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18 Apr 2019

Technical aid from EU to help harmonize Belarusian statistics with international standards

MINSK, 18 April (BelTA) – Belarusian statistics bodies are distinguished by their readiness to accept and embrace world experience as well as their openness to cooperation. Participation in the Statistics Through Eastern Partnership (STEP) program confirms its, BelTA learned from the STEP expert team leader Jean Paul Blandinieres.

Jean Paul Blandinieres said: “The first thing that impressed us right away was the high professional skills of Belarusian statisticians. It is also very good that stable and centralized financing and state support are available. There are countries where statistics is a private business, which sometimes presents an opportunity to promote someone’s opinions and interests.”

The statistics expert believes that Belarus will make good use of international experience for improving the mechanisms used to collect and process data about economy, agriculture, social sphere, and for improving interaction with mass media. “We can also offer tools for educating statisticians and future coaches, who will pass on their experience. We will also help train reporters how to properly use infographics and create their own materials,” Jean Paul Blandinieres added.

The STEP mission is expected to finish their four-day visit to Minsk today. During the first visit to the country they presented up-to-date information about the STEP program before Belarusian colleagues and discussed the provision of technical aid to the Belarusian national statistics system. Representatives of the central bank, the Finance Ministry, and other government agencies authorized to keep state statistics records also took part in the consultations.

The STEP project is expected to help a total of six Eastern Partnership Initiative countries – Belarus, Armenia, Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Moldova, and Georgia. In line with the program the countries are supposed to improve their national statistics systems, harmonize them inside the Eastern Partnership Initiative and harmonize them with European and international standards. The project began in January 2019 to last for 34 months. It is financed by the European Union and is being introduced under the aegis of Eurostat and the international technical expertise agency Expertise France in association with a consortium of national statistics institutes from a number of countries.

Jean Paul Blandinieres explained that the harmonization of national statistics systems opens up great opportunities for comparing and evaluating one country’s accomplishments against others’. Harmonization is mandatory for Moldova, Ukraine, and Georgia due to the agreements they have signed with the European Union. It is not mandatory for other beneficiaries of the project, including Belarus. “But we offer technical and financial support for this work. Besides, we offer an opportunity to harmonize national standards by nearly 80-90% with international ones,” the STEP expert team leader stressed.

Priority areas of the Statistics Through Eastern Partnership (STEP) program include macroeconomic statistics, indicators of the Sustainable Development Goals, gender and social statistics, statistics of enterprises, agriculture, energy and transport. During the initial stage (six months) in each country areas of work will be identified and integrated into common themes for all of them. Because countries in the region often encounter similar problems. The first look confirmed it: the experts have already been to four countries and have yet to visit only Azerbaijan and Georgia. The implementation of technical aid measures as part of the program is supposed to begin in October 2019.

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