His Excellency, President Yasser Arafat, ratified on 08/06/2000 the General Statistics Law no (4) for 2000, out of his belief in the important position official statistics occupies as a basic pillar in any civic system in any democratic society, owing to the importance of statistics for development decision makers and planners in any country. In accordance with the directions of His Excellency, the General Statistics Law no (4) for 2000 was based on the statistical experiences of many developed countries, taking into account that this law is among the basic factors for securing Palestine’s membership in the international statistical community.
The importance of the Law:
The official statistical system comprises a set of laws, means, methods, and tools utilized in collecting raw data and re-disseminate them in the form of statistical tables. The official statistics system is based on a set of laws regulating the legal and social environment for data collection and ensuring data flow from public institutions and agencies. The work of a Central Bureau of Statistics in any society is governed by a special law issued by the legislative authorities. Such a law is usually issued to enable a central bureau of statistics to render its data collection functions from the different sources and produce statistics essential for reconstruction and development, in addition to ensuring data confidentiality for individuals and institutions.
The principles of statistical confidentiality
All individual information and data submitted to the Bureau for statistical purposes shall be treated as confidential and shall not be divulged, in whole or in part, to any individual or to a public or private body, or used for any purpose other than for preparing statistical tables.
The Bureau shall endeavor to issue official statistical publications in aggregate tables, which do not disclose individual data, in conformity with the confidentiality of statistical data.
Each employee or designated employee shall sign an affidavit according to whichhe shall not divulge, disseminate, or transmit any information or data that is protected as confidential.
Independent Central Bureau of Statistics:
The independence of a Central Bureau of Statistics is essential for enhancing the credibility of statistical figures at the national and international levels in addition to enhancing the confidence of individuals and institutions in statistics. This, consequently, increases the potentials of obtaining accurate figures during data collection from individuals and institutions. Likewise, the Bureau is a state institution that provides service to the governmental, non – governmental and private sectors in addition to research institutions and universities. Data disseminated by a statistical bureau are partially related to the general performance of the government. Furthermore, the independence of statistical bureaus is stipulated in the laws of many countries.
Advisory Council for Statistics:
The importance of forming an advisory council for statistics emanates from its cruciality for laying the general framework as well as directing the priorities of the statistical programs in accordance with national interests. The advisory council is a national body comprising representatives from the governmental, non – governmental and private sectors in addition to academic personalities. The membership of the council is determined based on nominations from the council of ministers. This ensures that the composition of the council involves fully qualified personalities along with national and legal personalities capable of giving solid advise on the national statistical priorities. Nevertheless, the council had no whatsoever legislative or executive authorities in terms of the daily management of statistical activities. The council does not assume the functions of a board of trustees. It is neither part of the Central Bureau of Statistics nor follows up the daily administrative and technical activities of the bureau.
The importance of Establishing Statistical Units in the Ministries:
To enhance coordination between the Bureau and the ministries.
To make use of data available in the field of a ministry’s scope of work and prepare such data for dissemination or for the use of the Bureau or the ministry.
To maximize the potentials for launching crucial functions inside the ministry, such as planning, studies and research.
To work with the Bureau on ensuring the proper data flow from the ministry to the Bureau.
To enable the Bureau to take into account the statistical needs of the ministry.
Statistical Units Implies Less Cost and Optimal Utilization!
The establishment of statistical units in the ministries implies the availability of minimal ingredients of strategic planning and requirements of proper data flow from the ministries. Besides, the establishment of such units does not necessarily mean recruiting additional staff but rather proper investment in the available cadre to ensure optimal utilization of data available in every ministry. The negative consequences of not establishing such units, coupled with lack of strategic planning based on accurate statistics, are very much higher than the costs associated with the establishment of such units
Coordination between the Central Bureau of Statistics and Governmental Institutions:
The basic principles of official statistics, issued by the United Nations, stress the importance of coordination between governmental institutions and Central Bureaus of Statistics to ensure harmony and efficiency in the statistical system. Prior coordination ensures the use of standard international concepts, classifications and techniques in the collection, processing, and dissemination of statistical data. In addition, the prior Bureau’s approval of any statistical data collection activity by governmental institutions minimizes any possible duplication of work. Data intended to be collected might be available in the Bureau, which gives the governmental institutions the opportunity to concentrate their efforts on ways of utilizing data instead of wasting resources on trying to obtain such data.
What are Administrative Records and Central Registers?
Administrative records refer to data collected by governmental institutions for different administrative purposes. Central registers are the basic registers in any country. They represent sets of fields on various units related to a common subject along with the changes that occur on such units such as the population register, traffic and licensing department registers, tax register, buildings register, business register ….etc. Administrative records along with censuses and surveys are basic factors of the statistical system. The basic principles of official statistics stress the cruciality of relying upon proper sources while taking into account data quality and accuracy, timing, cost, and burdens on respondents.