25th National Statistics Month Opening Ceremony
Bayview Park Hotel, Manila
1 October 2014

Director General, National Economic and Development Authority,
Secretary for Socioeconomic Planning,
and Chairperson, Philippine Statistics Authority Board

National Statistician Lisa Grace Bersales, Interim Deputy National Statisticians Lina Castro, Romeo Recide and Paula Monina Collado, Executive Director Zita Villa Juan-Albacea of the Philippine Statistical Research and Training Institute (PSRTI), friends and stakeholders of the Philippine Statistical System; colleagues from the government, friends from the academe, international organizations, private sector and the media, ladies and gentlemen, good morning.

It is my pleasure to speak before you in this milestone celebration of the 25th National Statistics Month (NSM). I congratulate the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) for leading the Philippine Statistical System’s efforts to improve the responsiveness of official statistics to policy and data users’ needs. Your constant rally for the correct and effective use of official statistics has notably extended from the decision makers to the general public. Your yearly highlights of sectoral statistics through the annual observance of the NSM, coordination of statistical conferences, and the triennial conduct of the National Convention on Statistics (NCS) have paved the way for increased consciousness on the information needs in critical sectors. These reflect the shifts in private and public, and national and local development planning priorities.

I would also like to express my appreciation of the statistical advocacy contributions of the different agencies, which previously hosted the various annual celebrations of the NSM since its inception in 1990. With the resources that you have generously shared, the NSM has successfully promoted official statistics on sectors and concerns such as governance and decentralization, public-private partnership, environmental sustainability, tourism, education, S&T and innovation, energy and consumer awareness, micro-, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs), agricultural and fishery modernization, social protection, employment and decent work, peace and security, and statistical research.

To the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP), which has been hosting the closing ceremonies of the NSM since 2001, I’d like to thank you for your genuine and continuous support to the promotion for increased use of statistics. My appreciation also to the Philippine Statistical Association, Inc., for hosting the closing ceremonies from 1995 to 1999, and to the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) for partnering with the NSM Secretariat in the conduct of interagency tree-planting activities since 2006.

In 2004, NEDA hosted the opening ceremony for the observance of the 15th NSM with the theme “Rising beyond global challenges through quality Philippine statistics,” alongside the opening ceremonies for the 9th National Convention on Statistics, the International Conference on Official Poverty Statistics, the 2nd ASEAN Technical Group Meeting on Statistical Classifications and the Statistical Information Management Exhibition.

This year, we have a similar theme that leads us to gauge what we have accomplished and how we fare compared to other countries in terms of our statistical endeavors. The theme is “NSM at 25 and beyond: Solid and responsive Philippine Statistical System in support of globalization and regional economic integration.”

Inevitably, the approaching deadline for achieving our national targets in line with the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and the incipient integration of economic and fiscal policies within the Southeast Asian region in 2015 require us in NEDA and all other policy watchers and development planners to keenly track our national progress vis-à-vis the performance of our neighbors. Uncertainties in light of our country’s increased openness to trade and participation in information and cultural exchange also compel us to be vigilant about the changes in key development indicators and direct us to think progressively in overcoming impending threats to the robust growth of our economy. Thus, official statistics that meet the standards of reliability and timeliness are indispensable, especially in the execution of our plans and programs.

The ASEAN integration will usher in both cooperation and competition. Thus, statistics will be our guide in verifying the relevance and sustainability of our current programs benefitting the nation. Similarly, good quality statistics will facilitate the identification of areas for further development, which will aid us in steering cohesive national and local-level direction for our people to reap the optimal gains from regional integration.

As an oversight agency tasked to monitor national development outcomes, NEDA has extensively made use of official statistics released by the PSA and other data producers to determine our targets and gauge the country’s performance in terms of these targets. Hence, we in NEDA support the initiative to update the Philippine Statistical Development Program for 2011-2017 cognizant of the ASEAN integration in 2015 and in line with the Updated Philippine Development Plan and current developments in the PSS structure.

In the past 25 years, we have seen various administrations with different strategic priorities but the challenges we face in development – poverty, unemployment, hunger, access to education, environmental degradation, among others – remain. Also constant is that these challenges have imposed the need to generate relevant statistical information.

In looking at the different faces of poverty in the country for example, statistics have been key to better achieve the objectives of the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program (4Ps), our government’s flagship program to reduce intergenerational poverty. In response to stakeholders’ demands, more timely and frequent releases of poverty statistics using data from the Family Income and Expenditure Survey (FIES) and Annual Poverty Indicator Survey (APIS) have been started since December 2013 with the perseverance of the Technical Committee on Poverty Statistics (TCPovStat) and the technical staff of the PSA. Latest statistics show that in the first semester of 2013, poverty incidence among Filipinos was estimated at 24.9 percent, down from 27.9 percent in the same period in 2012.

The unification of the Bureau of Agricultural Statistics, Bureau of Labor and Employment Statistics, National Statistical Coordination Board and National Statistics Office to form the PSA, signifies the start of bridging the information gaps and addressing the constant and evolving need for quality and timely statistical information. Moreover, the new structure moves for improving transparency in governance by reducing duplication of efforts and shortening the transaction time for statistical stakeholders.

Despite being plagued by the inadequacy of statistical human resources needed to address emerging concerns throughout the years, the PSS has performed well in general. In fact, it leads all other ASEAN Member States (excluding Brunei Darussalam and Singapore) in the statistical capacity rankings of the World Bank’s Bulletin Board on Statistical Capacity (BBSC). I commend all the men and women in the PSS who have vigorously worked to sustain the country’s reputable standing in the international statistical community.

Let me also acknowledge our development partners for helping realize this accomplishment particularly the World Bank, through Dr. Karl Chua, for their overwhelming support to the advancement of statistical capacity in the Philippines and in assisting the PSA during its transition phase.

Again, I congratulate the PSA for this event, also for being among the top 10 government agencies according to the Makati Business Club’s Executive Outlook Survey Rankings and for celebrating its first year anniversary last September 12. I join you in your vision of a solid and responsive PSA, and I support your efforts in promoting efficiency and relevance in the delivery of statistical products and services. May this month-long observance of the NSM be a celebration of excellence, solidarity and camaraderie within the PSS geared towards producing world-class official statistics.

Good afternoon and Happy National Statistics Month!