Some lo­cal statis­tics depart­ment re­ports give false num­bers

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By LI YANG in Shang­hai liyang@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The third na­tional eco­nomic cen­sus re­ports re­leased in De­cem­ber ex­posed some false re­ports by lo­cal statis­tics de­part­ments

For ex­am­ple, last year the real out­put of 39 en­ter­prises in Heng­shan county, Hu­nan prov­ince, was 580 mil­lion yuan ($96.67 mil­lion). But the fig­ure was ex­ag­ger­ated to 4.4 bil­lion yuan in the county’s statis­tics bureau re­port, which cov­ers even some bankrupted busi­nesses. One dis­trict in Chang­sha, cap­i­tal of Hu­nan, re­ported the out­put of the dis­trict’s en­ter­prises is more than 80 times that of the ac­tual fig­ure.

The false re­ports are pre­pared and made jointly by dif­fer­ent de­part­ments to en­sure the “growth” in the re­ports meet ob­jec­tives set by higher author­ity

China has im­ple­mented a Statis­tics Law for more than 30 years. But only some county-level of­fi­cials re­ceive ad­min­is­tra­tive pun­ish­ment for cheat­ing on statis­tics re­ports. When the statis­tics scan­dals are ex­posed, en­ter­prises are mostly ear­marked as the scape­goats, even if it is al­most an open se­cret that the en­ter­prises do this at the ac­qui­es­cence of lo­cal gov­ern­ments to help the lo­cal au­thor­i­ties to ful­fill their growth goals on pa­per.

Statis­tics re­ports are im­por­tant ref­er­ences for mak­ing poli­cies, rules and laws. China learned painful lessons about cheat­ing on statis­tics in 1958 dur­ing the Great Leap For­ward cam­paign. Grass­roots com­munes ex­ag­ger­ated their grain out­put to please higher au­thor­i­ties. Wrong agri­cul­tural and eco­nomic poli­cies were made, and a great famine fol­lowed in the early 1960s.

To avoid cheat­ing on statis­tics re­ports, China needs to re­form its statis­tics sys­tem.

The cen­tral and lo­cal statis­tics de­part­ments can be put un­der the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress and its lo­cal branches to guar­an­tee their in­de­pen­dence from gov­ern­ments.

Power con­sump­tion, vol­ume of rail­way freight and bank loans are rigid in­dexes for eco­nomic growth that are not eas­ily fal­si­fied, and should be taken as an im­por­tant ref­er­ence to judge the au­then­tic­ity of sta­tis­ti­cal data.

Ac­cord­ing to the Statis­tics Law, of­fi­cials re­spon­si­ble for cheat­ing on statis­tics re­ports should be pros­e­cuted for crim­i­nal li­a­bil­ity. If this re­ally can be done, gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials will nat­u­rally ab­stain from tricks.

The Na­tional Statis­tics Bureau should also stream­line its lo­cal branches, and ap­ply more ad­vanced in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy to min­i­mize ar­ti­fi­cial in­flu­ence on data.

The cen­tral author­ity should also re­vise the as­sess­ment sys­tem for lo­cal of­fi­cials, mak­ing some key en­vi­ron­men­tal in­dexes and lo­cal peo­ple’s eval­u­a­tions as cru­cial stan­dards to judge the of­fi­cials’ per­for­mances.

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