2021 Economic Census to be conducted online

The General Statistics Office of Vietnam (GSO) launched the 2021 Economic Census on Monday. Amid challenges in collecting data due to the pandemic, the authority will employ technology to conduct the census. GSO Director General Nguyen Thi Huong spoke with the Vietnam News Agency about the important survey.
GSO Director General Nguyen Thi Huong
GSO Director General Nguyen Thi Huong

The 2021 Economic Census takes place during the complex development of the COVID-19 pandemic. Will this impact the survey?

Collecting enterprises’ information has been implemented every year at different scales and levels. In the 2021 Economic Census, the survey will collect information on all kinds of businesses in all economic sectors nationwide.

This year’s census has many advantages such as the active co-ordination and participation of ministries, departments and localities at all levels and collection of information across the whole country. In addition, census propaganda has been carried out nationwide in many forms to reach all people and enterprises. It has helped improve the awareness and responsibility of enterprises in co-ordinating, providing and sharing information with the Census Steering Committee at all levels.

The 2021 enterprise survey will be implemented online, so despite the pandemic, the investigation still meets the census requirements. This is the second year the statistics industry has conducted the enterprise survey online. Therefore, we have experience in designing, processing and collecting information.

What are the challenges facing the census?

To collect information online, first of all, the information technology infrastructure system must satisfy higher standards than the traditional paper form. At the same time, the security and safety requirements need a higher level of capacity in transmission and storage and handling a large number of accounts for simultaneous access on a wide range.

However, the IT infrastructure of the statistics industry still has many limitations which sometimes lead to an overloaded or interrupted system. The sector has been working closely with the Ministry of Information and Communications and related agencies to upgrade and minimise these problems and shortcomings.

In addition, many Vietnamese enterprises are small and micro size, making them illegible to participate in online reporting on GSO’s website.

What are the differences in this year’s survey?

The information in this year's electronic format has changed significantly compared to previous years, especially identifying and collecting data of businesses at level 3 in Vietnam’s standard industrial classification at the commune level.

It means the enterprise survey 2021 will access and update the information of investigated units according to international standards. Enterprises will provide detailed information of their branches and production facilities as well as addresses, sales or quantity of major products, cost of production and quantity of labour.

By collecting information online, businesses will self-declare information on the online questionnaire. To fully collect the quantity and quality of enterprise information is a big challenge for surveyors. Thus, investigators need to know very well the information collection process, information flow and the indicators to be collected to guide and support enterprises.

Many firms are not willing to provide information and it takes a lot of time and effort to persuade them to fill in the questionnaire as well as to check, verify and assist them to complete the form.

The survey time coincides with the resurgence of COVID-19 in some localities, making it difficult to train investigators and disseminate information to businesses.

In addition, the 2021 questionnaire includes many specialised and in-depth contents, requiring investigators to have knowledge of economics, statistics, accounting and proficient use of computers. Therefore, recruiting enough quality enumerators is also a challenge.

What has the GSO done to ensure success?

First of all, it is essential to strengthen the propaganda and dissemination of information on the 2021 Economic Census to enhance businesses’ responsibility in providing information. Along with that, professional training for enumerators at all levels needs to be carefully carried out to prepare themselves with knowledge of online processing.

The General Statistics Office also asked the surveyors to regularly contact businesses to provide guidance, support and respond to their problems to avoid missing information and improve data quality.

If the business is not eligible for filling information, the investigator will collect information directly to ensure the progress of the investigation.

For businesses that do not co-operate, the investigators should immediately report to the standing committee for appropriate handling. It can work with the tax department to request enterprises to provide information or request the district’s or provincial People's Committee to send a dispatch urging the enterprise to fulfil the obligation to provide information.

To ensure safe, stable and transparent operations during the investigation, the GSO has reviewed the entire IT infrastructure system to assess the response level of the system.

The 2021 Economic Census in general and the 2021 Enterprise Census, in particular, are the hardest censuses of the statistics industry with complicated contents, units and objects of investigation. However, with the collaboration of authorities at all levels, the census will be conducted successfully.