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Dhaka, Wed, 18 January 2017

http://print.thefinancialexpress-bd.com/2017/01/18/162335

Need for reliable statistics


M S Siddiqui

Statistics measure a country's development status and help set priorities for future action.
Statistics are used both in preparing the plan documents and also monitoring the progress made
over time. Reliable statistical data, collected according to good practices and agreed standards,
are essential to achieve results. Without statistics it is impossible to measure progress or develop
effective policies and programs for perfect planning and better use of resources.
Statistics are produced by national statistical systems in developing countries, and this data is a
crucial component for good governance. Without information on where people live, how much
they earn and what services they have access to, it is impossible to respond to the population's
needs.
The budget and future plans are also estimated on the basis of economic growth. Asian
Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank estimate the growth on moderate increase of
agriculture, robust domestic demand and expansion of industry, services and construction. A
report published by the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) stated that gross domestic product
(GDP) growth of Bangladesh has hit 7.05 per cent. BBS stated that this growth is a direct result
of development in the agriculture, industrial, and services sectors. The government reacted
against lower estimation of growth by donors. There may be difference of sources of data or
methods of data processing or interpretation existing between the donors and the government.
The local stakeholders have minimum confidence on data and they reportedly look for
information from donors and market intelligence of other countries. The Bangladesh Tariff
Commission has developed a Bangladesh web portal on economic and business data of
Bangladesh to facilitate local and foreign entrepreneurs. The information given there is obtained
from the US Central Intelligent Agency (CIA).
Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) has legal mandate of statistical data collection and
interpretation as per ParishankhayanAin (Statistics Act) 2013. As per the law, every citizen,
organization, and institute is now legally bound to provide information whenever sought by
BBS. Similarly, any authorized staff of BBS can seek access to any official records and
documents of other organizations in order to collect statistics. In Bangladesh, there are a number
of other national agencies such as Bangladesh Bank, the Directorate General of Health Services
(DGHS), National Institute of Population Research and Training (NIPORT), National Board of

Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Bureau of Educational Information & Statistics (BANBEIS) etc.
who collect and publish data. Any organization or agency that produces statistical data are
overlapping with those of BBS is not following the methodology and guidelines of BBS. But law
has made it mandatory for all ministries, divisions and other offices to use the official statistics
as source of information.
On the other hand, BBS is not following the international statistical system and the method of
processing is also different. Although the BBS recently subscribed to the General Data
Dissemination System (GDDS) managed by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in order to
harmonize its system with those of other countries, it was reportedly planning to do so by 2016.
They have renewed interest in the quality and availability of statistics for management,
programme design, and monitoring.
The government of Bangladesh are using different statistics provided by Bangladesh Bureau of
Statistics (BBS) and other agencies. These data being used for measuring the social progress of
the society, poverty reduction, food security and nutrition, social development, macroeconomic
performances, climate change and environmental sustainability. Bangladesh has introduced
medium term budgetary framework. Different statistics are used for effective implementation of
this framework. Donors also prefer to use national statistical data for forecasting and advising the
developing countries on different development and reform issues.
The government will be required to monitor progress on the 17 SDGs and their accompanying
targets for own use and reporting to UN. Given the breadth and complexity of the SDG agenda
many different types of data will be required data for the economic, social and environmental
issues with varying levels of coverage.
In fact, over the recent years, the international development community has expressed a strong
demand for statistics and has reached consensus on the need to act together to strengthen national
statistical system. Therefore, there is a need to: (i) manage statistical development strategically,
(ii) increase the quantity and quality of support, and (iii) strengthen the governance of the
system. This paper will further address these three themes.
The donors are keen to find the identical data of all countries and data obtained from following
the same method for measuring the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The donors have
formulated national strategies for development of Statistics (NSDS) for planning improvements
in national statistical systems of developing countries in order to upgrade the statistics. NSDS are
documents to provide plans to carry out major statistical activities such as censuses, surveys,
collection of administrative data, and so on and so forth and to improve the legal, bureaucratic
and technical context under which official statistics are gathered.
NSDS can also be used in the budget for operational costs, planned improvements to the system
and for coordinating donor support. The UN Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), called
for building statistical capacity and improving coordination between beneficiaries and donors.
Following an expert meeting co-organized by the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of
the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the UN Statistics
Division (UNSD), the World Bank (WB) and the International Monetary Fund (IMF), and the

Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) was established to
enhance dialogues between beneficiaries and donors; promote efficient and well-coordinated
statistical initiatives at the national, regional and international levels and prepare an annual
progress report to be submitted to ECOSOC.
The partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21) is a global
partnership of national, regional, and international statisticians, analysts, policy-makers,
development professionals, and other users of statistics.
The PARIS21 Consortium has been established as a global forum and network to promote,
influence, and facilitate development of statistical capacity and a better use of statistics. It is
supporting NSDS through various programmes like (1) facilitating the coordination of
stakeholders to better address an evolving agenda, (2) advocating increased involvement of
national stakeholders in statistical development and enhancing the status of statistics in major
international initiatives, (3) promoting better-quality and effectively implemented NSDSs, and
(4) stimulating increased demand for and better use of data. An advocacy activities launched by
PARIS21 have targeted political decision-makers, to bring them to exercise their leadership in
favour of their countries' statistical systems.
PARIS21 pursues this goal by encouraging and assisting low-income and lower middle income
countries in the design, implementation, monitoring, and resource mobilization for national
strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDS).
The NSDSs have to (i) cover all data and capacity needs coming from different sectors, (ii) be
based on a solid diagnosis, (iii) be result oriented, (iv) address governance issues, and (v) take
into account the UN fundamental principles, and quality standards and good practices such as the
IMF General Data Dissemination System (GDDS) and Special Data Dissemination Standards
(SDDS). These must be designed through a participatory process, involving data users and
producers, both national stakeholders such as administration, parliament, private sector,
universities, research centres, civil society, media etc. and international partners.
PARIS21 is first and foremost a consortium focused on partnership in statistics between
beneficiaries and donors in order to facilitate the dialogue; promote well-coordinated
development initiatives and report on the partnership status in order to increase all the parties'
accountability towards the ECOSOC.
It was envisaged while preparing the NSDS that Government of Bangladesh would be unlikely to
fully finance the plan from its own resources necessitating support from different development
partners. Therefore, it was decided that for full implementation of the NSDS, a consortium of
interested development partners would be formed to finance different components of the plan.
The World Bank would also be approached to support the implementation of the NSDS through
their statistical capacity building programme (STATCAP).
The estimated investment cost of implementation of the NSDS over the ten year period from
2013 to 2023, was about US$578 million. Because of the front-loaded nature of the strategic
plan, about 51 per cent of the total investment would be required during the first three years from

July 2013 to June 2016. The rest would be required for the period from July 2016 to June 2023.
Bangladesh may go for implementation of the ParishankhayanAin (Statistics Act), 2013 in
collaboration with Partnership in Statistics for Development in the 21st Century (PARIS21). It is
a consortium to improve collection, process and dissemination of all social and economic data up
to a globally acceptable standard to meet the challenges of SDGs, and design policies and plans
for economic development. Donors are reportedly ready to support with money and technology
for improvement of national statistics department.
The writer M S Siddiqui is a Legal Economist.