Finance Minister Edward Scicluna visited the National Statistics Office, where he announced the new board of the Malta Statistics Authority, which oversees NSO operations.

Albert Leone Ganado has been appointed chairman of the MSA, replacing Reno Camilleri, who was also present for the minister’s visit and who the minister thanked for his services.

Prof. Scicluna said he expected the new board to strengthen certain aspects of data collection, such as data related to the gross domestic product.

He likened statistics to the gauges pilots have in their cockpits.

“Statistics are the tools the government needs to have at hand before taking important decisions.”

The GDP figures were the single most important element on which the European Commission would base its assessment on whether to open an excessive deficit procedure - the deficit is expressed as a percentage of GDP.

For the next budget, the government will be asking the auditor general to verify the method used to forecast revenue and GDP projection for 2014.

EU rules say that budget forecast methods will have to be verified by a fiscal council or an independent authority.

Given that the fiscal council has not yet been set up, Prof. Scicluna said the onus for this year will fall on the National Audit Office, which he described as “a respected and independent” office.

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