Sunday, April 16, 2017

False Grain Statistical Reporting to be Addressed

An initiative to crack down on false statistics was announced in an April 10, 2017 circular posted on China's State Administration of Grain web site.

While progress had been made in reforming the statistical system for the grain marketing system, the circular said, "there are still some problems that cannot be ignored." The circular acknowledged that grain administrative departments in some localities do not give statistical work a high priority, some grain enterprises file untrue statistical reports, and it is urgent to raise the quality of statistical work.

The grain administration system will make renewed efforts to improve the truthfulness of grain data through several measures, although no details of the measures have been revealed. These include a grain statistics responsibility system and a statistical control system to check the numbers and hold officials responsible for quality of statistics. There will be "strict accountability" for local officials who falsify participants in statistical surveys or report fake numbers. Officials are instructed to find the reason for abnormal data and avoid passing up "sick data" from one level to the next which can lead to wrong policy decisions. Training and organizational changes will also address the false data problems.

Note: this reform applies to statistics on procurement, sales, and reserves of grain which are reported by local warehouses, granaries, and processors on forms filed and passed up through the grain administration. In particular, the massive procurement of corn reported in 2015/16 exceeded the amount of corn produced in at least one province--but the circular did not mention this or any other examples of false statistics. This particular initiative does not cover statistics on grain production, which are collected and published by the Statistics Bureau, a completely different administrative organization with little or no interaction with the Grain Administration. All statistical agencies are under orders to improve the "truthfulness of statistics" based on dictates issued by the State Council.

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