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Joint workshop of the World Bank and Agency on Statistics under the President of Tajikistan "Consultation and dissemination of the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics (NSDS), 2012-2016"

“Kohi Borbad” conference room, Dushanbe, October 14, 2011

The objectives of the workshop were: to review the NSDS with all the involved stakeholders through a national consultation and dissemination workshop to solicit feedback on the soundness and comprehensiveness of the NSDS"

Participants comprised representatives of: The Government of Tajikistan, Statistical Agency and regional offices, other ministries and agencies, the mass media, and international development partners.

Opening session
The workshop was opened by Mr Buriev, Senior Economic Adviser to the President. He noted the improvements that have been made in the availability, methodology, reliability and accuracy of official statistics in Tajikistan through implementing the first multi-year integrated statistics program for 2005-2009 (MISP) under the leadership of the Government and with the support of development partners. He welcomed participants and invited their comments and active participation to finalize the National Strategy for the Development of Statistics.

Mrs Mukhammadieva, Director of the Statistical Agency, added her welcome to participants. She noted the importance of statistics for policies and decision-making, and reforms that were set out in the Law on State Statistics to make the National Statistical System (NSS) more effective, efficient and responsive to needs of users. She noted that the NSDS builds from the successful implementation of the MISP. The draft NSDS assesses the current status of the NSS and sets out a vision and strategies that are realistic and flexible enough to cope with changes in priorities and data needs, and a framework and action plan for producing statistics and for building statistical capacity. The NSDS addresses institutional and organisational constraints, including resource needs, for the sustainable development of statistical systems and standards. The planned outcome is a vibrant and well-coordinated statistical system, centred on the Statistical Agency and fourteen line ministries and agencies delivering effective activities and results to users, according to agreed priorities.
Mrs Mukhammadieva observed that one of the major challenges facing the implementation of the NSDS is funding. While the Government is committed to supporting the development of statistics, support will continue to be needed from development partners. But this investment in statistics will pay for itself many times over in terms of well-informed policies and decisions.

Mr Dinc, representing the World Bank, noted the great achievements since 2005 but observed that there was still a long way to go – a statistical system cannot be fully developed within five years. He said that the Tajikistan NSDS is among the best practice examples both in terms of the process, led by the Statistical Agency and including 14 line ministries and agencies, and comprehensiveness of the content. He also noted the importance of funding for effective implementation, both from the Government, and from development partners. He identified two potential external funding sources that should be pursued - a new Russian Trust Fund for CIS countries and an IDA grant through the World Bank. These could be combined with support from other development partners. He suggested a separate meeting should be held with development partners to discuss funding issues.

Mr Dinc stressed the cross-cutting nature of statistics and the need for all producers and users of statistics to work together to achieve the common goals.

Ms Irina Zbarskaya, representing the CIS Statistics Committee, conveyed the moral support of Mr Sokolin, the Chairman, for Tajikistan to achieve the challenging and important aims of the NSDS. She noted the past achievements in providing statistics for users and society in general, including the Statistical Agency’s new and user-friendly website and the 2010 population and housing census. She informed participants about new grants received by the CIS Statistics Committee from the World Bank’s Trust Fund for Statistical Capacity Building (TFSCB) covering staff capacity building and regional labour migration.

Session 1: Review of the main components of the NSDS for 2012-2016

Mr Norov, Deputy Director in the Statistical Agency, presented an overview of the NSDS. A copy of his presentation is attached. Some key points were that the coverage of the NSDS has been extended to the entire NSS, including 14 other producers of statistics in addition to the Statistical Agency. He noted that two user satisfaction surveys were carried out in 2009 and 2011 respectively. All comments recorded in the 2009 survey were acted upon and none of those comments were repeated by respondents to the 2011 survey, which is a good indication that the Statistical Agency listens to its users. But, he observed, there is still a lot to be done, including achieving the Special Data Dissemination Standard and monitoring the Tajikistan Government’s policy documents. He reiterated the importance of funding in order to implement the NSDS.

Mr Buriev noted that, once it is finalized, the NSDS will be a strategy of the Tajikistan Government. In discussion, it was agreed that the focus will be on delivering statistics to the end users. It was observed that the benefits accruing to line ministries and agencies far outweigh the funding channelled directly to them because they will benefit from the NSDS as a whole, including for instance the Local Area Network that will link rayons to oblasts, which should be included in the budget table for ministries, agencies and local government.

Session 2: Detailed review of the NSDS for 2012-2016

 Mrs Gukasova, head of the department of consolidated economic analysis and international relations, gave a more detailed presentation on the NSDS. She noted the greater attention paid to relations with line ministries, who are both producers and users of statistics, and advised that the NSDS was built upon the platform of the successful implementation of the MISP, 2005-2009. She noted the cost-effectiveness and benefits from an improved statistical system and that investing in statistics will pay for itself many times over in terms of well-informed policies and better decision-making.
In discussion, it was confirmed that attention will be paid to strengthening the technical facilities of line ministries.

Mr Najmiddinod, the representative from the Ministry of Finance, said that his ministry has provided written comments about the NSDS. He noted that the NSDS covers the statistical needs of all of the development goals of Tajikistan that are set out in the National Development Strategy, Poverty Reduction Strategy and Millennium Development Goals. He agreed that implementation will be difficult without adequate funding and that the Ministry of Finance is ready to cooperate to ensure the successful development of statistics.

Ms Febres, the World Bank task team leader for statistical support to Tajikistan, advised that during her stay in Tajikistan she will carry out a detailed Implementation Completion Report of the TAJSTAT project that supported implementation of the MISP. Her findings so far are very positive compared with other projects. She advised that a constant dialogue will be needed with users of statistics, as will monitoring and evaluation against agreed performance indicators.

Mr Shekaliev, the representative from the Republican Center of Medical Statistics and Information, noted the close cooperation with the Statistical Agency and advised that the Ministry of Health has already started implementation of its strategy to improve health information systems through an EU project. More funding is needed for the training of specialists. In response Mr Norov and Ms Gukasova noted that this information had been taken into account when designing the NSDS and Mr Dinc observed that the goal to improve the NSS is flexible and can take account of new requirements during implementation.

Mr Aliev, the representative from the Customs Service, observed the close cooperation with the Statistical Agency and requested some changes to the action plan in relation to foreign trade statistics, which will be incorporated. The emphasis should be on the training of staff.

Mrs Mukhammadieva thanked participants for their interventions and asked all line ministries to confirm their comments and provide any other suggestion in writing to the Statistical Agency soon because finalizing the NSDS is urgent. If needed, more detailed discussions will be held in bilateral meetings with individual ministries.

Summary and conclusions
Mr Williams, the World Bank consultant, was asked to summarise the discussion. First he observed that the Director and staff of the Statistical Agency and the line ministries had shown great commitment and efficiency in order to complete this work within just a few months. He underlined the implicit user focus in the NSDS, noting that everything that the Statistical Agency and other producers of statistics do is done to satisfy the requirements of end users. Improving dissemination and relations with users are top priority activities, although the costs of doing so are relatively modest. He also summarised the points made in session 2, which are reported above.

Mr Buriev said that the discussion has shown where we are and what needs to be done to ensure that statistics are provided to users. The NSDS needs to be implemented to achieve its goals and all available resources (both national and external) need to be mobilised. A separate meeting should be held with development partners to discuss these issues. He also noted the importance of monitoring and evaluation. Mr Buriev extended his thanks to all participants.

Mrs Mukhammadieva observed that the process of developing the NSDS started only half a year ago and the great progress made since then. She welcomed Mr Dinc’s commitment to work to help Tajikistan to secure resources for implementation in order that good quality statistics that comply with international standards can be provided to users.

Statistical Agency under the President of the Republic of Tajikistan
October 14, 2011