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23.11.2004 General News

Centralise statistics collation to stem corruption

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Accra, Nov. 23, GNA - The fight against corruption could fully be won when collation of statistical data on the inflow of resources in to the regions and districts is centralised, Professor Ernest Aryeetey, Director of the Institute of Statistical, Social and Economic Research (ISSER) of the University of Ghana, Legon, said on Tuesday.

He told the GNA that statistical data on the inflow of resources from the various Sector Ministries and Development Partners were available in scattered forms and that did not allow for proper monitoring of the application of such resources.

He said the current decentralised system of collating statistics made it easy for corruption to persist in the regions and districts.

Prof. Aryeetey was speaking at the opening of a three-day seminar on statistical organisation and user-producer relations, jointly organised by the United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs and United Nations Statistical Division in collaboration with the ECOWAS Secretariat, UN Economics Commission and the Statistical Services of Ghana (SSG).

The seminar, which is under the theme: "Strengthening the Capacities of Statistical Organisations for effective Monitoring of the Millennium Development Goals in West African States", is being attended by about 20 heads of statistics from West African countries.

It is to create a forum for heads of statistics in West African states to learn more about how to generate user-specific data to ensure that the generation and compilation of statistical data in these countries were relevant to the problems of the sub-region Prof. Aryeetey noted that whereas all Sector Ministries in Ghana had collated a lot of statistical data on the level of poverty in the various regions and districts, statistical data on how much the ministries gave to the regions to run poverty eradication projects, were not readily available.

"It should be possible for instance for every Sector Ministry to collate data of all its projects in all the regions and districts, instead of leaving the collation of such data at the district and regional levels."

Prof Aryeetey said the current system was carried over from the unconstitutional era when people could not and did not ask questions about the resource inflow and their application. However, he stressed, this was a democratic era when people needed such information to work with and they should be readily available.

"Moreover the proper collation of such data at the ministerial level would help to monitor the application of such resource and also help to stem corruption in the districts."

Dr Nii-Noi Ashong, Minister of State in charge of Finance and Economic Planning, said in Ghana the policy of decentralisation implied that all statistics and indicators were now to be produced and disseminated at the district level, which was currently the basic level of administration.

He said the policy necessitated that statistics unit at the district level worked closely with the District Assemblies to meet the planning needs at that level.

Dr Ashong suggested that to ensure proper monitoring of resource inflow into the districts and regions, there should be a national statistical system, in which statistics producing agencies of the various governmental institutions worked together as a team in the production and compilation of statistics, with the national statistics office playing a central co-ordinating role.

He said properly generated and well-compiled statistical data would not only help to stem corruption, but also help to improve the capacity of West African countries at monitoring the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).

Dr Ashong said a minimum of 48 indicators should be generated locally to monitor progress made in the achievement of the MDGs. These indicators could be readily available from current statistical systems in various West African countries.

"It is, therefore, critical that national statistical capacity be strengthened to enable ECOWAS member countries to satisfy their own data needs and provide the necessary data for effective monitoring of the progress on the achievement of the MDGs."

He said it was important that statistics producers maintained constant communication with users, to ensure that they produced user-specific statistics that would be relevant to the needs of government, private sector and academia.

Dr Ashong also urged the participants at the seminar to evolve ways of how statistics producers could take advantage of information and communication technology (ICT) to facilitate the generation, compilation and dissemination of statistical data to users.

Dr Grace Bediako, Government Statistician, noted that while economic statistical data was in abundance in most West African countries, social statistics was grossly inadequate, saying that the achievement of the MDGs was dependent on a social impact of the development agenda. 23 Nov. 04

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