Over the past years since the establishment of the Department of Prices & Index Numbers Statistics in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1398 A.H (1978 A.D), it was witnessing huge development and shift from a mere indicator of price movements to a very precise and reliable tool in the economic analysis, where the cost of living index was transferred from being just an index calculating manually and quarterly only the prices of just one city to a monthly and automatically economic analysis tool of the prices of 16 Saudi cities: (Riyadh - Jeddah – Al-Dammam - Abha - Buraidah - Tabuk – Al-Hofuf -- Makkah - Madinah - Taif - Hail - Arar - Skaka - Najran - Baha - Jazan). Nowadays, the current index of cost of living is issued for about (406) items, for each of them, special specifications are prepared, including the most important information affecting the commodity's price and that prices are collected from a sample of selected stores based on the survey of the selling points conducted by the CDSI in (2001 A.D). The Department of Prices & Index Numbers Statistics oversees completely the programs of prices and indices as well as the issuance of the following bulletins: --
First: - Program of the Index of Cost of Living for all Population
The program of the Cost of Living Index aims at preparing an indictor for measuring any changes in the prices of a fixed market basket of goods and services during a specified period of time, where the year 1400 A. H (1980 A.D) was the actual starting of the development of the index of the cost of living for all population. The first special monthly bulletin of the index of cost of living was issued in April, 1980 in which the computer was used to calculate its indices and the base year was developed to be 1979 instead of 1970 while the weights were amended according the survey of the consumer expenditure carried out by the CDSI in 1976 A.D where approximately (205 ) goods were entered and the number of cities covered by the survey was increased to be five cities (Riyadh - Jeddah – Al-Dammam - Abha - Bureidah).
In 1983, some amendments carried out to improve and develop the program where the base year was changed to become 1983, the number of goods increased to approximately (250) items where their prices were measured based on the weights derived from the survey of the consumer expenditure which was conducted in 1980 and the number of cities covered by the survey increased also to ten cities: (Riyadh - Jeddah – Al-Dammam - Abha - Buraidah - Makkah - Madinah - Taif -- Hofuf - Tabuk).
In 1989, the Department of Prices & Index Numbers Statistics had chosen a new base year, which was 1988 instead of 1983 and the weights used in weighing the prices were modernized based on the survey of consumer spending, which conducted by the CDSI in 1985.
The Department of Prices & Index Numbers Statistics continued carrying out modifications and improvements to develop the index of the cost of living for all population and the most recent amendment made in (2001) and characterized by a number of important changes.
A new sample of items for the index of the cost of living for all population was selected based of the results of the consumer expenditure survey conducted in 1999, where the total items selected and being part of the structure of the index of the cost of living became (406), an increase of an estimated rate of 100% in the number of goods and services, in addition to the expansion of the scope of the index's regional coverage which was increased (compared to the previous coverage of the index number) to a percentage of 60% in the new regional coverage to include (16) cities of the Kingdom: - (Riyadh - Jeddah – Al-Dammam - Abha - Makkah - Medina - Buraidah - Taif - Tabuk - Hofuf - Hail - Arar - Najran - Baha - Skaka - Jazan) to represent all the administrative regions of Saudi Arabia.
The revision was not confined to update the new basket of goods and services only, but extended to include also a thorough review of methods and techniques used by the strengthening of field work, data processing and enhancing its efficiency.
And in order to achieve this goal, the National Center for Computer had introduced new programs based on a database (Oracle) as a new branch system of data entry and processing, since it could be dealt easily with this system with the maximum possible degree of independence from the management of programming such as the adjustment of price data directly on the computer screen and the possibility of the preparing of various reports.
The new publishing program, which aims at enhancing the outputs and characterize the Internet network with a new modern feature in order to maintain the status of the index of the cost of living for all population as a valued indicator for economic policies.
Second: Program of Indices of Wholesale Prices :
The CDSI started the collection of wholesale prices since 1393 A.H (1973 A.D) the cities of (Riyadh, Jeddah, Al- Dammam), aiming at measuring the average changes in prices of goods and services sold in the primary markets of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This index measures the only change of price, i.e., the changes resulting from the high or low prices. The bulletin is periodically published every three months, including indices of (160) item of the main commodities divided into the following main ten sections: --
1.Section of foods and live animals, mainly for human consumption.
2. Section beverages and tobacco.
3. Section of raw materials excluding fuels.
4. Section of mineral fuels, lubricants and related materials.
5. Section of oils, animal and vegetable fats.
6. Section of Chemicals and related products.
7. Section of manufactured goods and classified by material.
8. Section of machinery and transport equipment.
9. Section of miscellaneous manufactured goods.
10. Section of other goods.
The bulletin contains an explanation of how to prepare and calculate the index of wholesale prices, the most important movements of wholesale prices and the charts showing the percentage of change of the index of wholesale prices by sections. It also contains the following tables:
1. Table of index of wholesale prices by sections.
2. Table of index of wholesale prices by sections and chapters.
3. Table of index of wholesale prices by the sections, chapters and items.
4. Table of the annual average for the index of wholesale prices.
5. Table of relative weight for the index of wholesale prices.