Expansion of Statistical Activities

With self-government and particularly after independence in 1965, the scope of statistical activities broadened in response to the increased demand for statistics. As the economy expanded and diversified to include manufacturing, commerce and services, a wider range of statistics was collected and used for charting and monitoring the implementation of economic strategies and development plans.

As the national statistical office, DOS initiated a number of large-scale statistical enquiries. In addition to annual censuses of industrial production since 1960, DOS initiated quarterly surveys of industrial production in 1966. DOS conducted the first survey on the services sector in 1968 and the first survey on wholesale and retail trades in 1969.

Review of the Singapore Statistical System

The rapid expansion in DOS’ activities and responsibilities necessitated a review of the statistical system. In May 1968, the Republic's President appointed a Commission of Inquiry on Statistical Activities to review the government statistical system and make recommendations for its improvement.

In its report published in July 1969, the Commission recommended "the development of a decentralised statistical system under which the present Department of Statistics will be expanded, and a research and statistics section set up in each of the four Ministries of Labour, National Development, Education and Health which have statistical activities that are sufficiently complex, plentiful, specialised, and nationally important as to warrant the establishment of a separate statistical system within each of them".

The report considered the development of a sound statistical system an important infrastructural prerequisite for Singapore's economic and social development.

Key Statistical Developments in the 1960s

Year Activity
  • Projects were initiated to compile Public Sector Accounts and the Consumer Price Index.
  • Official statistics were compiled for Balance of Payments (BOP) estimates and Government Revenue and Expenditure statistics.
  • A project was initiated to compile Gross Domestic Expenditure (GDE) for selected components, namely, consumption expenditure and gross domestic capital formation.
  • The Consumer Price Index was first compiled.
  • The "Monthly Digest of Statistics" was first released.
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) estimates by industry and according to output approach for 1960 to 1965, were compiled.
  • The "Yearbook of Statistics" was first released
  • The Survey of Services was launched.
  • The Survey of Commerce was launched.

Image Courtesy of the Family of Kouo Shang Wei and National Library Board Singapore