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China Daily Website

Make statistics reliable

Updated: 2012-12-17 21:57
( chinadaily.com.cn)

The bi-monthly magazine Talkings reported that a county secretary of the Communist Party of China Committee discovered that the real annual financial revenue of his county government was less than 500 million yuan ($79 million), much lower than the 800 million yuan that a former secretary claimed the county brought in. The new secretary had been promoted from a post in a small, poor county to a big, "rich" county, says an article in China Business News. Excerpts:

This is not an isolated case. In March, the National Bureau of Statistics reported two cases of data fraud in Chongqing and Hejin of Shanxi province. The staff at local statistics authorities require or encourage local enterprises to make false reports on their production values and other local economic growth data.      

Going too far in data management is just as wrong as not going far enough. The root cause of this phenomenon is that economic growth remains one of the most important standards of evaluating the performances of local officials. Their audacity to brag about local economic data originates from their desire to be promoted.

If such practices become conventional, it will be extremely difficult for higher authorities to obtain reliable and true data that reflects the performances of local economies. Loose control of the statistics discourages local officials from making real efforts to improve their economies.

General Secretary of CPC Central Committee Xi Jinping has emphasized the importance of social, cultural and ecological constructions and paralleled them together with political and economic construction. This spirit should be incorporated into the evaluation of officials' performances to make it more balanced and comprehensive.

As for the reported cases of data fraud, the disciplinary watchdogs should show their sharp teeth and resolution to eliminate such harmful and infectious wrongdoings. Only harsh punishment and a more scrupulous and responsible audit can deter potential followers from participating in the data game.