Sri Lanka starts work on compiling single set of national accounts

From left: Dr. Fernando Im, Senior Country Economist for Sri Lanka and the Maldives, The World Bank, Hon. Eran Wickramaratne, State Minister, Ministry of Finance and Mass Media, Dr. W A Wijewardana, Former Deputy Governor of the Central Bank of Sri Lanka, Prof. Indralal de Silva, Former (Chair) of Demography, University of Colombo, Prof. Amala de Silva, Department of Economics, University of Colombo at the panel discussion on "Demographic Change in Sri Lanka" moderated by Dr. Ramani Gunatilaka, International Centre for Ethnic Studies.

September 29, 2006 (LBO) – Two key agencies that prepare Sri Lanka’s national accounts, are working towards compiling a single set of numbers, to ensure credibility in growth figures, officials said Friday. The Census & Statistics Dept and the Central Bank now issue two sets of growth numbers for Sri Lanka, and they differ by a few decimal points which causes confusion and has somewhat dented public credibility.

For instance, the Central Bank on Friday said the economy has expanded by 8.0 percent for the six months of this year, a day after the Census & Statistics Dept announced it was 7.1 percent.

“There is nothing wrong with both sets of numbers, the data structure is different,” the bank’s Head of Economic Research H N Thenuwara told reporters.

Both agencies are expecting a robust economic expansion with the Central Bank forecasting a full-year growth of 7.0 percent in 2006.

“The problem lies in the base year of both institutions,” explains Anila Dias Bandaranaike, Director Statistics at the Central Bank.

“The Census uses 1998 as the base year, while the bank uses 1996. We need to revise the base year to a common platform. The structures are being done,” she said adding that bo