China steps up rules against falsifying economic data

BEIJING (Reuters) - China released rules on Monday aimed at preventing local governments from falsifying economic data, as the central government steps up its campaign for more reliable statistics.

Amid a protracted slowdown in the world’s second-largest economy, several regional and provincial governments including Liaoning, Jilin and Inner Mongolia have been caught inflating their statistics.

Any organisation caught falsifying data will be punished according to the new rules and China’s statistics law, according to the rules published on the website of China’s cabinet, known as the State Council.

Local governments will be barred from interfering in statistical investigations and information collection by statisticians, according to the rules.

“Before statistics are made public, no organisation or individual should violate national laws and provide the data publicly, ahead of time,” the regulations said.

No organisation or individual “should use not yet public statistics to obtain improper benefits.”

Any organisation or individual that continues to engage in statistical inquiries after being told to change or stop their activities and illegally earns 500,000 yuan (57,326.53 pounds) or more will be penalised between double and four-times what they originally earned through their illegal activities, the statement said.

For illegal activities that result in less than 500,000 yuan in earnings, the relevant organisation or individual will be penalised 200,000 yuan or less.

The discrepancy between provincial GDP and the national figure was 2.76 trillion yuan last year, roughly equal to the GDP of Thailand, according to a Reuters calculation.

The regulations, which have been approved by the cabinet, will take effect on Aug. 1.

Reporting by Sue-Lin Wong