* Opposition alleges govt manipulates economic data; govt
* Government also in the process to change inflation data
By Shihar Aneez
COLOMBO, May 13 Sri Lanka will upgrade its gross
domestic product (GDP) compilation method to reflect
international standards from next year, a top government
official said on Tuesday, after repeated criticism that
authorities overestimated economic growth.
The new compilation method will capture all of the new
economic activities in the $67 billion economy, with a change in
the base year, said D.C.A. Gunawardena, the head of state-run
Department of Census and Statistics.
"We are going to move the base year to 2010 from 2002 with
new updated classification using International Standards
Industrial Classification," Gunawardena told Reuters, referring
to the United Nations system for classifying economic data.
"We hope to introduce the new method from the first quarter
of next year. It will be compiled according to the latest
international statistical standard for the national accounts."
The IMF last year said Sri Lanka's national accounts "suffer
from insufficient data sources and undeveloped statistical
techniques" and the method for deriving gross domestic product
at constant prices was "not satisfactory".
The global lender, however, has said it has been using the
government's official historic data for its own estimates.
The statistics office is also in the process of changing its
inflation index to change the basket of items and broaden
coverage to the whole nation rather than just the capital city.
The changes in the both economic indicators come as
opposition legislators have repeatedly criticised President
Mahinda Rajapaksa's government of long overstating growth
estimates and giving unrealistic inflation figures aiming at
getting lower rates on foreign loans and attracting foreign
But the government has rejected the claim of manipulating
Official figures show Sri Lanka's annual economic growth has
been more than 6.3 percent every year since 2009 and the
inflation rate, under the current index and a previous one had
been in single digits since February 2009.
The government sacked the former acting director at the
National Accounts Department of the Statistics office after a
probe into his internal statement that stated the 2013
first-quarter growth figure was increased to 6 percent from the
original 5.4 percent in his absence just before the official
(Reporting by Shihar Aneez; Editing by Kim Coghill)