International Comparison Program 2005: Background

The International Comparison Program (ICP) was established in 1968 as a joint venture of the United Nations, University of Pennsylvania and the World Bank. By 1993, the ICP had expanded to a global program.

Demand for ICP/Purchasing Power Parity (PPP) data has taken on a higher profile since the early 1990s as a result of its use in global development goal setting and monitoring of progress towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Rapid globalization and integration of markets and financial institutions have brought to prominence longstanding data quality and comparability issues, and imposed a new urgency on the need for internationally comparable statistics.

While many developing member countries in Asia and the Pacific  realize that ICP is a useful tool for comparing income and poverty data among different countries in the region, limited statistical capabilities  prevented many of these countries from participating in the ICP prior to 2005. At its 12th Session, the UNESCAP Committee on Statistics considered the proposal to launch a new round of ICP in the Asia and Pacific Region and requested the Asian Development Bank (ADB) to take the regional lead in the coordination and management of the ICP 2005.

The International Comparison Program for Asia and the Pacific (ICP Asia Pacific) 2005 is being implemented as part of the global ICP exercise. ICP, a source of reliable, timely, policy-relevant data; and a vehicle that provides a comprehensive and coherent regional capacity building initiative, will be carried out between 2003 and 2007 with 2005 as the reference year. Consistent with the global program spearheaded by the World Bank, the program's short-term initiative is to generate quality data to meet the urgent need of MDGs, whereas its long-term objective is to establish ICP as a continuing program.

2005 Governance Framework

The ICP is a collaborative international statistical undertaking involving global, regional, and national implementing agencies. The overall coordination and accountability of the global program is established through the Executive Board, a global governing body consisting of representatives of main stakeholders, including financing agencies and the UN Statistical Commission. This body is responsible for setting goals and objectives as well as the strategic framework. Day to day management of the global program is achieved through the Global Office housed in the World Bank and is responsible for global data processing, analysis and dissemination, resource mobilization, program monitoring and reporting to stakeholders . Regional Offices in Africa, Asia Pacific, Western Asia, the Commonwealth of Independent States, and Latin America work with National Coordinators to ensure comparable data. Each regional office is expected to set-up committees involving ICP participating countries to promote flow of information, disseminate PPP results and promote their use.

Set-up at the ICP Regional Office in Asia and the Pacific

In ICP Asia Pacific, the Regional Advisory Board (RAB) is the highest policy-making body with representatives from main stakeholders, regional agencies and national statistical offices (NSOs). It is responsible for setting regional goals, priorities and objectives, taking into consideration statistical needs of regional agencies and countries. The RAB is chaired by the Administrator of the Philippine National Statistics Office (elected by members) and co-chaired by the Chief Economist, ADB. As the regional office for ICP Asia Pacific, ADB conducts the day-to-day management of ICP Asia Pacific through its ICP Regional Coordinating Unit (RCU) in the Development Indicators and Policy Research Division (ERDI), Economics and Research Department (ERD). Headed by a regional coordinator, the RCU provides technical support and backup; organizes meetings, training and workshops for participating countries; and, process regional data for the publication of regional PPP estimates and reports.

At the country level, NSOs implement ICP activities including price data collection and GDP weights estimation. National administrators/coordinators are responsible for organizing data collection and liaising with the regional coordinator.

ICP Asia Pacific covers 21 ADB developing member countries (DMCs) namely: Bangladesh; Bhutan; Brunei Darussalam; Cambodia; People's Republic of China; Fiji; Hong Kong, China; India; Indonesia; Lao People's Democratic Republic; Malaysia; Maldives; Mongolia; Nepal; Pakistan; Philippines; Singapore; Sri Lanka; Taipei,China; Thailand; and Viet Nam. Other ADB member countries, which are also OECD members, participating in the current ICP round include Australia , Japan , New Zealand and the Republic of Korea . However, they will participate in the OECD comparison. Two non-ADB members: Macao, China and Islamic Republic of Iran, are also included in ICP Asia Pacific.