Whither goest thou, China?
A clearer picture of the nation’s economic development will be revealed when the results of an upcoming nationwide census are unveiled, providing some insights into how the reforms under President Xi Jinping, who took the helm of the ruling Communist Party in late 2012, are transforming the world’s second largest economy.
China’s third national economic census kicked off its registration phase on New Year’s Day after months of preparation, according to a statement on the website of the National Bureau of Statistics.
The census is designed to offer a broad picture of the fast-expanding secondary and tertiary industries and complete a database covering all economic sectors, bureau chief Ma Jiantang said. It will survey over 10 million companies and 60 million privately or individually owned businesses in the next three months.
The survey, which is conducted every five years, will look into the conditions, challenges and prospects of enterprises as the nation advances toward its medium-term goal of building a moderately prosperous society.
It will involve nearly three million statisticians, who will collect data related to enterprise ownership, staff size, financial status, production capacity and research and development activities.
In this respect, accurate data should be the soul of statistics and data quality the lifeblood of economic census, Ma said.
The Chinese economy has gone through massive transformation since the last economic census was taken five years ago, and therefore, there is a need for more recent and accurate statistics that reflect these changes.
One of the most significant changes is the implementation of the value-added tax reform in selected sectors from 2012. The reform is intended to ease the tax burden on high-growth service industries such as transportation, courier, railways and telecommunications as the nation transforms its economy from an export-oriented model. The census will try to determine its actual impact on businesses, and if the reform is yielding the desired results.
Compared with the last national census, the upcoming exercise will cover more enterprises in the secondary and tertiary industries, as well as a diverse group of entrepreneurs, to ferret out the numbers that will accurate depict the true state of the economy.
It will focus on the development of strategic emerging industries, the cultural sector as well as small and micro enterprises.
The collated data, as well as the related analysis, is expected to show the economic impact of the 12th Five-Year Plan unveiled by then premier Wen Jiabao for the period 2011-2015.
In the upcoming census, the statistics bureau will rely on the latest technology to speed up the gathering of data and ensure accurate results. Frontline staff will use personal digital assistant devices to collect data and fill in the forms.
According to Ma, refusal to register accurate data, leaking of data by census officials and institutions, and tampering with data will all be dealt with seriously.
Data gathered during the census cannot be used as evidence for legal prosecution, he added.
The final results will be released in the second half of 2014.
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