The Minister against numbers: Rosstat why it is not necessary to subordinate the Ministry of economic development

Other author’s opinions

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When criticism comes from Rosstat Agency responsible for economic forecasts, it seems that it is not as a statistic and wish that the next forecast looked better

“Statistics published by Rosstat in February is not representative and for fundamental and technical reasons”, — with such an unusual statement was made by the Minister of economic development Maxim Oreshkin. The Minister “understanding” attitude to the fundamental problems, saying that “the base of the past, leap year, adopted the basis, and the transfer in February of this year, extra holidays distorted the statistics”. But about a technical problem he spoke very straightforward: “From a technical point of view, was extremely unfortunate transition Rosstat on a new methodology: at the beginning of the year there were frequent postponements of publication, current estimates are not always based on real accounting data.”

This statement was because in the Russian power structures has long been not made publicly criticize their colleagues and to issue to the public’s attention the differences between the agencies in the discussion of any concerns. In addition, Rosstat for many years is in direct subordination to the Prime Minister, and thus, the assessment of its activities does not fall within the scope of responsibility of the Minister of economy.

Despite the fact that I myself am highly critical of much of what makes or does not make the state statistics service, the statement of the Minister. I did not like. First, the fact that Rosstat is easy to criticize problems in his work enough, and many experts are engaged. But Maxim Oreshkin, though, and is a qualified economist, his current position is not an expert, but a senior official, the duties of which is to solve the problems. And in this case we are not heard, not only of proposals for their solution, but not even heard of the normal diagnosis — why is it so happened that Rosstat is unable to perform its basic functions and to give the public objective information about the state of the country.

Another point, which is alarming in the statement of the Minister, is that it followed the publication, I will not say disastrous, but clearly not enough optimistic economic results of February. Surprisingly, it turns out that the Minister. had no claims to the work of Rosstat, at the end of last year, the statistical office published based on new methodology the data about dynamics of industrial production, and in the beginning of this year about the dynamics of GDP, despite the fact that those and other data was significantly better than previously published by Rosstat and allowed officials at all levels to speak out loud and simultaneously at each corner of the end of recession and beginning of economic growth.

In this regard, I was very alarmed. is the following sentence: “All this means that the published data for January and February can be further significantly revised”. If the issues of January and February we were told by the head of Rosstat and he said that the results of not only these two months, but all the other may be revised upon receipt of new information (which sounds quite rational), then I would take it for granted. But when such a phrase comes from the mouth of the Minister responsible for the preparation of the macroeconomic forecast, which would form the basis of the budget for the 2018, I suspect that in fact the Minister defends the quality of Russian statistics, and I think that his office prepared the forecast looked better.

Change curator

But even more disturbing that the phrase of the Minister. becomes on the background appeared rumors about the fact that Rosstat will again give to obedience the Ministry of economic development — in this structure, it sounds like the Minister’s commitment to improve statistics. Does anyone can seriously believe that the change of the curator of Rosstat will immediately lead to the decision of its human, organizational, methodological, financial problems? Oh, by the way, the budget for 2017-2019 years, pledged a sharp reduction in the costs of operation of Rosstat: minus 5.6% in 2018 and minus 11.8% in 2019, with 5% and 4% inflation in 2017-2018, it is equivalent to the reduction of expenditures in real terms by 24%. Just do not say that money is not the functioning of the Rosstat, in the current year will be allocated slightly less than 14.5 billion rubles, less than 0.1% of all Federal spending and only slightly more than what pays the Federal budget to the owners of the system “Platon”, the proceeds of which are formed due to the reduction of revenues of regional budgets.

No doubt: in Russian statistics have accumulated a huge amount of problems that are not solved for years. And the longer postponed their decision, the more distorted becomes the picture of the world around us, which draws Rosstat. But to believe that the Ministry of economic development will find time, I find it difficult — look for the interest on the list of issues within its area of responsibility today, and tell me, maybe I’m wrong?

The authors ‘ point of view, articles which are published in the section “Opinions” may not coincide with ideas of editorial.

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