Colombo Telegraph

Reliability Of Economic Statistics; Friday Forum Urges Govt To Seek A Credible Solution

Friday Forum shares with several others, including scholars, politicians and public officials, deep concern with the reliability of macro-economic aggregates published by government and related agencies. Estimates that lose credibility because of improbabilities, inconsistencies, neglect and errors cut down the usefulness of these vital estimates. More seriously, wrong and misleading estimates can lead to costly and even disastrous errors in policies with sad consequences for the public. Central to these indices are estimates of National Accounts.

Jayantha Dhanapala

Friday Forum, as a group of concerned citizens, urges government to seek a long term credible solution to these urgent problems. They see a Committee of Experts appointed by the President in his capacity as Minister of Finance as the most suitable instrument to inquire into the question and propose solutions.  A Committee of such nature will require diverse expertise in a variety of related disciplines. Someone rich in local experience in the use of these data in policy making can lead this Committee. Someone fully conversant with the System of National Accounts in its application in a developing country in the region and another with high expertise in the conduct of National Sample Surveys and the processing of survey data would be the key technical personnel. It would be forward looking to include two promising senior lecturers from two different universities in the country to further their expertise in the theory and the practice of estimating National Accounts and the principles of their application in policy making. Such Committee would need to work over 12-18 months to agree on proposals and work out their application on the ground. They will need substantial resources, which Friday Forum sees as an investment for the well being of the people of this country.

Friday forum urges members of the public to articulate these concerns more forcefully than hitherto and government to take measures that would leave a lasting impact now on policy making in the country.

Jayantha Dhanapala and Dr. Usvatte-Arrachchi on behalf of the Friday Forum

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