Structural business statistics (sbs)

National Reference Metadata in Euro SDMX Metadata Structure (ESMS)

Compiling agency: National Statistics Office (NSO) - Malta

Time Dimension: 2015-A0

Data Provider: MT1

Data Flow: SBS_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) - Malta

1.2. Contact organisation unit

Unit B1 - Structural Business Statistics

1.5. Contact mail address

National Statistics Office (NSO),

Unit B1 - Structural Business Statistics

Lascaris, Valletta

VLT 2000


2. Metadata update Top
2.1. Metadata last certified 30/03/2018
2.2. Metadata last posted 30/03/2018
2.3. Metadata last update 16/04/2019

3. Statistical presentation Top
3.1. Data description

Structural business statistics (SBS) describes the structure, conduct and performance of economic activities, down to the most detailed activity level (several hundred economic sectors).

SBS covers all activities of the non-financial business economy with the exception of agricultural activities and personal services. Limited information is available on banking, insurance and pension funds.

 Main characteristics (variables) of the SBS data category:

  • Business demographic variables (e.g. Number of enterprises)
  • "Output related" variables (e.g. Turnover, Value added)
  • "Input related" variables: labour input (e.g. Employment, Hours worked); goods and services input (e.g. Total of purchases); capital input (e.g. Material investments)
3.2. Classification system

Statistical Classification of Economic Activities in the European Community (NACE): NACE Rev.1 was used until 2001, NACE Rev. 1.1 since 2002, and NACE Rev 2 is used from 2008 onwards. Key data were double reported in NACE Rev.1.1 and NACE Rev.2 for 2008. From 2009 onwards, only NACE Rev.2 data are available.

The regional breakdown of the EU Member States is based on the Nomenclature of Territorial Units for Statistics (NUTS). Detailed information about the consecutive NUTS Regulations can be found at Eurostat's website

The product breakdown is based on the Classification of Products by Activity (CPA) as stated in the Regulation establishing CPA 2008 and its amending  Commission Regulation (EU) No 1209/2014  (from reference year 2015 onwards)

3.3. Coverage - sector

The SBS coverage was limited to Sections C to K of NACE Rev.1.1 until 2007. Starting from the reference year 2008 data is available for Sections B to N and Division S95 of NACE Rev.2. With 2013 as the first reference year information is published on NACE codes K6411, K6419 and K65 and its breakdown.

3.4. Statistical concepts and definitions

The statistical characteristics are defined in Annex I of Commission Regulation (EC) No 250/2009

3.5. Statistical unit

SBS data is currently being reported according to the legal unit.

3.6. Statistical population

The frame for identifying the target population is the Business Register. The target population includes all legal units operating in Malta covered by NACE Rev. 2 Sections B to N and NACE Division S95. The current SBS Regulation excludes coverage for NACE Sections related to Agriculture (NACE Section A) and Personal services mainly NACE Sections P to R and NACE Division S96. The target population also differentiates between employment size classes (mainly 0 to 1, 2 to 9, 10 to 19, 20 to 49, 50 to 249 and 250 persons employed and more) and Turnover Quartiles.

The target population excludes special purpose entities. A cut-off threshold is applied on all legal units whose Turnover value is less than €7,000. 

3.7. Reference area

SBS data includes branches of foreign enterprises and excludes data related to the activities abroad of enterprises of the reporting country.

3.8. Coverage - Time


3.9. Base period

Not applicable.

4. Unit of measure Top
  • Number of enterprises and number of local units are expressed in units.
  • Monetary data are expressed in millions of €.
  • Employment variables are expressed in units.
  • Per head values are expressed in thousands of € per head.

Ratios are expressed in percentages.

5. Reference Period Top

SBS is based on the 2015 fiscal year data.

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

Year 1995 was the first year for the implementation of the Council Regulation No 58/97 (SBS Regulation).

The Council Regulation No 58/97 has been amended three times: by Council Regulation No 410/98, Commission Regulation No 1614/2002 and European Parliament and Council Regulation No 2056/2002. As a new amendment of the basic Regulation it was decided to recast the Regulation No 58/97 in order to obtain a new "clean" legal text. The European Parliament and Council Regulation No 295/2008 was adopted on 14/02/2008 and the provisions of this Regulation are applicable from the reference year 2008. Regulation No 295/2008 has been amended by Commission Regulation (EU) No 446/2014.

6.2. Institutional Mandate - data sharing

Not applicable.

7. Confidentiality Top
7.1. Confidentiality - policy

As a general principle, the NSO does not publish any confidential data. At European level, Regulation (EC) No 223/2009 on European Statistics of 11 March 2009 stipulates the need to establish common principles and guidelines ensuring the confidentiality of data used for the production of European Statistics. 

7.2. Confidentiality - data treatment

Primary confidentiality is flagged on too few enterprises, where the number of units is less than 3 and the dominance share of the largest units is 80%. Secondary confidentiality data is flagged in order to protect primary confidential data, which are suppressed so that senstive infomation is not revealed. These are identified and flagged by NSO using a common methodology applied by either statistical agencies. Thess are performed using the Tau-Argus application.

The dominance share was increased from 75% to 80% in recent years to reduce the number of flagged cells.

8. Release policy Top
8.1. Release calendar

Not applicable.

8.2. Release calendar access

Not applicable.

8.3. Release policy - user access

Not applicable.

9. Frequency of dissemination Top


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

Not applicable.

10.2. Dissemination format - Publications

Not applicable.

10.3. Dissemination format - online database

Not applicable.

10.4. Dissemination format - microdata access

Not applicable.

10.5. Dissemination format - other

Not applicable.

10.6. Documentation on methodology

Statistical metadata documentation is available in English on NSO website. It can be accessed using the following link:

10.7. Quality management - documentation

NSO makes sure that the data output is produced to the highest quality possible. A number of checks are performed on the data before being finalised. Quality Reports are uploaded on NSO's website every year.

11. Quality management Top
11.1. Quality assurance

NSO follows the Code of Practice to assure quality in SBS data. NSO;s website also provides a link to the Code of Practice.

11.2. Quality management - assessment

The standard quality criteria are provided in Concepts 12 to 15 of the European Code of Practice. The concepts cover Relevance, Accuracy, Timeliness and punctuality and Coherence and comparability. SBS data is compiled according to these standards.

12. Relevance Top
12.1. Relevance - User Needs

The main users of SBS statistics are mainly National Accounts Unit, Short-term Statistics Unit and the Business Register Unit within NSO. External users such as Eurostat and other international organisations are also users of SBS data.

There are no additional indicators publshed at National level which differ from the data transmitted to Eurostat.

12.2. Relevance - User Satisfaction

A user satisfaction survey was carried out by NSO in 2014. The result showed that 48.1% responded that the quality of requests by the SBS Unit are high/good. These results are specific to the SBS Unit. Such information can be found in the following link:

12.3. Completeness

Malta compiles all the data as requested by the SBS Regulation and makes use of the 1% rule (exemption) and the CETO flag. Malta plans to continue to make use of such exemptions in the future.

13. Accuracy Top
13.1. Accuracy - overall

The main source of error is attributed to non-response. Although reminder letters are sent to non-respondents, a number of respondents still choose not to complete the questionniare. SBS data has a good coverage as the target population is based on the Business Register and sampling errors are minimised since a greater sample size is chosen where there is a difference in the variance. 

Data processing errors are also minimised as a number of validation tools are set to detect any errors in the data from an early stage.

13.2. Sampling error

SBS 2015 data was compiled mostly on sample survey combined with an estimated administrative information from one source.

SPSS software is used to calculate the coefficients of variation by Nace Section, Group and Division and where applicable according to employment size classes. The coefficient of variation was calculated by taking the standard deviation divided by the mean, multiplied by ten and rounded to the nearest integer. The data is calculated on the grossed up sample. The coefficient of variation for the variable 11110 is zero since there is no variance in the number of enterprises.

13.3. Non-sampling error

The SBS survey is based on the target population according to the Business Register which overall has a complete coverage of the active businesses. The impact of imperfection lies in the quality of the key statistics (mainly turnover and employment) whose data is not available from administrative sources. The data is updated from financial statements (only of which are available) unless they are in abridged format.

Unit non-response is mitigated by carrying out a number of estimates from actual financial statements on individual limited liability companies. Respondents have the option to send us a copy of the financial statements instead of completing the questionnaires themselves. this incentive was introduced as a measure to increase the response rate. In order to increase the response rate, companies are sent a reminder letter, 4 weeks after the original posting of the questionnaire, and another reminder letter after another 4 weeks.

In cases of item non-response, key variables are either requested by emails or telephone calls to the respondent or estimated based on past data when available or imputted based on the availability of financial statements.

Data is edited and coded during the vetting stage - which occurs exactly after the questionniare is received. In such instances, basic logic queries are reviewed. Once the data in inputted, other in-built validations available in the data-entry application program trigger other errors of warnings which were not ditacted during the vetting stage. These are individually sorted and confirmed.

Some units chosen in the sample may turn out to be out-of-scope for example units that ceased operations during the year under review. Out of scope units approximatley amounted to XXXX units in 2015 reference year.

14. Timeliness and punctuality Top
14.1. Timeliness

SBS data is requested at t+18 months where t is the reference year. Data for 2015 (reference year) was made available in June 2017.

14.2. Punctuality

SBS 2015 was slightly delayed and was disseminated in July 2017 (t+19 months). The reason for this delay concerns the fact that SBS data was requested with more detail with respect to turnover and purchases breakdowns and was sampled and analysed at 3-digit and 4-digit breakdowns. These requests were from internal units within NSO where such details are requested every 5 years.

15. Coherence and comparability Top
15.1. Comparability - geographical

Not applicable.

15.2. Comparability - over time

The length of comparable time series is between SBS 2008 and SBS 2015.

15.3. Coherence - cross domain

The SBS sample is based on the Business Register as a population. SBS data does not have any discrapancies on the turnover values between SBS data in Annex I and Annex VIII.

SBS data is compared to National Accounts estimates and Short-term Statistics before data is finalised. Any discrapancies in the data are re-checked and confirmed when possible. The National Accounts unit update their estimates based on SBS data to finalise GDP data with the exception of certain Nace categories.  

15.4. Coherence - internal

Aggregated SBS data is always consistent with their main sub-aggregates being NACE, CPA and different employment size classes. All the required SBS Series are published.

16. Cost and Burden Top

The following calculations are based on SBS requirements for SBS 2015 reference year.

Respondents are calculated to have spent 3,285 hours in completing SBS questionnaires and an additional effort spent by NSO to complete the remaining coverage calculated as 1,111 hours.

NSO is trying to get hold of administrative tax data to be used in the calculation and quality checking of SBS data. During the compilation of SBS 2015 reference year data, NSO made use of VAT data which was used to calculate item non-response and to increase the coverage of unit non-response. Financial statements published by the Financial Authorithy were also used against a payment.

17. Data revision Top
17.1. Data revision - policy

NSO has updated it's Revision Policy recently. Revisions for SBS data are foreseen only where there is a large impact in a sector usually due to changes by a particular company. 

17.2. Data revision - practice

Three Series were revised and transmitted twice for SBS 2015 reference year data - Series 3A, 4A and 4B. A second version was transmitted due to the ommittance of 'n/a' in the value field for variables with the 1% exemption. 

18. Statistical processing Top
18.1. Source data

SBS 2015 is based on a sample survey. Administrative data sources (VAT data and financial statements) were used to increase unit non-response, item non-response and in certain instances for checking data received. Administrative sources were based on 2015 data as reference year and is received at micro level. Although the financial statements do not pose any potential deficiencies, VAT data underestimates the expenses incurred and the value of purchases. Both sources are not susceptible for revisions.

The sampling strategy used is the Neyman Allocation of strata. The strata are calculated according to employment size classes, NACE Division and Turnover quartiles. A threshold is set which excludes any units with a turnover value of less than €7000. 

The frame is based on the Business Register. Principal and secondary activities are based on the value added (when data is available) or turnover. The Register is updated often using several internal and external sources. A sample is drawn yearly to reflect an current changes in the sectors.

18.2. Frequency of data collection

Annual data collection

18.3. Data collection

The SBS questionnaire is designed on a folded A3 paper and is sent by post to respondents. A soft copy can be emailed to respondents is requested. 

Non-respondents are sent a reminder letter and followed-up by telephone. 

18.4. Data validation

NSO validate the data before it is transmitted. In general, at the vetting stage, the data is checked for the common logical errors and for item non-response. the data is analysed and compared to previous years' data for big fluctuations in the data. A number of logical checks are in-place in the data-entry application program that trigger the validations to be checked or confirmed. Further checks are done at micro-level data where the data of the units in the sample is compared to previous year data (if available). Sector ratio checks are also carried out in line with Eurostat guidelines. These generallyare a ratio of two computed variables whose value can be an error or a warning. These validation checks are done through a series of ratio calculations and the range between which the value must fall is known. These ratios are worked out at micro-level data. 

 During the data analsis stage, values for each stratum are compared with the values for previous years. The total weighted sample's turnover is compared to the total turnover from the population. Priority is given to the highest percentage changes first and gradually move on to smaller sectors and/or smaller percentage changes. Any notabile spikes or drops must be confirmed or corrected. These are manually checked into more detail. At the data transmission stage, these validation checks are worked on aggregate level of data where any values outside the accepted ranges must be confirmed with an explanation.

18.5. Data compilation

Administrative data is used for imputations to cover non-response. Item non-response is checked or confirmed with respondents and in case of no contact it is checked with financial statements if available. Imputations from past data is done in cases where only one unit is in a strata exist but the questionnaire was not received and data from administrative sources either. A number of estimates are calculated to increase the responses in each strata to be representative enough of the population in the same strata.

18.6. Adjustment

The reference period applied is January - December 2015. If the financial year of an enterprise ends between January and June, then the 2016 end of the year accounts data are used for resference year 2015 (if available). These are taken aboard without any adjustments

19. Comment Top

Not applicable.

Related metadata Top

Annexes Top