Director's Update Corner

Director's Update #2

A warm Pacific greeting to you all and I trust this communication finds you well.
This communication is to give an update on some of the follow-up actions taken by SPC-Statistics for Development Division (SDD) on key decisions made during the 5th Conference of Heads of Planning and Statistics (HOPS) in November 2017.

The 2017 HOPS Meeting approved a revised governance structure for Pacific statistics with the following five primary components:
     i)  a Ministerial meeting.
    ii)  the Heads of Planning and Statistics (HOPS) meeting.
   iii)  the Pacific Statistics Standing Committee (PSSC).
   iv)  the Donors and Development Partners Group (DDPG).
    v)  the Pacific Statistics Methods Board (PSMB).

a. Approval for HOPS to report to the Finance and Economic Ministers Meeting (FEMM) as its ministerial meeting during the 2018 FEMM in Palau

Following consideration of a paper submitted by SPC-SDD, the 2018 FEMM approved that Pacific statistics development become a formal, annual standing agenda item to be discussed during FEMM’s annual meeting.

b. Interim acting chairperson for Heads of Planning and Statistics (HOPS)

During the 2017 HOPS Meeting, the Government Statistician of Nauru, Mr. Ipia Gadabu, was elected as chair of HOPS for the next three years when HOPS would meet next. Unfortunately, Mr. Gadabu is no longer available to take up this role. Upon the suggestion of SPC to PSSC, one of the deputy chairpersons, Ms. Taggy Tangimetua, has kindly agreed to act in the role of chairperson for HOPS until PSSC meets in October and will review this situation. We look forward for your support to Ms. Tangimetua as she takes up this very important role.

c. Pacific Statistics Standing Committee (PSSC)

The Pacific Statistics Standing Committee (PSSC) will have its next meeting on 1st and 2nd November, 2018 in Nadi, Fiji. During this meeting, the Committee will finalise the revised draft PSSC’s Term of References (ToRs) endorsed during the 2017 HOPS Meeting. Once finalised this will be shared with all of you. A separate meeting invite and relevant papers will be send to members in the next few weeks.

d. Pacific Statistics Methods Board (PSMB) Inaugural Meeting on 3rd and 4th April, 2018 at Statistics NZ, Auckland

A new and very important component of the revised statistics governance structure, approved during 2017 HOPS Meeting was the creation, under the auspices of SPC-SDD, of a Pacific Statistics Methods Board (PSMB). The PSMB was established as a technical body with the role of making decisions on standardizing statistics methods (collections and analyses), systems, classifications and processes and other statistics related issues with the aim of fostering greater harmonisation across the region and generating efficiencies for NSOs and agencies delivering support. All decisions made by the PSMB will be reported to PSSC and HOPS for their information. Where deemed necessary and appropriate the Board has the authority to escalate issues that are significant and where it cannot make a decision itself, for further deliberations and decision by either PSSC or HOPS. The first meeting of the PSMB was held in Auckland in April 2018. One of the main outcomes from this meeting was the finalisation of the Board’s TORs. The second meeting of the Board for 2018 will be held on 30th and 31st October, 2018 in Nadi. A separate meeting invite and relevant papers will be circulated soon.

PSMB group May 2018

Picture: members of the Pacific Statistics Methods Board (PSMB)
Left-right front row: Vince Galvin (Chairperson); Carl Dominguez; Bruce Fraser; Epeli Waqavonovono (Deputy Chairperson); Ofa Ketuu (Secretary); Left-right back row: Kimray Vaha; Viliami Fifita; David Gordon (non-member); Imogen Cara Halstead; Michael Sharp (SDD staff); Stanley Gwavuya; Angela Templeton (Rapporteur)

e. Donor and Development Partners Group (DDPG)

A final component of the revised statistics governance structure in the region, approved during 2017 HOPS Conference, was the establishment of a Donor and Development Partners Group (DDPG). This Group will meet once a year with the primary aim of sharing information and identifying areas for collaboration and will be coordinated by SPC-SDD. The first meeting of the DDPG will be on 31st August, 2018 in Brisbane after the ABS-Pacific Statistics Leadership Meeting.

f. Regional Statistics Partnership Program (RSPP) and 5-Year Collection Plan

As you may recall the Regional Statistics Partnership Program together with the 5-Year National Collection Plan (Schedule) was endorsed during 2017 HOPS Meeting. This document outlined how development partners would aim to coordinate their technical support to member countries.  This would assist in providing Pacific member countries and NSOs with a greater degree of transparency and understanding of what to expect from development partners and donors. SDD was made responsible for updating the RSPP and the 5-Year Collection Plan. This document is currently being reviewed and will be uploaded to SDD’s website and shared with all members once its ready.

Statistics NZ, ABS, World Bank, PFTAC, UNICEF, UNFPA, UNESCAP, UNDP, FAO, ILO, PIFS, USP and other CROPS agencies are among partners providing technical support toward Pacific regional statistics development. Also among our key donors are DFAT, MFAT, World Bank and some of the UN agencies operating in the Pacific region. It is estimated that over the next 5 years a total of 35 censuses and surveys will be conducted among the 22 Pacific member countries. Through this partnership, development and donor agencies are working closely with member countries’ NSO to coordinate and mobilise financial resources to fund these national statistics collections. This month, for example, Wallis and Futuna NSO is conducting its 2018 Population and Household Census.

g.  SDD Business Plan 2018-2020

This year is a very busy year for SDD implementing its new business plan, with shifted focus toward data analysis and dissemination while leading census and surveys through partnership with other development partners; such as World Bank in HIES, UNFPA in Population Census, UNICEF in Multiple Indicators Cluster Survey (MICS) and DHS, FAO in Agriculture Census, ILO in Household Labour Force Survey; and Statistics NZ, ABS and PFTAC in economic statistics.
Link to SDD Business Plan:

SDD is committed to coordinating and raising visibility of the various activities that development partners and donors are providing to help member countries produce timely and quality Pacific statistics and data that are needed by national officials to make well informed decisions, as well as regional and international users of Pacific statistics such as university students, researches, academics, consultants, development and donor partners, private sectors, community groups and media. In addition, there are increasing amount of data required for various member countries’ reporting obligations such as those under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This year, we have reached out to Pacific post-graduate students at universities in New Zealand, Fiji and Australia to inform them on where to find Pacific statistics and data. This outreach program is well received and we are committed to doing more in future years. Here in SDD we try and engage with users of Pacific data and statistics using every avenue that is available, such as face-to-face communication, Live Chat, web-based data dissemination and social media. This week, Tuvalu NSO and SDD organised a national workshop where the Government Statistician of Tuvalu, Ms. Grace Alapati, presented to Tuvalu Government officials the results from the 2015/16 Household Income and Expenditure Survey (HIES).  SDD and development partners continue to use every avenue available to help member countries disseminate Pacific statistics and data in a secured, friendly, easy and timely manner. Please visit SPC’s Twitter to see some of the cool stories and activities that are happening around member countries with regards to statistics development.

h. World Bank and SDD joint project to improve user-access to Pacific microdata and test HIES methods in RMI

World Bank and SDD are jointly implementing the microdata access project as part of the drive for better documentation, archive, access and use of Pacific statistics and data, especially microdata. A small team is already set-up in SDD to lead this work and will work with member countries to improve timely access to Pacific microdata to be guided by a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU). World Bank and SDD are also jointly testing the use of recall and CAPI in the implementation of HIES in the Republic of Marshall Island. This experiment is expected to be completed by end of 2018 and the results will be reported to the Methods Board Meeting in April 2019.

i. National Statistics Development Strategy (NSDS)

SDD is currently working with four member countries’ NSOs to complete their Strategy – Tonga, Fiji, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM) and Tokelau. PARIS21 provides remote support to this work.

j. Recent publications

SDD has collaborated with the Oceanic Customs Organisation (OCO) in the production of the Pacific Harmonized Commodity Description and Coding System 2017 (PACHS17). This multipurpose goods nomenclature forms the basis for Pacific Customs Tariffs and International Merchandise Trade Statistics. PACHS17 enables all SPC and OCO member countries that are at different levels of implementing WCOs HS17 to adopt a common benchmark that will better reflect goods exported and imported by PICTs using a standardized system of names and codes.

The 2018 Pocket Statistical Summary is now available at and the available data for all the SDGs of the Pacific Roadmap for Sustainable Development can be found at
SDD’s website is currently being revamped as part of strengthening its data dissemination work. Part of this work will include improving the way the SDG indicators data are being displayed and accessed. Watch this space! 

k. Important statistical meetings in the second half of 2018

There are a number of regional meetings and workshops hosted by SDD and other regional/international statistical meetings that are scheduled for the second half of 2018. It is important that we are aware of these upcoming events for planning purpose.

Finally, I wish to acknowledge here the great contribution that the former chair of HOPS and PSSC, Mr. Simil Johnson, has made to regional statistics development during his chairmanship. This month, Simil decided to take early retirement and possibly move on to greener pastures after many years of being a true Pacific statistician and leader. That is, he speaks with great confidence and authority when it comes to Pacific statistics for development. We will miss you Simil.

Malo aupito

Dr 'Ofa Ketu'u
Director, Statistics for Development Division