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* Sri Lanka statistics department says it follows international standards, dismisses reports of data manipulation
Thu, Jan 23, 2014, 01:08 am SL Time, ColomboPage News Desk, Sri Lanka.

Jan 22, Colombo: Sri Lanka's Census and Statistics Department dismissing accusations of data manipulation says it follows international standards when preparing government data on vital indicators.

Addressing a media briefing, the Director General of the Census and statistics department D.C.A Gunawardena said that the Department prepares data in accordance with the standards of international organizations such as World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the United Nations organizations.

Recently opposition legislators in parliament have raised doubt in Sri Lanka's growth figures accusing the government of manipulating data to get lower rates on foreign loans and attracting foreign investors.

Rejecting the accusations, Gunawardena said that certain people have made misleading statements about the statistics published by the Department in order to achieve their personnel objectives.

Emphasizing that the data relating to GDP, inflation, and economic growth are prepared according to internationally accepted methods the Director General said those statements and reports are baseless and completely false.

The Director General charged that a person who functioned as an Acting Director of the Department has given a false statement about the GDP and the said the Department will dismiss the official for leaking false information.

According to a Reuters report, H.S. Wanasinghe, the former acting director at the National Accounts Department, had stated the Statistics Office revised up 2013 first quarter year-on-year economic growth figure to 6 percent from his originally computed 5.4 percent.

However, the IMF in its May 16, 2013 report Article IV Consultation and Proposal for Post-Program Monitoring said the national accounts suffer from insufficient data sources and undeveloped statistical techniques and the methodology for deriving GDP at constant prices is not satisfactory.

The Central Bank defending the integrity of the growth data said yesterday that media reports have distorted the recommendations of the IMF, and used its statements largely out of context.

It said that Article IV consultation missions always propose recommendations for further improvements in every country and the recommendations proposed for Sri Lanka are progressive measures which would assist the country to further improve its compilation of national account statistics.

According to the Central Bank, the monetary authority and the Department of Census and Statistics continue to submit country information/data as per the requirements under Article IV to the IMF.

The proposed recommendations are not in any way a suggestion that the current methodology cannot be relied upon, the Bank clarified.

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