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Pilot Survey Planned to Improve Statistics

A joint project to improve the accuracy of statistics on China's fast-growing service sector is set to start soon.

The project, which will cost about US$750,000, will be jointly funded by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) and Asian Development Bank (ADB). It will last for three years and is due to end in June 2006.

The ADB has agreed to contribute US$450,000 to the survey, a bureau spokesman said. The rest will come from the Chinese Government.

The pilot survey will serve as the basis for a nationwide survey, the results will be used to revise national account estimates.

Bruce Murray, country director of ADB's China Resident Mission, said despite the progress achieved in reforming the statistical system, the accuracy of some of China's statistics have been questioned.

"One of the lessons learned from the SARS outbreak was the importance of a good communications strategy during crises, which is based on transparent, accurate information," he said.

"Initiatives to strengthen the statistical system and to improve the accuracy of official statistics need to continue, a process that ADB is supporting."

The project will help the NBS better measure the economic impact of services, and build capacity in its National Accounts Department.

Recent government reforms have resulted in a rapid expansion of services, especially in information and communication technology, financial and banking, real estate, and environmental and tourism services sectors, Murray said.

Bishnu Pant, ADB principal statistician, said current official estimates of output and added value in the services sector may be significant underestimation.

"This underestimation, due to incomplete coverage and underpricing of services such as housing, public schools, and public transportation, is a major constraint in accurately estimating gross domestic product in China," Pant said.

(China Daily August 6, 2003)

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