutional Mandate - legal acts and other agreements

Regulation (EU) 2016/792 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 11 May 2016 (OJ L 135/11) on harmonised indices of consumer prices and the house price index, repealing Council Regulation (EC) No 2494/95 of 23 October 1995 (OJ L 257/1) and resets the legal basis for establishing a harmonised methodology for the compilation of the HICP, the euro area and the EU inflation figures.

This regulation gathers previous implementing legislation and covers over 20 specific governing issues, e.g. flash estimates, quality of weights, transmission and dissemination of sub-indices, coverage of goods and services, geographical and population coverage, minimum standards for the treatment of tariffs, insurance, health, education and social protection services, timing of entering prices, treatment of price reductions, treatment of service charges, revisions policy, new index reference periods, temporal coverage of price collection and sampling, replacement and quality adjustment procedures, seasonal items, and HICP at constant tax rates.

Recommendations on the treatment of rents, telecommunications and health care have also been agreed with Member States. All relevant regulations as well as further methodological details can be found in the HICP section on Eurostat's website under Methodology => Legislation. In addition, data is collected subject to the provisions of the Malta Statistics Authority Act of 2000.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing


7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

At National level: Confidentiality is one of the major principles guiding the activities of the NSO.

Article 40 of the MSA Act stipulates the restrictions on the use of information and in Article 41, the prohibition of disclosure of information. Furthermore, Section IX of the Act (Offences and Penalties) lays down the measures to be taken in case of unlawful exercise of any officer of statistics regarding confidentiality of data. No cases of breaches in the law have ever been recorded.

Since its inception, the NSO has always operated within a culture of strict confidentiality to which it is also bound by the provisions of the Data Protection Act. This Act, which came fully into effect on July 15, 2003, seeks to protect individuals against the violation of their privacy by the processing of personal data.

Refer also to the NSO policy "Confidentiality of Personal and Commercial Data" - http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/documents/42577/1000335/Confidentiality-of-personal-and-commercial-data

Also further information on access to microdata is available on the NSO's website through: http://nso.gov.mt/en/Services/Microdata/Pages/Access-to-Microdata.aspx

During 2009, the NSO has set up a Statistical Disclosure Committee to ensure that statistical confidentiality is observed, especially when requests for microdata are received by the NSO.

Upon employment, staff is informed of the rules and duties pertaining to confidential information and its treatment. According to the MSA Act, before commencing work, every employee is required to take an oath of secrecy whose text is included in the Act.

At European level: Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European statistics (recital 24 and Article 20(4)) of 11 March 2009 (OJ L 87, p. 164), stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European statistics and the access to those confidential data with due account for technical developments and the requirements of users in a democratic society.

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

According to policy rules (see point 7.1).

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

All releases are published and disseminated at 11:00 hrs (local time) as scheduled in the News Release Calendar which is available on the NSO website (http://nso.gov.mt/en/News_Releases/Release_Calendar/Pages/News-Release-Calendar.aspx) and includes a 3 month advance notice (the current month and the forthcoming two months).

All efforts are made so that the scheduled News Releases are published on the date and time announced. However, in the occurrence of unforeseen circumstances, News Releases may be deferred to a later time or to another date. In the latter instance, the NSO shall indicate clearly this deferral on the Advance Release Calendar with at least 3 working days notice.

8.2. Release calendar access


8.3. Release policy - user access

The updated dissemination policies will soon be uploaded on the NSO website as revisions of certain policies are underway. At the same time, detailed price indices are released on the publication database https://nso.gov.mt/StatDB/

9. Frequency of dissemination Top

Harmonised consumer price indices are produced on a monthly basis.

10. Accessibility and clarity Top
10.1. Dissemination format - News release

The 'Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices' news release sheds light over the 12 main COICOP groups of the HICP, and it is issued on a monthly basis. Everyone has access to the same information simultaneously. All news releases are regulated by an internal dissemination policy.

The 'Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices' news releases can be accessed through: http://nso.gov.mt/en/News_Releases/View_by_Unit/Unit_A5/Price_Statistics/Pages/Harmonised-Index-of-Consumer-Prices.aspx

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Not applicable.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

HICP data is not available on the NSO's online statistical database StatDB http://nso.gov.mt/statdb/start

Harmonised Indices of Consumer Prices (HICP) data can be accessed on the Eurostat's statistical database through: http://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/web/hicp/data/database

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Micro data is not disseminated.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Formal requests are received through the NSO's website (http://nso.gov.mt/en/Services/Pages/Request-for-Information.aspx) demanding something specific about the HICP, the HPI or the RPI.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

The document ‘The RPI and the HICP Manual’ explaining in detail the methodologies used for the monthly working of the Retail Price Index and the Harmonised index of Consumer Price is available on our website. The document, which is primarily intended for use by economic and social analysts and other researchers, can be accessed from the link underneath:


10.7. Quality management - documentation

The Eurostat's Compliance monitoring Report of 2007 gives Eurostat's review of the HICP for Malta in the context of quality assurance. The report can be accessed through:


11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

Specialised personnel check all prices every month. Any abnormal price movement is identified and discussed with the price collector reporting that price change. If a plausible explanation for that price change is provided, the price is accepted. Otherwise, the price collector is asked to check the price again. One of the reports available to identify grey areas is a sheet pinpointing those items which have an annual rate or monthly rate higher than or equal to 5 per cent. Moreover, another report that highlights the major changes taking place at the 4-digit COICOP is available. This facilitates validation by qualified personnel.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

HICPs are deemed to be the best measure of inflation for the Euro area and the European Union as a whole as well as for the comparisons of inflation across countries for which it is compiled. The commitment is to ameliorate the indices even further in some specific areas. 

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The key users of the HICP are the Central Bank of Malta (CBM) and the Economic Policy Division (EPD) within the Ministry for Finance (MFIN). The CBM normally requests detailed information to produce forecasts, whereas the EPD is more interested in explanations of certain price trends.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

The channels of communication between NSO and our users are always open. Moreover, we always comply with their requests within three working days. This ensures a high degree of user satisfaction.

In general, user satisfaction is measured via a user survey. The last survey was carried out in 2014 by the National Statistics Office to measure the degree to which it meets its obligations towards its users.

The results were published in a dedicated news release, and can be found at: https://nso.gov.mt/en/News_Releases/View_by_Unit/Unit_01/Methodology_and_Research/Pages/User-Satisfaction-Survey.aspx

Results about the Price Statistics Unit were as follows:

75.9% regarded the quality of the 'Consumer Prices' news releases as high/good, 87.7% regarded them as timely, whilst 78.9% found them as useful.

With regards to the quality of requested data, 55.6% believed this was of high/good quality, whereas 66.7% believed that the requested data on 'Consumer Prices' was timely.

12.3. Completeness

All required statistics are produced.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The overall accuracy of the HICP is deemed to be high especially in terms of the methodological soundness of price and weight sources and compliance to commission regulations. The data sources for the weights are National Accounts data, Household Budgetary Survey data and Trade data, whereas most prices are usually collected physically from the local retailers and service providers. However, there are a few instances whereby prices are collected via mail, email, telephone and the internet. The type of survey and price collection methods employed, guarantee good coverage and timeliness. The sample of outlets is made up of all those organisations which are considered to be representative of the markets in which they operate.

13.2. Sampling error

Not available.

13.3. Non-sampling error

Human errors in coding and data entry are the two main types of non-sampling errors. Besides, the weighting scheme is normally based on different assumptions which might give rise to non-sampling errors.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

In general, the HICP is published around 15 days after the end of the reference month.

14.2. Punctuality

Considering News Releases related to Harmonised Index of Consumer Prices, none were late (i.e. released after 11.10am) between January 2015 and January 2017.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Intra-country comparability is not an issue in the Maltese context as all localities in Malta and Gozo are directly comparable due to the small size of Malta. Inter-country comparability of HICP across countries is regarded to be high. As such, statistics can be deemed to be comparable between geographical areas.

15.2. Comparability - over time

HICP data are fully comparable over time. There have been several improvements in methodology with the aim of improving reliability and comparability of the HICP. These changes may have introduced breaks in time series. However back calculations under the newer standards are frequently performed when the appropriate basic data is available. For instance, the basket of representative items is slightly modified as deemed necessary on a yearly basis. Whenever new items are introduced, a break in time series might be introduced as data might not be comparable over time for certain COICOP codes.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

The HICP and RPI (Retail Price Index) are two separate measures of inflation. The main difference between the two indices is that the HICP takes into account every Euro spent in Malta and Gozo (domestic concept) irrespective of whether the purchaser is a resident or non-resident, whereas the national CPI takes into account every Euro spent by the Maltese in Malta and Gozo. The main characteristics that illustrate the differences between the two indices are:


  • 12 Divisions
  • Newly Significant Goods and Services introduced every year
  • Chain Linked Index
  • Weights add up to 1,000
  • Accommodation Services are included
  • Regulated by European Commission
  • Monitored by Eurostat


  • 10 categories
  • The list of goods and services is based primarily on the Household Budgetary Survey
  • Fixed Base Index
  • Weights add up to 100
  • Accommodation Services and Retirement home services are NOT included
  • Guidelines specified internally
  • Monitored by RPI Monitoring Board
15.4. Coherence - internal

HICPs are internally coherent. Higher level aggregations are derived from detailed indices according to well-defined procedures.

16. Cost and Burden Top

The cost associated with the production of the HICP and RPI is estimated to be €125,000. No information is available on the burden. 

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

HICP series, including back data, are revisable under the terms set in Commission Regulation (EC) No 1921/2001 of 28 September 2001. The published HICP data may be revised for mistakes, new or improved information, and changes in the system of harmonised rules. When data are revised, they are flagged with the letter ‘r’.

17.2. Data revision - practice

The index is revised whenever necessary. Last revision was held in 2012 due to more accurate data being made available by the local public transport provider. The revision did not bring about a break in series and back data didn’t require any adjustments.

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

Sample size based on National Accounts figures primarily (reference year 2017): Over 10,000 price observations for over 440 commodities are collected from around 990 retail outlets. All prices are collected nationally.

Number of price items every month: over 440
(January 2017)

01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages: 111

02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco: 5

03 Clothing and footwear: 60

04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels: 24

05 Furnishings, household equipment and routine maintenance of the house: 50

06 Health: 24

07 Transport: 19

08 Communications: 6

09 Recreation and culture: 60

10 Education: 11

11 Restaurants and hotels: 20

12 Miscellaneous goods and services: 50


Number of collected prices at the lowest classification level (reference year 2017)


All-items: more than 10,000

01 Food and non-alcoholic beverages 4974

02 Alcoholic beverages, tobacco 282

03 Clothing and footwear 1352 

04 Housing, water, electricity, gas and other fuels 173 

05 Furnishings, household equip. and routine maintenance of the house 1165

06 Health 207 

07 Transport 67 

08 Communications

09 Recreation and culture 336 

10 Education 11

11 Restaurants and hotels 609

12 Miscellaneous goods and services 980

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Generally speaking, prices are collected over more than five working days towards the middle of the calendar month to which the index pertains. However, in the case of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit and fresh fish, price collection takes place over a period of more than one working week. Accommodation services are monitored once every four months and the air fares are collected on a daily basis, two months in advance. Data from surveys (for example for child-minding, vets, GP’s, consultants, dentists, etc) are collected every quarter.

18.3. Data collection

Outlet selection

Data are collected from the most representative retail outlets of the country. The turnover figures of outlets are considered to be good proxies of the importance of the shop in the local scenario. Price collectors are also consulted when selecting a replacement outlet especially when the turnover figure of a new establishment is not available. It is normally quite easy to identify the most important shops across Malta and Gozo, even without the relevant data available, due to the small size of the Maltese state. Nevertheless, it should be noted that no weighting frame is used to distinguish between outlets.

Techniques of product selection and specification

Three criteria are used in the product selection process:

  • Product must be representative (sought after / in demand);
  • Product must be suitable for regular pricing; and
  • Product is likely to be available in the long-run.

Once products have been chosen, price collectors are required to price the same items every month. If a product is discontinued, the price of a similar (homogenous) product is selected. To facilitate the replacement process, a set of specifications are defined for each product being priced. The most important specifications are the unit weight and the brand of the product. However, the less homogenous a product group is, the tighter are the specifications.

18.4. Data validation

Data have to pass two consistency tests before publishing. Any drastic changes in the index observed from month to month are investigated. Unless an error is detected, an explanation is provided. Moreover, the series of some seasonal items are expected to follow more or less the same pattern over time. When this is not the case, these are investigated accordingly.

18.5. Data compilation


The sources of the HICP weights are National Accounts data, Household Budgetary Survey data and Trade data.

Computation of the lowest-level indices

The Arithmetic Means are used in the compilation of the elementary aggregates.

Treatment of missing items and replacements

Missing prices are carried forward for three consecutive months. During these three months interviewers collect the price of a similar product. The new price together with the specifications of this new product is stored in the system but it is not used for the compilation of the index. If the problem persists in the third month, the new replacement product is introduced. Sometimes this also requires quality adjustment.

Introduction of newly significant goods and services

Newly significant goods and services are introduced every year, whenever a good or service is deemed to be representative. The new weight is usually calculated using National Accounts data.

Treatment of price reductions

Sales prices and reduced prices are included in the index as long as they are universally available to all consumers. It is vital however that the sale prices considered are reasonable, for instance, only sale prices of up to 50% are considered for Clothing and Footwear items.

Treatment of seasonal items

The list of Seasonal Items includes: Fresh Vegetables, Fresh Fruit, Fresh Fish, Clothing and Footwear. Class-confined seasonal weights are applied every month to Fresh Vegetables, Fresh Fruits and Fresh Fish. When a product pertaining to these classes is out of-season, its weight is set to zero. Strict annual weights are used in the compilation of the Clothing and Footwear indices. When a product pertaining to these classes is out-of-season, the price is estimated using counter-seasonal estimation.

18.6. Adjustment

Adjustment for quality differences

If the price collector fails to price a particular product for three consecutive months, a new replacement (similar) product is introduced using the bridged overlap method. The method essentially boils down to estimating the base price of the replacement product. The new base price is calculated on the basis of the price movements exhibited by similar products pertaining to the same locality of the outlet in which the change occurred or across all localities in Malta and Gozo. The direct comparison method is used in the case of clothing and footwear or whenever the products being compared are deemed to be homogenous.

The hedonic method of quality adjustment, which removes any price differential attributed to a change in quality, is used in the case of cars, motorcycles, computers and others.

19. Comment Top

Not applicable.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top