Economy

CB Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal dismissed the charges (File Photo)

Shocking report reveals government is altering economic data

Sat, 04 January 2014 03:51

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(NIDAHASA News) Analyses fear that government's economic statics might have been heavily doctored after serious allegations rose in the parliament last week.

Peoples Liberation Front (JVP) parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake told parliament last week he have received evidence that the data provided by the government was artificially inflated.

Dissanayake, quoting an investigation report filled in court said that the Department of Census and Statistics has been systemically altering its data in favor of government.

In this report, Department’s Account Division Director H.S. Wanasinghe says he was told to change Economic Growth Rate from 5.5% to 6%.

“On June 13, 2013, we had extensive discussions with the participation of the head statistician, assistant statistician, officials of the statistical department, senior statisticians, and the Deputy Director on the summary of the quarterly national accounts. It was thereupon calculated that the growth rate was 5.5% with a 0.1% difference from the previous.” Wanasinghe reveals in his statement.

"[But later] Ms. Nigamuni called me and told that Deputy Director General had instructed growth rate should be adjusted to 6%."

"“It’s a shocking revelation," United National Party (UNP) parliamentarian and economic affairs spokesman Harsha De Silva said.

"If this is true it brings down the credibility of all government data. We call for an immediate investigation headed by a senior independent person into this. This is exactly what happened prior to the falling of the Greek economy where there had been a repeated doctoring of data,” De Silva added.

“There is a notion in the country that the data presented by the government with regard to the economy was tampered or doctored. However, this was the first time that concrete evidence of such acts has been revealed. This in fact questions the credibility of all the data that the government has provided throughout. Therefore we immediately call for independent investigations into the matter instead of looking the other way and hushing it up,” Anura Dissanakaye told media later.

Meanwhile Sinhala language weekly "Ravaya", quoting internal sources claimed that inflation figures have also been heavily altered.

According to sources, the real inflation rate for first quarter of 2013 is 13.9%, but was announced as 8.8%.

However Central Bank Governor Ajith Nivard Cabraal dismissed the charges and warned detractors not to go to the extent of undermining the entire data gathering process to meet their own ends.

“I want to very clearly say that we have a sound system of collecting and disseminating data. These systems meet international standards. When the numbers that we have do not suit one or two people, they make charges like this. We cannot help that,” he told reporters during a press conference held after the launch of the annual Road Map.

Asian Development Bank (ADB) and World Bank use data issued by Department of Census and Statistics as the base for their calculation. ADB's latest country report shows a positive growth in Sri Lankan economy.

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