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Editorial | Irrelevant data?

For government agencies, figures that depict the reality on the ground are very important because these become the bases in formulating programs especially those would benefit the ones in the lowest rungs of the economy.

As the possessor of government data, the Philippine Statistics Authority, based on its website (www.psa.gov.ph), is mandated “to plan, develop, prescribe, disseminate and enforce policies, rules and regulations and coordinate government-wide programs governing the production of official statistics, general-purpose statistics, and civil registration services.”

“It shall primarily be responsible for all national censuses and surveys, sectoral statistics, consolidation of selected administrative recording systems and compilation of national accounts,” it added.

The problem is, most often than not, the agency releases the figures of surveys conducted at least a year ago. Question is, do these pieces of information – necessary to craft crucial programs – serve their respective purposes?

Take for one the report that its regional office released late last month, which was based on the 2018 report, which bared that for every 100 individuals in the region, 19 of them could be considered as poor. Simple arithmetic extrapolation would mean that one in five was poor in 2018.

The report defined poor as those who “were not able to meet the basic food and non-food requirements.”

The figures of the same report were compared with the figures of the same categories of three years ago.

As premised above, actual figures and projections are necessary in crafting programs crucial to addressing the challenges to the society. In other countries – and because of the fast-pace movements in the economy nowadays– even come up with monthly reports on basic pieces information like poverty and job-related statistics because of their importance.

Unless the Philippine government, or its agencies that are tasked to come up with verifiable and timely data, programs cannot be relied on to address the challenges that they are supposed to fight.

One may only remember what Marissa Mayer, one time the chief executive officer of Yahoo!, who says: “With data collection, `the sooner the better’ is always the best answer.”

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