[Opinion] Save Stats SA

David Ansara | 07 Aug, 2020
The slow crippling of Stats SA through budget cuts and understaffing constitutes more than a threat to one institution. It stands to pull the rug out from under SA’s ability to formulate effective policy

SA is committed (theoretically) to "evidence-based policy". Though this is a commitment that is, admittedly, frequently ignored, it is accepted that problems must be understood and solutions based on a sober analysis of facts as they exist. No institution in the state is more important for this than Stats SA.

The probable cancellation of the organisation’s "Income & Expenditure Survey" is a blow to understanding the nature of our society. It remains to be seen how the 2021 census will fare.

Absent a flow of reliable evidence, policymaking will increasingly be dictated by ideology, special interest contestation and political sentiment. This is all too often the case now, and a weakened Stats SA will likely remove all possibility of getting things back on track.

Stats SA has not reached its crisis point as a result of "capture" or mismanagement. Its functioning has been clean and efficient, its work professional and respected.

Much has been made of the need to "invest" in the future, to build "capacity" and to make "difficult" decisions. Stats SA has proved its worth over decades. The choice should not be difficult: Stats SA should be provided with the relatively modest resources it needs to make its essential contribution to SA’s future.

David Ansara
COO, Centre for Risk Analysis

Original article here.

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