Sri Lanka economic statistics questioned

June 18, 2008 (LBO) – Rosy growth figures put out by government outfits are suspect, a Sri Lankan think tank has said, calling for the collection and analysis of socio economic data to be entrusted to independent authorities. The Point Pedro Institute of Development, said the outlook for the island economy is bleak given rising prices of commodities and a slow down in the US economy, the main market for Sri Lankan products.

Muttukrishna Sarvananthan, principal researcher of the institute, said much of the growth in recent years has come from an expansion in government, especially employment, and was not productive growth.

” . . . it is high time to entrust the collection and dissemination of socio economic data to an independent authority like the Central Statistical Organisation in India and Great Britain,” he said in a new report on the economy.

“People of this country cannot trust the socio economic data of the DCS (Department of Census and Statistics) and Central Bank because they appear to be subjected to politicisation.”

The Central Bank, which is statutorily supposed to be independent, has become a “pawn” in the hands of the government, Sarvananthan said.

“DCS being a government department is e