ECONOMIC AND SOCIAL COMMISSION FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
EMERGING ISSUES AND DEVELOPMENTS AT THE REGIONAL LEVEL: STATISTICS
(Item 6 (e) of the provisional agenda)
REPORT ON THE STATISTICAL INSTITUTE FOR ASIA AND THE PACIFIC
1. In accordance with article 5.9 of the Statute of the Statistical Institute for Asia and the Pacific (SIAP), the Governing Board is to submit an annual report on the implementation of the programmes of the Institute to the Commission at each of its sessions. This document is in compliance of the requirement.
2. The present report consists of six sections comprising, respectively, a comprehensive overview of the training programmes conducted by the Institute in 1998/99; the achievements of the initiatives taken to shape the new direction of SIAP; issues calling for action by, or the attention of, the Commission; the programme of work in 1999/2000; the financial status of the Institute; and a summary of the fourth session of the Governing Board, held on 18 and 19 November 1998 in Bangkok. The report also contains annexes providing information on the number of participants in training programmes by type of course and country/area; cash contributions from member countries/areas; in-kind contributions from the host Government and other governments; and the programme support provided by the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) and other governments and organizations.
3. The Commission is requested to provide guidance on the issues raised in this report. It is also requested to consider and endorse the major recommendations and suggestions made by the Governing Board at its fourth session.
4. The activities undertaken by SIAP since the fifty-fourth session of the Commission reflect a considerable expansion, in terms of both the number and the content of the training programmes, in comparison to the previous year.
5. A total of four training courses were conducted in Tokyo during this period. Unless otherwise stated, the fellowships for the training were offered by the Government of Japan through JICA:
(a) Six-month Ninth Group Training Course in Practical Statistics, with 34 participants from 30 countries, will be completed on 19 March 1999;
(b) One-month Country-Focused Group Training Course in Practical Statistics for the Kingdom of Cambodia, with five participants, was completed on 3 July 1998;
(c) Two-month Fourth Group Training Course in Automatic Data Processing for Trainers, with 20 participants from 20 countries, was completed on 12 July 1998;
(d) Two-month Second Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics, with 15 participants from 12 countries, was completed on 18 September 1998. Four participants from the General Statistical Office of Viet Nam were sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
6. The Fourth Course/Workshop on Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys, with 29 participants from 16 countries, was conducted in Macau in April/May 1998 in collaboration with the Census and Statistics Department of Macau. Fourteen participants were from Macau and one overseas participant, sponsored by Macau, was from outside the ESCAP region.
7. The Training Course on Review and Presentation of Different Measurements of Poverty in Specific Reference to the South-East Asian Region was conducted in Vientiane in March/April 1998, in collaboration with UNDP and the National Statistical Centre of the Government of the Lao People's Democratic Republic. Seven participants from five neighbouring countries also attended, the travel of one from each country being funded under ESCAP/technical cooperation among developing countries (TCDC) funds.
8. The Training Course in Survey Sampling Methods and Applications for Cambodia was conducted in Phnom Penh from 1 to 12 June 1998, in collaboration with the National Institute of Statistics and the World Bank under the sponsorship of UNDP.
9. SIAP, in collaboration with the Statistics Division of ESCAP, organized a two-day Workshop on the Year 2000 Problem in Computers and Strategic Issues for National Statistical Offices in Bangkok on 18 and 19 June 1998, with 21 participants from 18 countries. SIAP sponsored the participation of 18 ESCAP developing countries. The five resource persons were provided through collaboration with the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong, China; the National Computer Board of Singapore; Statistics New Zealand; and a private sector organization of India specializing in computer software services. A presentation was also made by the Statistics Division of ESCAP. The papers and proceedings of the Workshop were published and disseminated.
10. The Workshop on the System of Economic Accounts for Agriculture was conducted jointly with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and with the collaboration of the National Bureau of Statistics of China in Kunming, China, from 30 November to 4 December 1998. It was attended by 27 participants from 11 developing countries of East and South-East Asia, and each country had at least two participants, one of whom was working in national accounts and the other in agricultural statistics.
11. A country course in Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys was conducted in Kathmandu from 15 to 26 February 1999 under SIAP/UNDP project RAS/97/065, "Establishing and strengthening national capability in data collection/compilation and statistical analysis required in the preparation of national human development reports (NHDRs)".
12. SIAP collaborated with the country office of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in Manila and the National Statistical Office of the Philippines to conduct a country course in Manila from 15 February to 5 March 1999 on the application of the Integrated Microcomputer Processing System (IMPS) for data processing, including population census results.
13. The Workshop on Deseasonalization of Time Series Data, conducted with the collaboration of ABS, which made available the services of an expert to provide instruction to participants on time series analysis and application of the specialized time series analysis software SEASABS developed by ABS, was organized from 15 to 26 March 1999 in Singapore as a joint activity between SIAP and the Government of Singapore under the existing Singapore-ESCAP Third Country Training Programme.
14. The number of participants in SIAP training programmes held from April 1998 to March 1999 is given in annex I.
II. ACHIEVEMENTS OF INITIATIVES UNDERTAKEN TO SHAPE THE NEW DIRECTION OF SIAP
15. At its third session in October 1997, the Governing Board commended the initiatives taken by the Director to chart the new direction of SIAP and recommended that further efforts towards developing collaborative partnerships with the national statistical offices (NSOs) and relevant international/regional organizations/agencies for the implementation of SIAP training activities should be continued. This section provides a report on the accomplishments of the new initiatives and collaborative arrangements.
16. Two dimensions to the initiatives that have been pursued in the effort to infuse greater dynamism into the Institute's work programme may be distinguished. One aspect is the emphasis on enhancing the effectiveness of the training activities of the Institute in terms of addressing issues relating to the contents and subject matter of the courses and the training programmes. The other is the effort for developing collaboration and partnership arrangements with the NSOs and relevant international/regional organizations/agencies for the organization of training activities of the Institute.
17. Consultations were held with officials of the Management and Coordination Agency (MCA) of the Government of Japan on the restructuring of Tokyo-based courses and, in particular, the six-month course on practical statistics. This course would henceforth be conducted in three modules, namely, statistical and survey methods, demographic and social statistics, and national accounts. The syllabus of each module will become more focused and encompass a wide range of topics relevant to the module. The subject matter will also be dealt with in greater depth. The new name of the restructured six-month course would be Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics. Although for the next course commencing in May 1999 participants would have to attend all three modules, further discussions would be held among the concerned Government of Japan authorities on increasing flexibility so that the nominating agency could choose one or more modules for participation. The curriculum will still include statistics in the emerging areas introduced into the six-month course in recent years.
18. With regard to the two-month Automatic Data-Processing Course for Training of Trainers, the course curriculum was strengthened to emphasize the application of specific software. In this course, the application of IMPS was introduced to the participants. This course would henceforth be conducted under the new name, Group Training Course in Statistical Computing for Trainers.
19. The introduction of IMPS in the curriculum was significant, given that the year 2000 round of census operations will be a very important undertaking for many NSOs. The United States Bureau of the Census, which has developed IMPS, collaborated with SIAP by providing the services of an expert for a duration of three weeks. The participants have almost unanimously evaluated the training received in IMPS as useful for their work. SIAP will accordingly endeavour to include IMPS as a regular component in this course.
20. As implemented in 1997, a particular subject is addressed in detail each year; the specialized subject designated for the 1998 two-month Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics was macroeconomic statistics. For the next course, on account of its timeliness, the subject will be analysis of results of population and housing censuses.
21. The conduct of the Fourth Course/Workshop on Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys outside of Japan resulted in greater cost-effectiveness and a larger number of participants in relation to previous years. The Census and Statistics Department of Macau had generously provided lecture room and facilities, administrative support and hotel accommodation for the overseas participants. FAO also collaborated by assigning the services of an expert to provide lectures on sampling techniques in agricultural surveys.
22. As a consequence of both the savings realized through the relocation of the annual course on sample design to a lower cost venue, and discussions held with various organizations, SIAP has been able to increase and diversify its training activities to include new subject areas which are in demand by NSOs.
23. The Institute has, accordingly, been active in forging collaborative partnerships with NSOs and international organizations in implementing an enhanced outreach training programme, focusing on short-term training courses in specialized topics. Thus, topics chosen for new training programmes, such as for the courses conducted at Bangkok, Kunming and Singapore, and reported on in section I, fall outside the normal curriculum of the Tokyo-based courses and are also in demand by NSOs. Details of the additional courses to be conducted under the Institute's outreach programme, including in collaboration with the National Statistical Office of the Republic of Korea, the Statistical Centre of Iran and UNFPA, are provided in section IV pertaining to the programme of work for 1999/2000.
24. Again, in another vein, SIAP has collaborated with NSOs in the conduct of country courses on specific areas, with international organizations and agencies providing the funding. Courses conducted in Vientiane, Phnom Penh and Manila, and reported on in section I, fall into this category.
25. SIAP would also be collaborating with NSOs with relatively more advanced statistical systems and having well-equipped statistical training institutes, for the organization of regional and subregional training courses/workshops. This initiative will have the twin advantages of building up the national capabilities in countries where the activity takes place, and of exposing official statisticians of the region to statistical systems of other ESCAP developing countries.
26. SIAP would continue to avail itself of expertise from NSOs and relevant organizations to complement its small faculty. This strategy enables the Institute to enrich its training programmes in a cost-effective manner.
III. ISSUES CALLING FOR ACTION BY THE COMMISSION OR BROUGHT TO ITS ATTENTION
27. SIAP is embarking upon a new dynamic phase of its operations in terms of entering into collaborative partnerships with relevant international organizations and NSOs of the ESCAP region in the conduct of its training programmes. In this respect, the attention of the Commission is drawn to the two distinct aspects of these initiatives. One dimension is that of enhancing the effectiveness of the training activities in terms of addressing issues relating to the contents and subject matter of the courses. The other is the emphasis on developing partnership arrangements with NSOs and relevant international organizations and agencies for the organization of training activities. While these have been elaborated on in section II, the Commission may wish to urge members and associate members to respond to initiatives undertaken to forge collaboration between SIAP and the national statistical agencies in the conduct of the Institute's training activities, especially its outreach programme.
28. The Institute would like its training activities to be more demand driven so that it may respond better to the capability-building needs in statistics of the governments of members and associate members of ESCAP. In that regard, the Commission may wish to request its members and associate members to inform SIAP through their NSOs and the Committee on Statistics on the areas in which country-level training is required. That would greatly assist the Institute in the advance planning of its work programme and also enable SIAP to optimize its resource use.
29. The Commission may wish to inform those developing countries and areas of the ESCAP region desiring to participate in the Tokyo-based training courses of SIAP to register with the foreign affairs authorities of the respective countries their interest in availing themselves of JICA fellowships for these statistical training courses.
30. Owing to the decline in 1998 in total contributions to the institutional budget of SIAP in relation to 1997, the need to increase the cash contributions from members and associate members of ESCAP continues to be of importance in enabling the Institute to operate on a stable financial basis. The Commission may wish to express appreciation for the continued, and in some cases increased, cash contributions from members and associate members. The Commission may wish to urge those countries that were not pledging and contributing to the Institute to do so, and those that have pledged but not yet contributed to expedite payment of their pledges. The Commission may also wish to request those countries not meeting the minimum amounts set by the Commission's guidelines to increase their contributions.
31. The Commission is informed that the Institute will be shifting its premises in November 1999 from its present location in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo to Makuhari, Chiba Prefecture. According to the Government of Japan, the new premises of the Institute are still within the Tokyo Metropolitan Area, as stipulated in paragraph 3.1 of the Statute of SIAP. The Commission is informed that there are no financial implications to SIAP in the shift of the Institute's premises, as the Government of Japan would be generously absorbing the entire costs of relocation.
IV. PROGRAMME OF WORK FOR 1999/2000
32. The following programme of work for 1999/2000 was considered and adopted by the Governing Board at its fourth session.
33. The courses scheduled to be conducted in Tokyo are as follows:
(a) Group Training Course in Modules on Core Official Statistics tentatively scheduled from 11 May to 30 October 1999;
(b) Group Training Course in Statistical Computing for Trainers tentatively scheduled from mid-January to mid-March 2000;
(c) Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics tentatively scheduled from end-January to end-March 2000;
(d) Group Training Course in Practical Statistics for the Kingdom of Cambodia tentatively scheduled for six weeks from 21 June to 30 July 1999.
The arrangements for the above courses are to be finalized on the basis of the relevant and applicable laws and regulations of the Government of Japan, and in accordance with its annual budgetary appropriations for fiscal year 1999 within the long-term phase 1995-2000.
34. The Statistical Centre of Iran would be collaborating with the Institute in the conduct of a three-week course on Survey Sampling Methods and Applications in Tehran for neighbouring countries, including member countries of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). The course is scheduled from 19 June to 7 July 1999.
35. The four-week Fifth Course/Workshop on Sample Design for Household and Establishment Surveys will be conducted in collaboration with the National Statistical Office of the Republic of Korea in Taejon from 1 to 26 November 1999.
36. A one-week course on disability statistics would be conducted, for which the collaboration of NSOs is being sought, both for cooperation in organizing the course and for resource personnel support.
37. SIAP is seeking the financial support of UNFPA to organize two three-week subregional training courses on processing of data from the year 2000 round of population and housing censuses. The Institute has had a favourable response from UNFPA and these activities are expected to be conducted in 1999.
38. Under SIAP/UNDP project RAS/97/065, following a two-day consultative workshop in Singapore, the training materials for the series of country courses on data collection/compilation methods and statistical analysis required for NHDRs have recently been finalized. Five country courses, each of two-weeks' duration, have been programmed for 1999/2000. Additional activities under the project include a two-week country course on sample design for household and establishment surveys, and a subregional workshop on statistical and analytical issues relating to NHDRs.
V. FINANCIAL STATUS
39. A total of US$ 2,010,885 in cash contributions, including pledges, was made for 1998/99. The contribution from Japan continues to constitute the bulk of the overall cash contributions. The detailed cash contributions to SIAP are given in annex II.
40. The statements indicating actual revenue and expenditure for the year ending March 1998, and the anticipated expenditure and revenue for 1998/99 under the institutional budget, are indicated below:
STATEMENT OF REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE RELATING TO
THE INSTITUTIONAL BUDGET, 1997/98
(Thousands of US dollars)
a/ Covering April 1997-March 1998.
b/ Including reimbursement by ESCAP.
STATEMENT OF ANTICIPATED REVENUE AND EXPENDITURE
RELATING TO THE INSTITUTIONAL BUDGET, 1998/99
(Thousands of US dollars)
a/ Covering April 1998-March 1999.
b/ Including reimbursement by ESCAP.
41. It will be observed that the statement of revenue and expenditure relating to the institutional budget for 1997/98 indicates an operating surplus of about US$ 353,900. This surplus is attributed mainly to two factors: first, the position of Administrative Officer was vacant for a part of the year as it took time to locate a suitable replacement, while that of a lecturer had been vacant since August 1997; and second, the depreciation of the yen relative to the United States dollar resulted in savings, both in terms of local expenses and in terms of salaries paid to the staff members.
42. The statement of anticipated revenue and expenditure relating to the institutional budget for 1998/99 indicates a balanced budget, as a replacement for the Administrative Officer has been on board since 1 September 1998 in a new alternative position of Administrative Assistant, and a new lecturer/statistician joined the Institute on 28 January 1999.
43. The positive corollary of an unusual surplus in the institutional budget for 1997/98 is that the Institute is now in possession of a financial buffer which will enable it to embark upon advance planning of its outreach activities.
44. Some member countries did not pledge at the fifty-fourth session of ESCAP and several countries have yet to make a contribution to SIAP. The Commission may wish to urge the countries to continue to provide financial support to SIAP. The need to increase the cash contributions from countries is still important in order to enable the Institute to operate on a stable financial basis.
VI. FOURTH SESSION OF THE GOVERNING BOARD
45. The Governing Board of SIAP held its fourth session on 18 and 19 November 1998 in Bangkok. The major substantive agenda item related to the report of the Director of SIAP, which provided an overview of the Institute's training programmes, reported on the progress made in regard to initiatives undertaken to chart the new direction of SIAP, and reflected on the impact of the initiatives on the training strategy.
46. The session was attended by representatives of the following members of the Governing Board: Australia, Fiji, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, the Republic of Korea, Singapore and Thailand. Representatives of ESCAP attended the session. Representatives of Bangladesh, the Islamic Republic of Iran, New Caledonia, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Vanuatu and Viet Nam attended the session as observers. Representatives of UNDP, FAO, the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), ECO and the secretariat of the Pacific Community also attended as observers. The Vice-Chairperson of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics from Fiji represented the Chairperson of the ESCAP Committee on Statistics, who was unable to attend. The Board elected Mr T. Skinner (Australia) and Mr M. Horie (Japan) Chairman and Vice-Chairman, respectively.
Report of the Director of SIAP
47. The Governing Board, in deliberating upon the Director's report, appreciated the management of SIAP and noted that the Director had implemented several of the recommendations made by the Governing Board at its third session. Those recommendations related, in particular, to the restructuring of the Tokyo-based courses and to the forging of collaboration with the NSOs and relevant international organizations and agencies in the implementation of SIAP activities, and expansion in the range of subjects in its outreach programme.
48. The Board identified four main elements of the strategic shifts in the Institute's approach to statistical training which, it agreed, would have a positive impact. First, the restructuring of the Tokyo-based courses and the modification of the curriculum with emphasis on flexibility would enable SIAP to respond to more demand and changing needs of the region, as well as to keep abreast with global developments in statistical methodology. Second, complementary to the Tokyo-based courses, the outreach programme had been enriched with the introduction of training activities of short duration focusing on specialized topics in statistics for specific groups of countries; that, in turn, had resulted in a significant expansion and diversification of the work programme. Third, a series of collaborative efforts with the NSOs in the conduct of SIAP training programmes had the effect of maximizing the utilization of its institutional funds. Fourth, greater benefits had been derived from country courses through the participation of neighbouring countries.
49. In reviewing the completed training programmes, the Board discussed the issue of feedback from participants, and the matter of evaluation of the courses. The Board was informed that an established procedure existed for such evaluation by participants at the end of each course, and the Board suggested that the evaluation by the countries should be combined with it. On the issue of evaluation of the courses by countries, it was pointed out that it could be difficult to gauge the impact of the training received on work done by the participant upon return. Furthermore, the beneficiary effect of a non-specialized training course could be discerned only in the longer term. Nonetheless, the Board stressed the importance of evaluation, more so with the shift to new and more interesting areas of training where favourable feedback was likely. The Governing Board asked the Institute to develop an evaluation framework for its courses at the next session.
50. The Board recognized that long-term programme issues were very important, and it emphasized that adequate thinking should be accorded to the development of the five-year plan, April 2000-March 2005, of SIAP.
51. On the future directions of SIAP training activities, the Governing Board suggested that a brief assessment of the emerging regional developments in statistical training programmes be undertaken. That would facilitate the Board's provision of guidance to the Institute on its long-term training strategy, and would enable SIAP to fulfil its mission and role as the pre-eminent regional centre for the training of statisticians.
52. The Governing Board discussed at great length the proposed restructuring of the SIAP Tokyo-based courses. With regard to the modular structure of the six-month practical statistics course, the major issues related to the duration and number of modules, their sequencing, the level of course content of each module, and the flexibility of participating in one or more of the modules. The Board recommended that the SIAP six-month course should be enriched selectively and move eventually to higher standards.
53. The Governing Board commended SIAP for introducing the IMPS software package in its training programmes, which was timely and useful, and had specific and direct applications in view of the forthcoming year 2000 population census round.
54. The Board considered that SIAP would have a role in training users on the usage of social development indicators for the monitoring of social development objectives. The training requirements of NSOs should also be addressed, as needed, to improve their capabilities in this regard.
55. The Governing Board pointed out that since SIAP is in a unique position to provide a cutting edge to the task of training statisticians, the possibility of introducing ongoing work in statistics in other United Nations agencies into the curriculum of the Institute's courses should be explored. Such issues should be raised initially at the sessions of the Governing Board. It was, however, agreed that to the extent this was done, it should be done within the overall focus of the SIAP curriculum on the training needs of the countries in the region.
56. The Board noted with appreciation that the bulk of the contributions to SIAP, both in cash and in kind, was generously provided by the Government of Japan. It noted the importance of securing the financial stability of SIAP, and encouraged the governments of members and associate members of ESCAP to continue and, if possible, increase their contributions to the Institute. The Board agreed that those countries that had not as yet met their pledge should be reminded, and it reiterated that countries that had not pledged contributions should be urged to do so.
57. The Board commended SIAP for its prudence in the utilization of funds, and endorsed the use of the surplus for advance planning of its training activities.
58. The Governing Board placed on record its deep appreciation of the contributions of the following:
(a) The host Government, Japan, for its continuing and generous support, both in cash and in kind, and for the provision of JICA fellowships;
(b) The contributing members and associate members in the region for their contributions;
(c) Members and associate members for collaboration with SIAP in its outreach programme;
(d) Other agencies of the United Nations system and other international organizations, in particular, ESCAP, FAO, the International Labour Organization (ILO), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the World Bank for their collaboration with SIAP.
59. The Governing Board expressed its gratitude to UNDP for its continued programme support to SIAP.
60. The Governing Board expressed thanks to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS); the Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong, China; the Management and Coordination Agency of Government of Japan; Statistics New Zealand; the National Computer Board of Singapore; andthe United States Bureau of the Census for providing their experts at SIAP training courses/workshops.
NUMBER OF PARTICIPANTS IN THE SIAP TRAINING PROGRAMMES,
APRIL 1998-MARCH 1999
A - Group Training Course in Practical Statistics.
B - Group Training Course in Automatic Data Processing for Trainers.
C - Group Training Course in Analysis and Interpretation of Statistics.
D - Country-Focused Group Training Course in Practical Statistics for the Kingdom of Cambodia.
CASH CONTRIBUTIONS TO SIAP, 1995-1998
(United States dollars)
Note: Thailand has contributed US$ 20,000 for 1999.
a/ Pledged at the session of the Commission.
IN-KIND CONTRIBUTIONS TO SIAP, 1997/98 AND 1998/99
(Thousands of US dollars)
a/ Estimated amount.
b/ Information not yet available.
LECTURERS PROVIDED BY GOVERNMENTS, INTERNATIONAL ORGANIZATIONS AND AGENCIES, 1997/98 AND 1998/99
a/ Each day comprises four sessions.
SOURCES OF FELLOWSHIPS, 1997/98 AND 1998/99