Sri Lanka to sack officer over ‘false’ GDP data row

COLOMBO, January 22, 2014 (AFP) – Sri Lanka’s main statistics office Wednesday said a senior official who denounced alleged government pressure to inflate economic growth data would be sacked after he was found guilty of leaking confidential information. Statistics chief Gunawardena denied that he was under pressure to change economic data to suit the government which relies heavily on foreign borrowings.

“It is a funny joke,” he said of the allegations. “People can talk about any rubbish, but the department of Census and Statistics has no political agenda.”

President Mahinda Rajapakse, who is also the finance minister, told parliament in November that he expected the economy to grow 7.5-8.0 percent in calendar 2014, up from a provisional 7.2 percent in 2013 and 6.4 percent in 2012.

The economy recorded 8.0 percent-plus growth for two straight years after the end of Sri Lanka’s decades-long civil war which saw troops crush separatist Tamil Tiger rebels in 2009.

UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said in August last year after a visit to Sri Lanka that the country under Rajapakse “is showing signs of heading in an increasingly authoritarian direction.” Accounts Director H.S. Wanasinghe faced two separate disciplinary hearings after he c