Pandemic highlights need for 'urgent' automation of national statistical system: NEDA

Jessica Fenol, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 01 2020 11:18 AM

Residents line up to sign forms as they inquire on the distribution of the second tranche of the Social Amelioration Program (SAP) at the Montalban Municipal Hall in Rodriguez, Rizal. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA - The Philippine statistical system should urgently pivot to full automation as the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for information to mitigate its impact and hasten recovery, Acting Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Kendrick Chua said Thursday. 

Chua said the national statistical system should take a cue from the country's services sector that uses information and communication technology to eliminate lengthy manual processes, Chua said during the virtual celebration of the 31st National Statistics Month.

"We are moving towards digital capture of data, we have started in several surveys like the labor force survey. I think we should proceed with utmost urgency and haste to complete our transition fully from manual processing and collection of data to full automation," Chua said.

"What this crisis has made apparent is the need for us to evolve and improve our systems if we hope not just to outlast but also build resilience against adversities such as the COVID-19 pandemic," he added.

Technology does not only spur economic activity but also effectively implements social development programs and delivery of social services, the official said.

Lawmakers as well as the National Economic and Development Authority have been pushing for the National ID system, which can pave the way for an efficient social aid distribution in future crisis.

The World Bank said Wednesday it was working with the Department of Social Welfare and Development to help modernize social protection delivery in the Philippines with the approval of a $600-million loan. 

Chua said the Philippines should measure hunger statistics and malnutrition among mothers and children, as well as the educational attainment in the country as policy makers rely on "timely and useful" statistics to mitigate the impact of the pandemic.

"This period of great uncertainty demands our policies to be anchored on timely, relevant and reliable statistics that are truly responsive to the needs of the government and the people," Chua said.

"This is where digitalization plays a pivotal role in data generation," he added.

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III earlier said digitalization of social services would not only hasten cash distribution but also curb corruption.