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20.04.2004 General News

Keep Statistical Service out of politics- Twum-Baah

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Accra, April 20, GNA - The Ghana Statistical Service (GSS) has asked the media not to draw it into partisan political debate, but to leave it to carry out the professional and objective functions it has been assigned.

This was contained in a statement issued in Accra on Tuesday by Dr. K.A. Twum-Baah, Acting Government Statistician and Census Coordinator, to address what the Service said was "the misinformation, misinterpretation and unfortunate attempt to draw the GSS and Dr Twum-Baah into partisan politics.

The statement noted that an article in "The Insight", a private newspaper, was posted at the "Ghana Home Page of April 15 2004 with the headline "Ghanaians Are Poorer" on the Internet.

The statement said the GSS was sure of what sources "The Insight" depended on for its information on the so-called "pressure from the government to suppress the study" or the "government prevailing on the Service not to release the full report to the public until after the 2004 elections.

"If the Editor of the newspaper has real insight, he would have known that such presumptions could never take place. The GSS has never failed to release a report at its intended time because of political pressure and never will do so.

"The Government Statistician, as Head of the GSS, authorises the release of reports and not the government; any delays in release of reports are, therefore, entirely due to the need for diligence and quality assessment to ensure reliable data", the GSS said.

The statement said the Planning Committee for the celebration of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP), on which the Acting Government Statistician served, had decided on: "Information: A Tool for Poverty Reduction", as the theme for 2003 and the committee had requested the GSS to share results of the Core Welfare Indicators Questionnaire (CWIQ) at the forum.

It said the GSS completed the district-based CWIQ survey in the second quarter of 2003, while data processing and generation of tabulation took a while to complete.

The GSS said data processing at the district level was more involving and required much attention to detail, and so at the time of the 2003 IDEP celebration, the data processing activities had not been completed, and only preliminary results of selected variables were presented.

The statement indicated that since then, the final results at the regional level had been completed and that the generation of results for the districts was at an advanced stage and would be published next year. It said good governance had rightly assumed centre stage in the current development effort, because if development programmes were to impact positively on the population, they would depend on the effective harnessing and efficient management of resources.

The statement further held that good governance required an effective system to monitor and hold planners accountable for their performance.

It said although the public had the right to information that could empower them to subject the government to civil scrutiny and regulatory oversight, no one had the right to misuse the given information for personal gain.

"Selective use of data and deliberate distortion of information for private agenda, as demonstrated by "The Insight", becomes a disservice to the nation, the target audience and even calls onto question the integrity of those, who use data that way." 20 April 04

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