Skopje, 1 June 2020 (MIA) – Monday marks the 75th anniversary of the State Statistical Office. On this occasion, MIA spoke to Apostol Simovski, Head of the State Statistical Office, about Macedonian statistical processes, the challenges it faced over the years and the new approaches applied in collecting, processing and disseminating statistical data.
June 1 is observed as the Macedonian Statistics Day. How far has the State Statistical Office come in the past 75 years?
The State Statistical Office on June 1 marks a milestone – 75 years since its establishment.
In 1945, the government of the People’s Republic of Macedonia had formed the Macedonian Federal Statistical Office. It was the first time in the history of Macedonia as a state to get a body tasked with monitoring and showcasing the development of the country through statistics.
The achievements in the past 75 years have been impressive. Humble beginnings in post-war Macedonia had laid the foundations for continual growth and development of the Macedonian official statistical processes through great many organizational and structural changes, increasing powers, meeting the new needs of the society – simply put, growing up together with the state.
Nowadays, the State Statistical Office is a modern, professional and independent institution focused on producing timely, credible and fact-checked statistical data that suit the needs of all our beneficiaries.
How are you tackling the current coronavirus challenge?
Our mission, and our commitment too, is to build capacities – both human capacities and technologies – that can address all kinds of challenges in our everyday activities. We’re tackling one of these challenges now – COVID-19. It’s an invisible enemy that has changed our way of living and working.
This latest challenge has made us rethink and concentrate our efforts on finding new solutions, new methods and new procedures helping us perform our everyday duties. Understandably, the actions we’ve taken to increase our efficiency in changed circumstances are fully in accordance with the recommendations and guidelines of the competent authorities in the country.
Despite all the unfortunate circumstances involving the new virus, all but one planned statistical research are ongoing, without any delay. We’ve only been unable to conduct one segment of household consumption survey, because we’ve cancelled visiting households.
Have you thought about new approaches in collecting, processing and disseminating statistical data?
Being the coordinators of the national statistical system, alongside all other authorized heads of statistical researches, we are making efforts to abide by and apply international standards and recommendations in relation to statistics, which makes us being part of the European and global statistical family.
Facing new challenges, we are continuing to find the most appropriate technical and technological solutions helping us collect more data, process them faster and make them quickly accessible to a wide range of beneficiaries of the official statistical data.
Seeking alternative source of data by increasingly using administrative sources has made us more committed to building strategic partnerships and inter-institutional cooperation with all stakeholders in the society, especially those having registries and data collections.
What are the institution’s priorities in the coming period?
The top priority of our institution is to raise the awareness of the importance and significance of official statistics in every pore of the society and to create a sustainable strategy for growth and development of the national statistical system.
A major task is ahead – to conduct a census of the population, households and apartments, which should provide us with a realistic picture about the state of affairs in the country. By carrying out a successful census, we will fix a major mistake – the botched 2011 census.
Also, the country should start negotiations for accession into the EU. In this process, the State Statistical Office and the entire national statistical system play a huge role by providing data to establish negotiating positions. It also plays an important role in all chapters of the negotiations.
One question is inevitable – what about the census?
Preparations for the census of the population, households and apartments are underway. Most of them have been already completed and the rest should be wrapped up by the end of 2020 and the beginning of next year, including testing, selection and training of staff.
People are usually asking me when the census will take place. It largely depends on the adoption of a law on census, which is passed by Parliament.
How far are we from electronic elections and electronic census?
On electronic elections, I have no answer because it is not in the domain of the State Statistical Office.
As regards electronic census – we call it registry-based census. It’s the reality after the next census, which will include a combined method – collecting data on the ground and data from registries.
For a census to be fully conducted according to registries, we need to have an address registry and hopefully we will have one in the next few years. With a good registry of addresses, a census can be completed only on the basis of registries.
At this point, the country needs this combined method to count the population in order to cover all census units in the country and to secure realistic numbers about the people who have left the country, in fact to get the real picture about emigration.