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Statistical Returns

This section provides information regarding the obligation of the business community to provide VIES and Intrastat statistical returns.



The Central Statistics Office (CSO)

An introduction to the Central Statistics Office is contained in this document.

The CSO collects, compiles, analyses and disseminates statistical information relating to the economic and social life of Ireland to meet national (i.e. Government, business, researchers, general public, etc.), EU and other international requirements.

The bulk of the statistics produced are now mandatory under EU Statistical legislation. Most of the information required for this purpose is collected directly by the CSO from households and businesses. The information is generally collected on a sample basis to minimise the statistical reporting burden on the community. The samples used for this purpose must be representative and a high response is necessary to ensure that the derived results are accurate and reliable.

Statistical Inquiries

Statistical Requirements

The CSO compiles a wide range of statistics to meet national (i.e. Government, business, researchers, general public, etc.), EU and other international requirements.

The bulk of the statistics produced are now mandatory under EU Statistical legislation. Most of the information required for this purpose is collected directly by the CSO from households and businesses. The information is generally collected on a sample basis to minimise the statistical reporting burden on the community. The samples used for this purpose must be representative and a high response is necessary to ensure that the derived results are accurate and reliable.

Legal Basis for Statistical Inquiries

The Statistics Act, 1993 provides the legal basis for all statistical inquiries, both statutory (i.e. obligatory) and voluntary, undertaken by the CSO.

The Act provides a statutory guarantee that identifiable information collected in the course of CSO inquiries will be treated as strictly confidential and will be used only for statistical purposes.

The CSO assigns the highest priority to ensuring that information relating to identifiable survey respondents is never revealed. Only aggregate results are published.

Household Inquiries

The five-yearly Census of Population is the only statutory household survey conducted by the CSO. The other household surveys, principally the QNHS (approximately 39,000 households each quarter), are conducted on a voluntary basis. Other than the Quarterly Travel Inquiry, conducted by post, household data is directly collected by CSO Interviewers who carry official identification.

Statutory Statistical Inquiries

Most CSO inquiries are voluntary. Although there are no legal requirements to co-operate in these inquiries, public response is generally high.

For some critical inquiries, principally in the business statistics area, the Taoiseach makes a Statutory Order under Section 25 of the Statistics Act, 1993 requiring persons or undertakings to provide particular information to the CSO. Participation is compulsory under law in these statutory inquiries.

Business Inquiries

The CSO conducts monthly, quarterly and annual surveys covering all sectors of the economy. Other than the annual Census of Industrial Production and the annual Census of Building and Construction, these business surveys are conducted on a sample basis to minimise the statistical reporting burden on the business sector. Particular efforts are made to minimise the data demands on small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). However, it is essential that SMEs are represented at an appropriate level in CSO inquiries to ensure that their major contribution to the growth of the economy is monitored and reflected in the national statistics. Newly established businesses and a rotating proportion of existing enterprises are covered in ongoing special inquiries to ensure that the basic data (e.g. name, address, legal status, number of persons engaged) held on the CSO Business Register is up-to-date so that representative samples are selected.

Business inquiries are conducted by post. The covering letter makes it clear whether or not the inquiry is statutory. It also specifies the latest date for the return of data. CSO contact points are specified for assistance if a business has difficulty in understanding the data requirements. Best estimates are accepted if exact information is not readily available.

The timeliness and accuracy of CSO business statistics depends on the promptness, level and quality of responses to its inquiries. The following is the usual procedure in cases where a business has not responded to a statistical inquiry by the specified date:

  • a written reminder is first issued;
  • this is followed up by a telephone reminder if there is still no response;
  • the business is visited by a Field Officer if there is continued non-response.

 

For statutory inquires, the CSO does everything possible to encourage businesses to respond and to facilitate them in meeting the survey requirements (e.g. acceptance of best estimates). A non-respondent is referred to the CSO Enforcement Unit only as a last resort. A warning letter is then issued to the company Secretary or proprietor advising that if a return is not received by the appointed date, the case will be forwarded to the Chief State Solicitor who may initiate legal proceedings under Section 36 of the Statistics Act, 1993.

Legal Offences

Under the Statistics Act, 1993 it is an offence for a person or undertaking to:

  • fail to provide information requested in a statutory inquiry (Section 36);
  • prevent an Officer of Statistics (i.e. a CSO staff member or field officer)carrying out her/his duties (Section 37);
  • obstruct the Director General or an Officer of Statistics in the exercise of her/his functions under the Act (Section 40);
  • wilfully destroy, damage or falsify any document or record issued for the collection of statistics for a statutory inquiry (Section 42)
  • provide information, written or oral, or deliver a document, knowing it to be false, in purported compliance with a requirement under the Act (Section 43).

Statistical Confidentiality

All information supplied to the CSO is treated as strictly confidential. The Statistics Act, 1993 sets stringent confidentiality standards: Information collected may be used only for statistical purposes, and no details that might be related to an identifiable person or business undertaking may be divulged to any other government department or body.

These national statistical confidentiality provisions are reinforced by the following EU legislation:

  • Council Regulation (EC) No 1588/90 on the transmission of data subject to confidentiality to the Statistical Office of the European Communities (EUROSTAT);
  • Council Regulation (EC) No 322/97 on Community Statistics;

for data collected for EU statistical purposes.

Further details are outlined in the CSO's Code of Practice on Statistical Confidentiality

Special Analyses

It is not always practical for the CSO to publish the full range of information and analyses available from statistical inquiries. The specialist requirements of some users may, therefore, not be met by the published releases and reports. To meet these requirements the CSO provide, on a fee basis, special series and analyses to individual users tailored to their particular needs. Arrangements also exist, whereby, the CSO will run computer programs by specialist users on its computer data files in a manner which preserve the confidentiality of the individual records. For further information contact Information Section.

Surveys and Methodology

The 'Surveys and Methodologies' section of the CSO website provides background information on the surveys which we conduct, on a survey-by-survey basis. More detailed methodology documents, on an individual survey basis, are also available in this section for most of our surveys. This is a work in progress and will be further extended on a phased basis.




For further information on this topic, please contact:

Name: CSO
Organisation: Central Statistics Office
Address: Skehard Road , Cork , Ireland
Telephone: +353 21 4535000
Fax: +353 21 4535555
Email: information@cso.ie


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