(Item 5 of the Agenda)
44. The Commission was advised through the document APCAS/04/05, "Country Questionnaire on Current Status of Agricultural Statistics System", of the completion of seventeen country questionnaires containing a review of the present state of food and agricultural statistics in Australia, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Iran, Japan, Lao PDR, Malaysia, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand, USA and Viet Nam.
45. The Commission was informed that the member countries defined the term "food and agricultural statistics" in a broad sense, with some countries including statistics for rural development and rural income, while other countries, like India, did not consider rural development and rural income under this category.
46. On the issue of a legal framework for collection of statistical data, the Commission learned that some countries such as Bhutan and Cambodia had no legal backing in support of collection of statistical data and agreed that it was imperative to have such legal backing to facilitate the collection of primary data, especially now that the opportunity cost of respondents had increased. The Commission was also informed that Bhutan had not undertaken any population census and that Cambodia had not done any agriculture census while Malaysia planned to undertake the census in 2005; and that economic accounts had been compiled only by Bangladesh, Iran, Japan, Philippines, Republic of Korea, Sri Lanka, Thailand and the United States of America.
47. The Commission was informed that the responsibility for compiling the national account statistics had been entrusted by all countries except Japan and the Republic of Korea to their respective Department/Ministry/Institution relating to statistical functions while Japan and the Republic of Korea had entrusted this job to the Cabinet Office and Bank of Korea, respectively.
48. The Commission noted that some countries had not been collecting statistics on agriculture trade and that non-collection of statistics for this important area entailed its own opportunity cost.
49. Over half of the countries reported the use of administrative records in deriving agricultural statistics, although some members of the Commission considered "producer prices for crop products" and "livestock slaughterings" as identified statistics and not administrative records.
50. It was reported to the Commission that the expenditure per staff varied from country to country with the lowest at US$ 79 per staff in Sri Lanka and the highest at US$ 56 522 per staff in Australia. The Commission realized that though the data did not indicate the reference period, the wide variation in values suggested a difference in concepts and definitions of "Staff" and "Annual Budget".
51. The Commission recognized that some concepts in the APCAS questionnaire could be interpreted differently and recommended that a term like "a statistical system decentralized by subject with a coordinating authority" should be explained with examples to enable the member countries to respond consistently to the questionnaire.
52. The Commission noted that only Australia had responded on the "Remarks, Issues and Concerns", that other member countries might not have had time to raise issues and concerns and that leaving one or more items "blank" in the questionnaire should not be interpreted as "No".
53. The Commission agreed that the use of FAO questionnaires had been effective in providing information on the different activities undertaken by the member countries, but that the questionnaire should be revised with examples in order to improve the consistency and completeness of the responses.