Statistics have huge reliability gap: advisor

16:49, March 09, 2010      

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China should take steps to ensure that officials don't cook the books before they release statistics to the public in order to please the government, according to a proposal by a CPPCC advisor.

"Many government statistics have been questioned by the public and considered to be inconsistent with the facts," Wang Shaojie, vice chairman of China National Democratic Construction Association and a CPPCC member, said Sunday.

Wang believes some local governments fake figures because the current Statistics Law is not tough enough and doesn't require an exhausting verification system.

The law, adopted in 1983 and revised in 2009, had high expectations but has turned out to be a disappointment to many, according to Wang.

Problems with statistics were exposed after regional gross domestic product (GDP) figures ended up surpassing the national GDP growth.

China's annual GDP growth was 8.7 percent in 2009, according to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). However, the regional statistics showed that the GDP growth were below 8.7 percent in only three provinces and cities. As many as 28 provinces and cities reported higher growth including 11 with 11 to 13 percent growth, 8 with 13 to 15 percent, and two above 16 percent.

"The phenomena is nothing new," said Wang. "It happened every year since 2004."

He suggested implementation of a verification mechanism to prevent regional officials from faking numbers to exaggerate their achievements.

He pointed out that another reason statistics are not trusted is because of flaws in the nation's statistical system.

The NBS released figures in July 2009 that showed urban wages had risen more than 10 percent in the first half despite the financial crisis. The figure was widely questioned by the media and public.

Wang said the statistics could not reflect the overall situation because the NBS only took 110 million out of 410 million urban residents into account when it made the calculations. The other 70 percent are migrant workers, self-employed and employees of private enterprises, whose incomes are usually lower than State employees.

"It is crucial to increase the public credibility of statistics while the public are participating more and more in State affairs," said Wang.

Source: Global Times
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