Drive underway for transparent data

Updated: 2011-12-24 07:44

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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New system of calculating statistics will make its debut early next year

BEIJING - The headquarters of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) will collect data directly from more than 600,000 businesses nationwide starting next year. The move is aimed at bypassing the influence of local governments and obtaining more accurate economic figures, said Ma Jiantang, the NBS chief, on Friday.

The annual statistics for 2011, including GDP and industrial output, will be calculated under the new system for the first time, Ma said at the annual National Statistics Work Conference in Beijing.

The NBS plans to release the figures in March.

"It is the most dramatic revolution in China's statistics system in 60 years," Ma said. "Only businesses will be allowed to report or modify the data," he added.

The bureau is building a database of qualified enterprises in the industrial, retail, service and real estate sectors. Those companies' accountants will be obliged to obtain the relevant qualifications before they report data to the NBS. The data will be uploaded through the Internet and automatically calculated by the processing system.

"The track of data changes will be shown by the system, so we can avoid the influence of local governments and thus increase the transparency of the statistics," said Pang Xiaolin, director-general of the department of urban surveys at the NBS.

"China's statistic figures will 'run naked' starting next year," he said.

Vice-Premier Li Keqiang recently urged an acceleration in the reform of statistical methods and a decrease in administrative interference in economic indexes.

Accurate statistics will help provide efficient adjustments to the macroeconomic policies for stabilizing consumer prices and promoting economic growth, Li said.

Fan Jianping, head of the economic forecasting department at the State Information Center, said that political interests can sometimes lead to local authorities chasing "glorious" GDP figures, a practice that sometimes causes anomalies between local data and that released by the NBS.

The centralized data-reporting system will solve that problem and is expected to improve the accuracy and credibility of China's economic indexes, analysts said.

"It will also reduce the workload of the grassroots data collectors employed by the businesses," said Pang.

Hu Xiaoqin, a statistician with Run Feng Agricultural Materials Co in Chengdu, Sichuan province, has undergone one month's training on the new system and can now operate it expertly.

"The operation of this online data-reporting system is simple and I can upload the figures in my office without having to bother with long-distance travel to different local government departments," Hu said.

China Daily