PERMANENT secretary for development planning and administration Chola Chabala says Zambia is about to undertake a critical activity to rebase its gross domestic product (GDP), which will have far-reaching implications on socio-economic policies.

In her 2019 national budget proposal, finance minister Margaret Mwanakatwe stated that: “In 2019 government will undertake an exercise to rebase the gross domestic product, an exercise last conducted in 2012. The rebasing of the gross domestic product will provide reliable and updated information on the current size and structure of the national economy. The rebasing will also provide government with an opportunity to update and develop appropriate social and economic indicators to measure progress in achieving the objectives under the National Development Plans and the Sustainable Development Goals.”

In 2017, Zambia’s GDP was measured at about US$25 Billion.

Opening the ninth COMESA Committee on Statistical Matters in Lusaka yesterday, Chabala urged statistical bodies in the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa countries to link statistical systems with the needs of users so that they are applicable to national development planning.

“This policy and other statistical activities underscore the importance of statistics in shaping, not only our policy direction but also the development trajectory of our countries,” Chabala said according to the ministry’s spokesperson Chibaula Silwamba.

“This should give us a critical reflection of the vital role statistics play in development planning and monitoring and evaluating our development interventions.”

Chabala reminded the delegates that the 37th COMESA Council of Ministers meeting approved the 2017-2020 COMESA statistics strategy. He said the strategy aimed at providing an overarching framework of how statistical development would be undertaken in the COMESA region.

“It was heartening that at the end period review of the prior strategy by African Development Bank and Paris 21, a favourable review of the performance of your work as a committee and the work of the secretariat in the prior 2014-2017 statistics strategy was given,” Chabala said. “The approach of the 2017-2020 statistics strategy is taken based on providing a statistical response to COMESA’s Medium Term Strategic Plan (MTSP). Therefore, the challenge for your Committee and the Secretariat is really on how to draft programmes that are clearly responsive to the Medium Term Strategic Plan and ensure delivery of results within reasonable time lines.”

And COMESA secretary general Chileshe Kapwepwe said the COMESA statistical system was underpinned by the national strategies for development of statistics while synergising with the continental frameworks such as the SHASA II and at the international level the Busan Action Plan for Statistics.

“Your meeting marks the first year of implementation of the 2017-2020 statistics strategy. Accordingly, your secretariat will be reporting on progress made in the year under review,” said Kapwepwe. “We look forward to your guidance on issues related to the implementation so as to ensure that our programmes have the stamp of your ownership as member states.”

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