New data system to prevent manipulation

Updated: 2012-02-15 09:49

By Chen Jia (China Daily)

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BEIJING - In the hope of collecting more accurate economic data, the National Bureau of Statistics plans to begin obtaining information directly from industrial, service and real estate companies, it said in a statement on its website on Tuesday.

The bureau said that about 700,000 companies, which together contribute about 80 percent of the nation's GDP, must begin on Saturday to upload production, income and spending statements and other information directly to the National Data Center or various provincial data centers.

Ma Jiantang, chief of the statistics bureau, said in the statement that the system is meant to make statistical reporting easier for companies and data collection more efficient.

This database is also meant to help prevent local authorities from inflating statistical information, Ma said.

"It can improve the data's authenticity and provide more accurate indications about economic conditions."

Under the current system of data reporting, companies are asked to submit information about economic indicators to local statistical institutions. That system has made it easy for those who want to paint a rosy picture about a place's economy to intercept and manipulate the information before sending it to the statistics bureau's headquarters in Beijing.

In 2011, the combined GDP reported separately by the 31 provinces and municipalities was 51.8 trillion yuan ($8.2 trillion), a figure that was about 10 percent higher than the national GDP figure released by the statistics bureau, a report from Economic Daily said.

Analysts said the provincial data were likely exaggerated, as numbers tied to economic growth are often used as a means of judging local officials' performance.

The statistics bureau began testing the unified data reporting system at the beginning of 2010.

Chengdu Yaguang Electronics Co Ltd, a supplier of microwave semiconductor devices, is among a group of companies that have used it. The company began uploading data to the statistics bureau in January 2010.

"So far the system is running well," said Wang Hongling, the chief statistician in the company.

"It has shortened the time that we take to collect data, and now we have only one unified table to fill in. This has been a great relief from drudgery."

The statistics bureau chief called on companies to provide "true and accurate" information, saying those that falsify data will be punished.

The statistics bureau said the new system is to be used in calculating economic indices for the first quarter of the year.