At an estimated US$ 3.7 billion in 2019, the size of the economy of the Turkish Cypriot community (TCc) is about 15 percent of the economy of the government-controlled areas of the Republic of Cyprus (RoC). Slightly over half of this difference is explained by differences in their respective populations (At about 372 thousand, the population of the TCc is about 42 percent of the RoC according to the latest estimates for 2018). Key economic and social data – crucial for evidence-based policymaking, successful public service delivery and transparency – are still scarce in the TCc. To increase the efficiency of data collection, the TCc established an independent “Statistics Office” (SO) in 2019, replacing the “State Planning Organization” under the “Prime Minister’s Office” as the main agency responsible for data collection.
While the establishment of the “SO” is an important first step, the “SO” still requires extensive support to increase the efficiency of public data collection. For instance, there are significant shortages of personnel and specialized experts. The IT infrastructure is old and in need of vigorous update. The household surveys are conducted only occasionally, while the compilation of national accounts requires methodological improvements as well as more frequent and better-quality data sharing among public institutions.
The Household Budget Survey is the main data source to monitor socio-economic statistics but is being conducted every 6-7 years (in most EU countries such surveys are typically carried out yearly), which limits the “SO”’s ability for accurate and timely assessment changes in the economy, thereby constraining the ability of policymakers to devise effective policy responses. Poverty and vulnerability figures are updated too sporadically, potentially leaving families exposed to risks. Prices and households’ consumption cannot be monitored closely, and TC Administration’s programs cannot be assessed as often as they should be, thereby increasing the risk of investing resources in inefficient tools. The crucial information for the economy, such as weights for the consumer price index (used for measures of inflation) and household income/expenditure information that are necessary in the compilation of the national accounts, can only be calculated during every round of the Household Budget Survey.
The Household Budget Survey will have a vital role in the operations and the projects of the World Bank teams working in the region. The World Bank teams will be equipped updated information while designing their operational and analytical projects in the TCc. The poverty impact of the projects is expected to increase through the usage of updated information on households.