June 16, 2019 05:40

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'Calculating' underground and illegal economic data: it’s very difficult

10:17 | 16/03/2019

VCN- This is the judgment of Mr. Nguyen Bich Lam (photo), the General Director of the General Statistics Office in a discussion with the press around the statistics project of unobserved economic sector. It will be officially implemented from 2020.

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Dear Sir, why do we now have a question about the unobserved economic sector?

In fact, for statistical agencies in particular, it is necessary to sufficiently collect all production and business activities taking place in the economy, including production and business activities in the observed or unobserved area. In fact, in the past few years, the following three components, including unofficial economic activity has not been observed, because household economic activities, self-consumption and economic activities are omitted in the program of statistical data collection ... These have been periodically evaluated by the General Statistics Office.

Accordingly, every year, information will be collected to assess the informal economic sector and self-consumption of households every 5 years. Through censuses and administrative databases, the General Statistics Office has additionally assessed the scale of the economy. Specifically, since 2013, the General Statistics Office has collected information to assess the scale of these three unobserved economic sectors, in other words, the unobserved economic sector has 5 components. Then the General Statistics Office has implemented three final components over the past several years.

There are many opinions that because there is a loss of tax revenue so we have set the problem of calculating the unobserved economic sector, is that right?

The need to assess this economic sector is that for an economy, we need data that reflects the true picture of the economy. The authentic statistics will serve as a basis for the Government, ministries, branches and localities to assess the situation in order to provide solutions and policies to manage the economy to achieve the objectives of proposed socio-economic development. Besides, statistical data is also a basis for building a five-year socio-economic development plan and a ten-year socio-economic development strategy. Therefore, the complete and accurate statistical data will help the Party and the National Assembly and the Government to set the goals of economic development in each period.

There is an idea that statistics of the unobserved economic sector is collecting taxes. I would like to remind people that the responsibility of statistics is to reflect the true picture of the economy, so by implementing this project, we aim to reflect the scale of the economy, helping the Government, ministries and branches have a correct view, for giving operating solutions, developing economic development strategies to fulfill the aspiration of how to become a global player in 2045. This is also the expectation of the Government.

Dear Sir, the 5 elements that are affected by this project, which group is supposed to have caused the biggest tax loss until 2018?

We have not evaluated which element and groups cause significant tax losses. With the current legal environment and with the provisions of tax policy, and especially with the self-discipline of production and business organizations having responsibility to report business results to statistical agencies through surveys or settlement reports for tax agencies ... what shows is a tendency not to reflect their correct business results. Therefore, there is a phenomenon that the statistical agency has not obtained a picture of accurate data. Therefore, the level of tax losses will be different in each element of the unobserved economic sector.

According to the plan, by 2020, the Statistics project of unobserved economic sector will be implemented officially. So, has the General Statistics Office identified any advantages and difficulties when implementing this economic sector statistical scheme?

Having mentioned the unobserved economic sector, especially the underground economic area, the illegal economy, we determined that it would be difficult to calculate and collect the data. There are three components as mentioned above. The statistics industry is still continuing to research and innovate the method of collecting information, for proposing to coordinate with other ministries and branches, and to use different information sources. We hope to minimize the lack of information of the last three components. For the underground economic sector, or the illegal economy, the statistics industry will coordinate with other ministries to determine what is the content of these two components. Thereby determining which activities belong to which sectors. Based on that, the General Statistics Office will coordinate with the relevant agencies, offer solutions and ways to collect information for the most accurate assessment.

In terms of convenience, firstly, we have a centralized statistical system, with a team of methodically good statisticians. Secondly, the Government is very interested in the quality of statistical information, so that the Government can have solutions to create conditions for the statistical industry to coordinate with other sectors to gather all information so we have authentic assessment of the economic picture of the country.

Sir, what conditions are needed to get the most accurate information of these economic regions?

In our opinion, in order to have accurate information about these economic areas, we need the following factors: Firstly, there should be a legal environment and good sanctions for business establishments, including individual business households for providing the most complete and accurate information. Secondly, it is necessary to have a team of statisticians with a high sense of responsibility in performing professional tasks, thereby having the most accurate information. Thirdly, the trend of world statistics is using administrative data. In the past, the Statistics industry has cooperated very well with the General Department of Taxation, Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to share data. In particular, the General Department of Taxation's data is an additional source of data for the General Statistics Office which is very effective. Through coordination with the General Department of Taxation, we can determine the number of businesses where we have not collected and supplemented from the General Department of Taxation. In addition, we can also provide data from the census and individual investigations to the tax authorities for solutions and policies to improve the legal environment for effective tax operations.

Thank you Sir!

By Thu Hien/ Quynh Lan