Vietnam’s statistical data is not really known for accuracy and reliability, with even the head of the Ministry of Planning and Investment not denying the reality.
However Minister Bui Quang Vinh has never requested that statistics be manipulated or falsified to “look good,” he told a lawmaking National Assembly meeting on Wednesday.
Many Vietnamese lawmakers have expressed concern over the lack of accuracy and reliability in locally compiled statistics as they discussed the amended law on statistics at the meeting, prompting the minister to defend them in a 20-minute speech.
The Ministry of Planning and Investment manages the General Statistics Office (GSO), which is tasked with releasing statistical data on the country’s socio-economic development and economic sectors.
Meanwhile, each department and industry also prepares their own statistics, and these pieces of data are sometimes different from each other.
Minister Vinh admitted that the statistics are not always accurate and vary among agencies, but they are never falsified.
The minister said calculation methods used by the GSO are in accordance with international standards, and what really matters is “whether the input data is accurate.”
“For instance, those people who have more than one house tend to refuse to reveal the real number, which leads to an inaccurate input,” he elaborated.
“When the input data is wrong, we cannot expect the final statistics to be true.”
Vietnam currently regulates that 185 sets of statistical data be calculated on an annual basis, and the Ministry of Planning and Investment is only in charge of up to 80 of them, according to the minister.
“I do not think that the data released by departments or industries is more accurate,” he said.
“Instead, they are not objective because people will always prefer to have positive statistics.”
The Ministry of Planning and Investment therefore always publicizes data compiled by both the GSO and the departments to avoid misleading the public.
“For example, when announcing data about the unemployment rate, we always provide statistics by the GSO and the Ministry of Labor, War Invalids and Social Affairs,” he said.
Minister Vinh also said lawmakers might have doubted the statistics because they did not know of the three different types of statistical data in Vietnam.
The ministry has to prepare estimated statistics on a monthly basis, and supply preliminary data by the end of every month to report to the government.
“The final statistics are the official and accurate ones, which are usually announced in June of the following year,” he said.
“If we only publicize the official statistics in June as per international practice instead of the preliminary every month, lawmakers would no longer doubt its accuracy.”