Aware of the need to modernize and improve statistical production efficiency and quality, and following-up on the recommendation of its Statistical Committee in its eleventh session, ESCWA organized a regional workshop on "Statistical Business Registers for Arab Countries" in collaboration with the Arab Institute for Training and Research in Statistics, the UN Statistics Division, and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) on 26-29 September 2016, in Amman, Jordan.
The workshop aimed at assisting member states in the development of their statistical systems by establishing statistical business registers (SBRs) that are increasingly becoming pillar infrastructure, providing the statistical frames on which different economic statistics are built. In modern statistics processes, SBRs serve as a cost-effective sample frame that greatly reduces the response burden with the use of available administrative sources and the tools provided by information and communication technology.
The activities of the workshop covered a number of topics such as the review of concepts and methods related to business registers, and the analysis and presentations of international guidelines. In particular, the workshop provided thorough presentations on the recently-published guidelines on statistical business register by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE) tackling all topics with technical presentations on the roles of the registers, their coverage, the statistical units, data sources, maintenance and updating, survey frame methodology and the quality framework.
Presentations of four case studies then complemented the technical discussions, namely the cases of Tunisia and Palestine from the region, and Malaysia and France from beyond the region. As an important component of the workshop, they provided a platform to exchange experiences between member states, especially with those that presented the case studies and the participants from countries that have not yet established such systems for registers.
Finally, the workshop included round table discussions between various participants on issues related to improving the national accounts and the integrated economic statistics using business registers. On the sidelines of the regional workshop, the participating team and experts conducted a back-to-back technical assistance mission to the Department of Statistics to assess the status que of the SBR in Jordan and to assist in problems mitigation.
Seventeen participants from national statistics offices from nine Arab countries attended the workshop, in addition to participation from Jordan Ministry of Industry and Trade and the Jordanian Chambers of Industry and Trade.
Participants agreed to a number of recommendations that may guide the processes of establishing and maintaining statistical business registers in the region. They called upon national statistical offices to lead efforts to raise awareness of the vital role of statistical registers in the development of national statistics. They also called for coordinating national efforts to take stock of the available data sources and in particular administrative records on businesses and to establish collaboration mechanisms with the host administrations in order to exchange data and maintain comprehensive registers at statistical offices.
Moreover, participants called also on countries to take steps to modernize national legislations to allow for the establishment of statistical registers and granting access to statistical offices to data and administrative records at other departments, and highlighted the importance of exchanging experiences with each other.
The workshop was facilitated and organized by the Economic Statistics Section at the Statistics Division besides ESCWA regional advisor for national accounts.
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