Stats SA Council threatens to resign over lack of funding, frozen posts

The South African Statistics Council, an advisory body that endorses the releases of data by Stats SA, has threatened to resign as a measure of last resort if the national statistical agency does not receive more funding and fill frozen posts.

Stats SA provides a critical service - for instance, without them, no inflation stats would be available and no growth data.

The Money Show's Bruce Whitfield asked Professor David Everatt, the council's chairperson, about the looming crisis.

It's the end of a long period of lobbying on our part to raise awareness at government and for the government to inject some funds. We're not trying for billions we're asking for about 250 million rand and a lift on promotions and hiring. If that can be done Stats SA will be operating at full strength. Right now we are operating at a 20% vacancy rate. We did not do the poverty survey. We were told the bill was too high and government would not pay for it. If government does not fund us adequately in this imminent budget, we'll not be able to confidently put our name to statistics. If we resign, official statistics cannot be released because the council cannot endorse them.

Professor David Everatt, chairperson, SA Stats Council

A lot of people have asked why don't you fund-raise. Every time you ask somebody for money it comes with conditions. A stats agency has to be free of conditionality. Government must pay its way. This is the agency that serves the nation - 250 million is pretty small beer compared to what government is doling out at the moment.

Professor David Everatt, chairperson, SA Stats Council

We have to report to entities such as the IMF and the UN stats system. If there are no official statistics approved by the statistician general - at that point I think your rates agencies will just say Game Over.

Professor David Everatt, chairperson, SA Stats Council
Statistics South Africa. Picture: Stats SA

Listen to the full interview below.

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