entitled "Critical Developments in Official Statistics" by Prof. Paul
Cheung Director of the Statistics Division of the United Nations,
in the Saker Hall Fairmont Hotel Abu Dhabi, as part of a series
of specialized lectures in statistics, organized in the context of
SCAD’s strategic initiative for promotion of statistical awareness.
The lecture was attended by HE Butti Ahmed Mohammed Bin
Butti Al Qubaisi, Director General of Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi,
HE Rashid Al Suwaidi, Director General of the National Bureau
of Statistics and a number of the members of SCAD’s Advisory
Committee and senior officials, besides representatives from
various local departments and government bodies and a crowd of
researchers and statisticians.
SCAD welcomed the lecturer, pointing out that he is one of the
most prominent statistical experts in Singapore, and serves as
Director of the United Nations Statistics Division. Prof. Cheung
organized the first-ever
World Day of Statistics, on 20/10/2010, with the active participation
of more than 140 countries and 40 organizations worldwide. This
occasion will be observed annually.
The Economic Crisis
At the outset Prof. Cheung praised the tremendous development in
the Emirate of Abu Dhabi and the emirate’s success in overcoming
the global financial crisis. In fact Prof. Cheung used this approach
to shed light on some global issues and the way they are affected
by statistics, focusing on the economic crisis and pointing out that
developed countries are not equally successful in navigating their
way through the crisis, while some developing nations have shown
stronger indicators of success in overcoming the crisis.
According to Professor Cheung, there are some new crises
looming on the economic horizon, such as a "currency war" and
the protectionist policy pursued by some states, triggering serious
problems at the international level. The lecturer also touched
on the strategic issue of food security, which is one of the most
important problems facing humanity, adding that climate change is
another potential source of international crises.
Development in the Middle East
Prof. Paul Chung was especially interested in throwing light
on development issues in the Middle East. He remarked that
the Middle East is one of the areas least affected by the global
financial crisis compared to other regions of the world, citing the
region's limited ties to global markets, which keeps it at bay from a
host of economic risks.
Prof. Cheung explained that there are many challenges
confronting world countries in the implementation of their
development policies, such as drawing appropriate plans to secure
national interests in the face of globalization, as the success
of every country in the managing globalization and addressing
the intense competition is a major determinant for the future of
that country. In this regard countries need to work on increasing
efficiency and encourage innovation and creativity.
World’s top financial centres
In a ranking of the world financial centres, United Nations official,
Prof. Paul Cheung showed that London was in the forefront,
followed by New York, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tokyo.
Prof. Cheung also shed the spotlight on the key drivers of
sustainable development in a turbulent world, emphasizing the
need for responsive, unified and smart governments and calling
for re-examination of the government role, with government
intervention being seen as necessary as in risk and crisis
management. He also stressed the need to enhance the resilience
of the domestic economy, nurture new economic engines and build
strong institutions and infrastructures.
According to Prof. Cheung, this requires building an effective
national information and official statistics system as key strategic
driver of competitiveness. It is also important to ensure that data
are aggregated and analyzed for quick decision support, which in
turn requires the “one government” paradigm.
The role of official statistics
Prof. Cheung stressed to the role of official statistics as the
source of strategic information for decision-making and an aid in
rapid assessment of sectoral performance, forecasting and early
warning, monitoring of risks and vulnerabilities, including the risks
and contingencies associated with computers.
The credibility of statistics bureaus
Prof. Cheung for professional further added that credibility of
centres require the availability of certain basic criteria, such as
independence, trustworthiness, accountability and transparency
and statistical soundness and accessibility, stressing the need for
an institutional framework for the collection and dissemination of
data, in addition to the coordination of statistical activities in the
country to minimize duplication in the collection of statistics.
Professor Cheung discussed some of the latest methods of
collecting statistical data, which include Internet based surveys
and database updating and data capture imaging techniques. He
emphasized the role of information technology in bringing about
the aspired development in data collection and analysis through a
high level system for the management, storage and integration of
information with maps and geographic platforms.
Prof. Cheung reviewed the key and latest approaches in the areas
of economic and social statistics as applied to the world population
census programme in 2010, as well as to the consumer price index
and household surveys.
Measure of welfare
Prof. Cheung pointed out that the GDP is not a sufficient indicator
of as a measure of economic well-being, adding that the United
Nations looks prefers to look at the indicators of income and
consumption rather than production in measuring the levels
of well-being. The lecturer also drew attention to the need to
distinguish between the current assessment of well-being and the
assessment of its sustainability.
Prof. Cheung concluded the lecture with a discussion of
environmental statistics and the most important global
environmental issues such as the strong impacts of climate
change, with a focus on the challenges facing statistical work in
the first half of the 21st century, the daunting efforts needed to
cope with rapid developments of the modern era and the need
to act proactively, taking advantage of electronic analysis and
Finally, the lecturer answered questions from the audience and
praised the efforts and achievements of Statistics Centre - Abu
Dhabi in the service of all sectors of development in the emirate,
adding that the centre has made substantial achievements
recently. According to Prof. Cheung SCAD plan is ambitious and
achievable if the Centre progresses at the same pace.
Cooperation with the United Nations
In conclusion HE Butti Ahmed Mohammed Bin Butti Al Qubaisi,
Director General of Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi thanked Prof.
Paul Cheung the valuable lecture, re-iterating the Centres desire
to for continued cooperation with the United Nations Statistics
Division (UNSD), praising the UNSD’s role of the Division in
supporting the development of the global statistical system, setting
of international statistical standards, dissemination of statistical
data and provision of technical advice to member countries on the
development of national statistical systems, plus a range of other
important activities. HE Al Qubaisi also indicated that SCAD will
continue to organize similar lectures in the context of the Centre’s
initiative for the promotion statistical awareness.
HE Al Qubaisi remarked that the lecture highlighted the importance
of official statistics as a source of government data, emphasizing
their role in nurturing the culture of excellence among individuals
and organizations alike, by highlighting the challenges that hinder
development. including the need to maintain a high degree of
appropriateness of policies to the actual needs in the area of
official statistics, and the introduction of new methods of data
collection method and the official statistics, using advanced
techniques to improve the quality and efficiency of statistical
production and dissemination, with the importance of analyzing the
Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi had begun a series of lectures last
February with a lecture on "official statistics", by Professor Brian
Pink Chief Statistician of the government of Australia and Director
of the Australian Bureau of Statistics, who presented the lecture
during an official visit to Statistics Centre - Abu Dhabi.