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China to collect more accurate investment data

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BEIJING, June 3 (Xinhua) -- China will start a pilot reform of data collection relating to fixed asset investment in 2013, so as to make local economic statistics more reliable, the China Business News reported Monday.

The first pilots will be conducted in Jincheng of Shanxi Province, Xi'an of Shaanxi Province, Wuxi of Jiangsu Province and Qiandongnan of Guizhou Province, said Ma Jiantang, director of the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), without specifying when they will begin.

The NBS plans to better monitor the data source to reveal trustworthy figures that can not be manipulated by local governments.

Statistics showed that the average annual growth rate of fixed asset investment stood at 21.7 percent from 2003 to 2011, 11 percentage points higher than that of gross domestic product (GDP).

In 2011, the country's fixed asset investment totaled 31 trillion yuan (5.02 trillion U.S. dollars), hitting 65.9 percent of GDP, according to the NBS.

Shen Minggao, Citibank's chief economist for Greater China, queried whether the surging fixed asset investment figures were overstated based on the low investment efficiency.

The data's credibility is also doubtable because of the notable gap between the quantity of construction work in fixed asset investment and the gross product of the country's construction industry.

In 2011, the work quantity was valued at 19.36 trillion yuan while the construction industry realized an output of just 11.71 trillion yuan, the NBS said.

The problem remained unsolved in 2012, and even in the provinces of Guizhou, Gansu and Qinghai, fixed asset investment exceeded GDP.

The pilot reform will expand the target of surveys from the projects themselves to the enterprises involved, and refocus the calculation on fiscal expenditure rather than visual progress, Ma said.

The old-fashioned and complicated statistical indicators and insufficient grass-roots staff also need immediate improvement, he added.

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