MANILA – Reliable and timely population and social statistics are crucial in monitoring the country’s progress in meeting development targets under the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and estimating the impact of disasters, according to the National Economic and Development Authority.

“The demand for official statistics, both at the national and local levels, will grow as the Philippine government continues to rely on statistical data and hard evidence for crafting its policy-decisions and actions,” said Economic Planning Secretary Arsenio M. Balisacan in his statement for the Philippine Statistical Authority’s (PSA) Forum of Population and Social Statistics last March 20, held at Astoria Hotel in Pasig City.

Balisacan expressed support for enhancing government’s capacity to provide high-quality statistical information. He noted the greater awareness on the potential of new data sources for generating reliable and useful statistics.

“The MDGs include verifiable targets that need to be monitored. This has promoted dialogue among policymakers, civil society and statisticians not only in the design of national goals but also in the preparation of regular monitoring reports using statistics,” he said.

“In the Philippines, there has been an increase in the demand for and the production of local-level statistics to support the Aquino government’s poverty reduction programs and projects such as the DSWD’s Pantawid Program and PhilHealth’s National Health Insurance Program” said Balisacan, who is also NEDA Director-General.

He also underscored the importance of more timely and relevant statistics in minimizing the impact of natural disasters.

“This need for data cannot be overemphasized in the Philippines after the recent devastation by Typhoon Yolanda. As recovery efforts continue, we need better information so that we can identify the most vulnerable groups in need of ongoing support,” the Cabinet official said.

He added that statistics are instrumental in designing appropriate support for rebuilding affected communities and people’s lives.

“They also enable us to monitor the effectiveness of the assistance the government is providing and point us in the right direction for making appropriate adjustments,” said Balisacan.

He added that the discussion on Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the post-2015 development agenda has also sparked debates on the availability of reliable population and social statistics.

“For statistical systems to remain relevant and equipped to meet the increasing demands for information, statistical capacity building must be treated as a high priority issue that merits attention at the highest levels,” Balisacan concluded.