The online seminar dedicated to the “Challenges faced by the official statistics during the COVID-19 pandemic” was organized by the National Statistical Institute of the Republic of Bulgaria (NSI) in accordance with the Action Plan for 2021 of the Working Group on Exchange of Statistical Data and Economic Information (WGESDEI) at the Organization of the Black Sea Economic Cooperation (BSEC).
As the Country-coordinator of the WGESDEI for 2021, the Republic of Bulgaria was able to revitalize the work of the group by adopting an ambitious action plan that should enhance the cooperation in the statistical field between all BSEC Member States and in turn strengthen the institutional capacity of the BSEC Organization as a whole.
In the event, experts participated from the Republic of Albania, Republic of Armenia, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Bulgaria, Georgia, Republic of Moldova, Republic of North Macedonia, Romania, Republic of Serbia, Republic of Turkey and Ukraine. Lectures were held by representatives of the statistical authorities in those countries as well as by representatives of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe’s Statistical Division and the WISE Centre at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
At the beginning of the seminar, participants were welcomed by His Excellency Mr Traian Chebeleu, Deputy Secretary General of the BSEC, and Mr Sergey Tsvetarsky, President of the NSI. Both of them emphasized the importance of such events in order for the Black Sea region’s statistical community to collaborate more actively and to facilitate the countries’ swift resilience after the COVID-19 pandemic.
Moderators of the two-day seminar were respectively - Mr Anastas Troyanski, Director of Business Statistics Directorate at the NSI, and Mr Valentin Chavdarov, Director of General Methodology, Analysis and Coordination of Statistical Surveys Directorate at the NSI. During the first day, participants were presented with a handful of new products and good practices applied by different statistical authorities in the context of the global pandemic. Those included OECD COVID-19 Recovery Dashboard, questionnaires dedicated to the impacts of COVID-19 on the labour market and households, etc. The day finished with an exercise that aimed at identifying the top 3 the practices that had proven to be especially valuable during the pandemic:
- New, dedicated surveys monitoring the changes in our lives because of COVID-19 (vaccination attitudes, changes in the labour market, time spent at home and outside with friends);
- New methods for acquiring data (using mobile data, satellite data, web-scraping);
- More frequent dissemination of more digitalized statistics.
The results could be easily summarized in a few words - striving to provide as much as possible timely and quality statistical data.
The second day began with a presentation by the UN representative and set the start for numerous discussions on the challenges faced by the Black Sea region’s statistical authorities during the global pandemic and the solutions applied in the process of tackling them – alternative and new data sources, innovative methods for data collection, production and dissemination, changes in the organization of work at the statistical authorities, etc.
Finally, the seminar was closed by Mr Sergey Tsvetarsky who expressed his gratitude to all lecturers and participants in the seminar pointing out the key role of such events in the process of developing a modern statistical field with well-educated professionals and highly motivated personnel.
During the upcoming year, with the help of the NSI, the Republic of Bulgaria is planning to continue providing its expertise to all countries from the Black Sea region. The appreciation of the NSI’s work done so far by all foreign partners has further motivated our country to be actively involved in the process of strengthening cooperation and improving knowledge in key areas such as the statistical one.