Thursday, August 6, 2009

05) Duvidas sobre a qualidades das estatisticas da China

China’s growth figures fail to add up
By Jamil Anderlini in Beijing
Financial Times, August 4, 2009

China’s gross domestic product figures are among the world’s most closely watched since they can move markets or boost hopes of an imminent recovery.

But the latest set of first-half numbers provided by provincial-level authorities are far higher than the central government’s national figure, raising fresh questions about the accuracy of statistics in the world’s most populous nation.

GDP totalled Rmb15,376bn ($2,251bn) in the first half, according to data released individually by China’s 31 provinces and municipalities, 10 per cent higher than the official first-half GDP figure of Rmb13,986bn published by the National Bureau of Statistics.

All but seven of the regions reported GDP growth rates above the bureau’s first-half figure of 7.1 per cent. At the start of the year, Beijing set 8 per cent as China’s growth target for the year.

With the rest of the world looking to China as a beacon of expansion, the discrepancy is a reminder that statistics there are often unreliable and manipulated regularly by officials for personal and political purposes.

In recent years, provincial figures have suggested consistently the world’s third-largest economy is bigger than Beijing’s published estimate, but the discrepancy appears to have widened this year.

Even state-controlled media reports and editorials have in recent days raised questions over their accuracy.

The Global Times, controlled by the People’s Daily, the Communist party mouthpiece, reported that the public reacted with “banter and sarcasm” to NBS figures showing average urban wages in China rose 13 per cent in the first half to $2,142.

It quoted an online poll showing 88 per cent of respondents doubted the official numbers.

An editorial on Tuesday in the China Daily, the government’s English-language mouthpiece, quoted another survey that found 91 per cent of respondents sceptical of official data, up from 79 per cent in 2007.

Economists abroad have also questioned the reliability of the data in recent months.

“Despite starkly limited resources and a dynamic, complex economy, the state statistical bureau again needed only 15 days to survey the economic progress of 1.3bn people,” said Derek Scissors, of the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, referring to the time it took for the bureau to produce the figures after the end of the first half this year. “At worst, results are manufactured to suit the Communist party.”

Some economists say provincial officials have enormous incentives to improve their career prospects by exaggerating local economic growth.

The NBS itself is often wary of data provided by local governments and tends to revise down preliminary estimates using its own statistical model, according to official economists.

Calls to the NBS, which like most Chinese government agencies rarely responds to requests for comment, were not returned.

The criticism has prompted the NBS to launch a campaign last week, entitled “Statistical Feelings: We have walked together – Celebrating the 60th anniversary of the founding of New China,” to boost confidence among statisticians.

The campaign has already produced works such as: “I’m proud to be a brick in the statistical building of the republic.” In another poem, a contributor writes: “I can rearrange the stars in the sky because I have statistics.”

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