Time to take stock

The Sta­tis­tics De­part­ment Malaysia’s Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2016 is on track to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion on the eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try.

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - INSIGHT - By JOSEPH KAOS Jr star2@ thes­tar. com. my

IN the busi­ness world, five years is con­sid­ered a long time and cer­tainly, the way in which peo­ple do busi­ness can change a lot in that pe­riod of time. The na­tional eco­nomic cen­sus – con­ducted by the De­part­ment of Sta­tis­tics Malaysia – is held once ev­ery five years and the 2016 ex­er­cise is ex­pected to give in­sight on new trends and ar­eas of growth in the Malaysian busi­ness world.

The main ob­jec­tive of the eco­nomic cen­sus is to get com­pre­hen­sive in­for­ma­tion on the eco­nomic ac­tiv­i­ties in the coun­try, which will help in the for­mu­la­tion of na­tional poli­cies.

In the past five years, the land­scape has changed es­pe­cially with the rapid growth of the In­ter­net. To­day al­most ev­ery­one has ac­cess to the In­ter­net via smart­phones. The ecosys­tem is markedly dif­fer­ent from when the Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2011 was con­ducted, said Chief Statis­ti­cian of Malaysia Datuk Dr Ab­dul Rah­man Hasan.

Based on an In­for­ma­tion and Com­mu­ni­ca­tion Technology Satel­lite Ac­count ( ICTSA) re­port, e- Com­merce ac­tiv­i­ties gen­er­ated a value added of RM63.8bil and con­trib­uted 5.8% to the na­tional Gross Do­mes­tic Prod­uct ( GDP) in 2014 as com­pared wtih 5.4% in 2013. In the 11th Malaysia Plan ( 11MP), con­tri­bu­tion of e- Com­merce to GDP is tar­geted at 6.4% or RM114­bil by 2020.

E- Com­merce is ex­pand­ing rapidly in Malaysia due to the in­creas­ing use of the In­ter­net.

Through this cen­sus, we can gauge if busi­nesses are im­mers­ing them­selves in e- Com­merce, or if tra­di­tional busi­ness meth­ods are still go­ing strong.

Last April, the Sta­tis­tics De­part­ment launched the Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2016 ( for the ref­er­ence year of 2015) and the ex­er­cise is ex­pected to end this Novem­ber.

The cen­sus will in­volve about 700,000 com­pa­nies and busi­nesses that are reg­is­tered with the Com­pa­nies Com­mis­sion of Malaysia ( SSM), pro­fes­sional as­so­ci­a­tions, Co­op­er­a­tive Com­mis­sion of Malaysia ( SKM), lo­cal au­thor­i­ties of Sabah and Sarawak, and agro en­trepreneurs reg­is­tered with the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture and Agro- based In­dus­tries.

At 75.2%, the ser­vices sec­tor ( ex­clud­ing dis­tribu­tive trade) has the high­est cover­age in Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2016, fol­lowed by the con­struc­tion sec­tor ( 10.9%), man­u­fac­tur­ing ( 10.6%), agri­cul­ture ( 2.8%) and the min­ing and quar­ry­ing sec­tor ( 0.5%). As of to­day, Eco­nomic Cen­sus ques­tion­naires have been distributed to all reg­is­tered com­pa­nies and busi­nesses. The re­spon­dents are given a month to com­plete the ques­tion­naire. If they fail to re­spond within a month, of­fi­cers will then pay these com­pa­nies a visit.

Dr Ab­dul Rah­man said the cen­sus is gov­erned by the Sta­tis­tics Act 1965 ( Re­vised 1989), which states that all com­pa­nies are com­pelled to pro­vide the re­quired in­for­ma­tion to the de­part­ment.

Should the com­pany be found guilty of be­ing un­co­op­er­a­tive, a penalty not ex­ceed­ing RM500 will be im­posed, and they will be charged RM500 max­i­mum con­tin­u­ally each day un­til the re­spon­dents co­op­er­ate.

“I think the pub­lic knows that it is manda­tory to par­tic­i­pate in a cen­sus, so I do not re­ally fore­see many prob­lems,” says Dr Ab­dul Rah­man. “Af­ter all, the find­ings of the Eco­nomic Cen­sus doesn’t just help the gov­ern­ment in plan­ning poli­cies, but also busi­nesses plan their own strate­gies and di­rec­tion. It is a win- win sit­u­a­tion,” he says.

He stresses that busi­nesses should not worry about di­vulging their in­for­ma­tion to the De­part­ment of Sta­tis­tics as it will be kept con­fi­den­tial, and this is pro­vided for un­der Sec­tion 4 ( 2) of the Sta­tis­tics Act 1965 ( Re­vised 1989). “The in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by the busi­nesses is only pub­lished at ag­gre­gate level, so there is no need to worry,” Dr Ab­dul Rah­man says.

In­ter­na­tion­ally, the eco­nomic cen­sus is also con­ducted ev­ery five years and this is prac­tised by de­vel­oped na­tions like United States, Bri­tain and Ja­pan. In­done­sia and Brunei Darus­salam are two other Asean coun­tries con­duct­ing their eco­nomic cen­sus this year.

“In Malaysia, be­sides us­ing it as a ba­sis for cal­cu­lat­ing the GDP, the cen­sus will also help us as­sess the im­pact of our na­tional de­velop- ment pro­grammes and poli­cies such as the Eco­nomic Trans­for­ma­tion Pro­gramme ( ETP) and the 11MP,” Dr Ab­dul Rah­man says.

As we head to­wards 2020, and our aim of at­tain­ing high- in­come na­tion sta­tus, the data gath­ered from Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2016 will help the gov­ern­ment to make post- 2020 plans.

“Sta­tis­tics,” Dr Ab­dul Rah­man says, “is like fer­tiliser to a tree. The bet­ter the fer­tiliser, the more pro­duc­tive the tree is, with lots of bloom­ing flow­ers and fruits. There­fore, the Eco­nomic Cen­sus is like fer­tiliser to the pol­icy mak­ers. The bet­ter the sta­tis­tics, the bet­ter the poli­cies which can be de­vel­oped,” he says.

The eco­nomic cen­sus will also help to gauge the per­for­mance of the ever- ex­pand­ing SME sec­tor in the coun­try, which is be­ing driven by the Master Plan of Small and Medium En­ter­prises ( SMEs) 2012- 2020. Based on Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2011, about 97% of busi­ness es­tab­lish­ments are SMEs.

In 2015, SME is es­ti­mated to con­trib­ute 36.3% to the GDP, 65.5% to em­ploy­ment and 17.6% to to­tal ex­ports. Data from this cen­sus will help to ob­serve the changes within the five years and be­come an in­put to as­sess the per­for­mance for plan­ning, and also strength- en­ing the SMEs in­dus­trial de­vel­op­ment pro­gramme, said Dr Ab­dul Rah­man.

Other newer as­pects that are be­ing ex­plored in this cen­sus in­clude en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pli­ance and the hir­ing of Tech­ni­cal Vo­ca­tional Ed­u­ca­tion and Train­ing ( TVET) grad­u­ates.

“We will be able to see how far Malaysian com­pa­nies have fol­lowed the in­ter­na­tional stan­dards of en­vi­ron­men­tal com­pli­ance in their busi­ness prac­tices.

“As for TVET, it is a new area which the Gov­ern­ment has de­voted a lot of at­ten­tion into. In the cen­sus we will find out many busi­nesses em­ploy grad­u­ates of the TVET sys­tem,” said Dr Ab­dul Rah­man.

The re­sult of Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2016 is ex­pected to be re­leased by June 2017. The re­sults will be made ac­ces­si­ble for free to all busi­nesses on an in­ter­ac­tive por­tal that we will launch in con­junc­tion with Eco­nomic Cen­sus 2016, says Dr Ab­dul Rah­man.

The ex­er­cise is es­ti­mated to cost RM50mil and some 2,000 enu­mer­a­tors have been hired to con­duct the cen­sus. These are tem­po­rary staff, ad­di­tional to the ex­ist­ing Sta­tis­tics De­part­ment staff, who will be in­volved in the val­i­da­tion and com­put­ing process later.

Source: De­part­ment of Sta­tiS­ticS, malaySia

Chief statis­ti­cian malaysia Datuk Dr Ab­dul rah­man Hasan at his of­fice in pu­tra­jaya. — mOHD sA­HAr mIsNI/ The star

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