Implementation of a Decentralised Statistical System

The recommendation for a decentralised statistical system was implemented in 1972 with the establishment of the National Statistical Commission (NSC) under the NSC Act. Between 1972 and 1976, NSC, as the co-ordinator and overseeing authority, helped set up gazetted RSUs in the four ministries mentioned in the report of the Commission of Inquiry on Statistical Activities.

While other ministries and statutory boards also set up RSUs to collect information using administrative legislation, the directors of such RSUs were not empowered to issue requisitions for data under the Statistics Act.

During this period, there was a complementary division of work. NSC and RSUs carried out statistical projects in areas under their purviews. For example, the Ministry of Labour (now the Ministry of Manpower) took over the Labour Force Survey, from DOS and has conducted it annually since 1974.

DOS, on its part, expanded its activities to gather data on the overall economy and population. It conducted the Household Expenditure Survey in 1972/73 and started a number of new projects such as wholesale price indices in 1974 and input-output tables in 1976.

In 1976, the NSC Secretariat's functions and employees were transferred to DOS to form the Demography and Co-ordination Division. The NSC Board continued to provide overall policy directions to DOS until it was dissolved in 1983 and the NSC Act repealed on the ground that it had accomplished its mission.

Key Statistical Developments in the 1970s

Year Activity
  • Singapore’s first Census of Population after independence was conducted.
  • The Study of Financial Structure and Operation of Companies in Singapore was launched.
  • Public Sector Accounts were compiled.
  • The second Household Expenditure Survey (HES) was conducted in Singapore. This was the first time that DOS conducted the survey. The HES was first conducted by the Social Welfare Department in 1956/57.
  • The first Labour Force Survey (LFS) was launched by DOS. The LFS was taken over by the Ministry of Labour (now the Ministry of Manpower) in 1974 after the adoption of the decentralised statistical system.
  • The Consumer Price Index was first revised, based on the results of the 1972/73 Household Expenditure Survey.
  • The Wholesale Price Index was first compiled.
  • The Business Expectations Survey was launched.
  • GDP and GDE estimates at 1968 market prices were first released.
  • Compilation of Input-Output Tables was initiated.
  • The first set of Input-Output Tables for 1973 was published.

Image Courtesy of Lee Kip Lin and National Library Board Singapore