The Importance, Relevance of Statistics

Article excerpt

MANILA, Philippines - Numbers intimidate. So said one of the speakers at the recent consultative workshop held by the National Statistical Coordinating Board (NSCB) for the formulation of the Philippine Statistical Development Program (PSDP) 2011-2017. Perhaps this is one reason why, other than its being almost incomprehensible to most laymen, statistics is not given as much attention as it should be by most people and especially by those in authority, such as those who have the power of the purse. In his welcome remarks, Dr. Romulo A. Virola, Secretary General of the NSCB, bewailed the fact that the government has not invested enough in statistics and has even scaled down statistical budgets over the years. Citing the depressing drop to only 0.10 percent share of the national budget for the period 2005-20010 from 0.14 percent for the period 1999-2004, or only 0.024 percent of GDP, down from 0.034 percent during those periods, he added that the five major statistical agencies - the NSCB, Statistical Research and Training Center (SRTC), Bureau of Agricultural Statistics (BAS), and Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics (BLES) - suffered an over-all decline of 23 percent in its human resources from 2004 to 2010. Dr. Virola commented that while the international development community only recently recognized the importance of having national statistical plans to develop national statistical systems, the Philippine Statistical System (PSS), spearheaded by the NSCB, had been crafting the country's own PSDP since 1976. In fact, this is the eighth such endeavour, noting that international development agencies such as the World Bank have started to advocate the design, implementation, and monitoring of National Strategies for the Development of Statistics (NSDS), the equivalent of our PSDP. Moreover, according to the World Bank 2011 Bulletin Board on Statistical Capacity, the Philippines ranks first overall among ten ASEAN countries, and 7th out of 142 developing countries, this despite the severe resource constraints the PSS faces. The NSCB, since 1987, has been conducting medium-term programming activities to set the directions, thrusts, and priorities of the PSS towards integrating the statistical activities of the government. Over the years, the PSDP has become an important component of the national development agenda because it contains programs aimed at improving the quality of statistics being generated and disseminated throughout the country. …