Mr Tao Zhang, the Deputy Managing Director, International Monetary Fund (IMF) says challenges posed by COVID-19 pandemic and changes it has brought on the world will bring about new statistical demands.
He said this at the virtual 18th IMF Statistical Forum with the theme entitled: “Measuring the Economics of a Pandemic”.
Zhang said that the pandemic had affected the capacity of policymakers, economists and statisticians to measure impact draw inferences to inform public policy and what could be done to overcome these challenges.
According to him, the challenge is not just to figure out how statisticians can continue doing the same old job but to recognise that the post-pandemic economy may look very different.
”With more people working from home, new consumer spending patterns, production disruptions affecting global supply chains, new jobs and skills and income inequality.
“Statisticians will be called to provide measurable and comparable indicators of all of these trends, and to do so rapidly,” he said.
Zhang said that during the pandemic, statistical agencies just like private-sector businesses have had to adapt and operate differently.
He said that long standing data sources and surveys were replaced or revamped, while traditional approaches to data collection, compilation and dissemination were adjusted.
“In this context, key economic statistics, particularly those based heavily on surveys may no longer tell us what we need to know with the same level of accuracy and all users of official data need to keep this in mind,” he said.
Zhang however said that the forum was meant to advance participants’ understanding of the new normal for statistical agencies.
He said that among the questions to be considered were whether the pandemic created new data needs, how were statistical agencies exploring and using new data sources and to what extent were existing statistical systems resistant to shocks?
It would also address how the pandemic could lead to expanding the scope of existing indicators and methods to better support decision making.
He however said that responding to the questions was particularly difficult because the world was still in the middle of the pandemic and the statistical capacity of many countries and institutions was limited.
Zhang assured that the topics were highly relevant for researchers, businesses and policymakers as new methods and practices to compile and communicate statistics that would help meet the data needs of the post-pandemic era would be discussed.
It was reported that the three-day forum will end on Nov. 19.