Sri Lanka to revamp consumer price index as inflation soars

Feb 22, 2007 (AFP) – Sri Lanka said Thursday it plans to rejig its consumer price index basket to reflect changed food and lifestyle trends as inflation based on a decades-old range of items crossed 20 percent in January. The Colombo Consumer Price Index has attracted widespread criticism because it is based on a formula better suited to consumer goods used in the 1950s, the country’s census and statistics agency said.

“We want to include mid-income earners and the products and services they use as there is an urgent need for more coverage and better reflection of consumer spending patterns,” the agency’s director D.C.A. Gunawardena said.

The 1952 index was designed to cover only the low-income, self-employed workers in the capital who earned 200 rupees (now two dollars) a month and limited their spending to food, clothing, rent, fuel and electricity.

A city labourer now earns on average 500 rupees a day (4.60 dollars) and with a family needs now include telephone bills, tuition, health, transport and cooking gas.

Gunawardena said they plan to introduce the updated version of the price index by May using statistics compiled since 2002.

“In 2002 for instance, a middle income wage earner was taking