China economy

China’s statistics bureau to take over accounting of provincial GDP data to combat fraud

Problem of discrepancy between regional and national GDP figures has improved, but gap is still large, official says

PUBLISHED : Monday, 30 October, 2017, 3:31pm
UPDATED : Monday, 30 October, 2017, 3:31pm

China’s National Bureau of Statistics will take over data collection at the regional level from 2019, a government official said, replacing the current system in which the combined economic output of the nation’s provinces has long exceeded the official total for the country as a whole.

Li Xiaochao, the bureau’s deputy head, said on Monday there had been significant improvement in the long-standing discrepancy between national and regional GDP data.

The government had stepped up inspections of potentially fraudulent data and was working towards unifying the accounting systems used by national and local authorities.

“The problem of discrepancy between regional and national GDP data has significantly improved, but [the gap] is still large,” Li said in an interview with China Information News that was published on the bureau’s website on Monday.

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“This situation is not conducive to accurately understanding regional economic trends, scientifically implementing macroeconomic controls, and impacts the credibility of government statistics,” Li said. The gap has been narrowing, but the discrepancy between provincial GDP and the national figure was still 2.76 trillion yuan (US$415.1 billion) last year, according to Reuters calculations.

Several cases of falsified government data have been publicised over the past year, with high-level officials pledging harsh penalties for making fraudulent submissions.

Li said the NBS would work with regional statistics agencies to compile regional data, with national and regional data to be released together once the new system is in place. The statistics office said it would push forward inclusion of research and development spending into regional GDP data, and would research methods for calculating service output from owner-occupied housing as part of improving its statistical methods.