'Time to get tough on data cheats'
Law to curb the doctoring of statistics lacks teeth: NPC official
A vice-chairman of the National People's Congress has called for an overhaul of the nation's Statistics Law to help stamp out the common practice of lower authorities fudging data reported to the central government.
Jiang Zhenghua said the existing law only described principles and lacked practical measures to ensure its implementation.
Mr Jiang also told the People's Daily that punishment for breaking the law was too mild and not as clear as in other legislation.
'Generally speaking, the Statistics Law is still a good law. But as situations change, some aspects of the legislation do not fit with the needs of the socialist market economy and should be modified,' he said.
Lower-level officials are thought to routinely doctor statistics reported to higher authorities or the central government because the numbers are considered an important index of their achievements in office.
'In some places, officials have incited, or even forced statistics departments to report false figures, to reflect [good] achievements in their own interests,' Mr Jiang said.
'These cases are a minority, but have an abominable influence and corrupt the whole environment.'
The People's Daily reported earlier this year that an official ordered a zero be added to the annual production value of a township enterprise in northwest China to change the output from 3 million to 30 million yuan.
Between 2001 and 2003, 59,200 violations of the Statistics Law were uncovered across the nation. Government bodies contravening the law face a range of disciplinary action from 'circulated criticism' to 'administrative discipline'. But officials cannot be removed from office and no practical punishment is meted out.
'A discipline decision is usually made by the violator's supervisory department or local government. However, the former and the latter have common interests in [falsifying] statistics, which impedes punishment or ensures the punishment decision is hard to make,' Mr Jiang said.
Mr Jiang said a maximum fine of 50,000 yuan meant 'the cost of violating the law is too low'.
He advocated introducing higher fines as well as other forms of punishment such as warnings and media exposure of violations.