Economic data ‘jilmart’ and development myth revealed

By Bandula Sirimanna

The rosy economy presented by the Rajapaksa government to attract foreign and local investors as well as to raise sovereign bonds overseas to repay foreign debts has suddenly turned to an inflated economy with startling revelations of concocting fundamenal economic data by the authorised state body, a leftist party parliamentarian asserted.

JVP Parliamentarian Anura Kumara Dissanayake told a packed gathering of bankers and government officials in Colombo this week that the artificially inflated economy of Sri Lanka will collapse like a pack of cards without giving prior signals as the government is trying to hide the true economic situation in the country from the whole world.

But everything came to light after a revelation made by him in parliament with documentary proof following a statement made by a senior official attached Sri Lanka Census and Statistics Department, he said.

“When they keep on giving false statistics on economic growth and when the public is not actually enjoying the benefits of such a high rate of growth, it is natural that the people will start suspecting the figures so revealed, as well as the credibility of the institutions that declare such data as being factual,” he added.

He was speaking at a seminar on “Data gimmicks and Development Myth” organised by the All Ceylon Bank Employees Union.
Deputy Minister Dr. Sarath Amunugama who was invited to address the gathering failed to turn up and missed a chance of replying the serious allegations against the government.

Mr Dissanayake noted that his party is in possession of credible evidence that the rate of economic growth in the first quarter of 2013 which was included in the budget was increased to 5.5 per cent from 5.4 per cent over the telephone, and later it was further inflated to 6 per cent, on an ‘order’ given by the Director General of the Department of Census and Statistics to the Director of the National Accounts Division in the same department.

He said the country’s economic growth, a major indicator of the state of the economy, has been tampered with to attract investors and show the world that the island nation is in a sound economic footing.

Foreign investors are studying the economic fundamentals of a country before taking a decision to make investments, he added.
UNP Parliamentarian Eran Wickramaratne addressing the seminar said, “The Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank and the Department of Census and Statistics present a large amount of data and they try to show that the data they present is transparent” but which was not so.

However, there was another side of the budget presented by the government in parliament, he said, adding that according to ‘Budget Transparency Index’ Sri Lanka’s budget was at the 13th position in 2010. However, in the same classification method this has come down to the 53rd position in 2013.

This shows that there was no transparency in the budget presented by the government.

Responding to a statement made by the Governor of the Central Bank claiming that several politicians were making a fuss about the data, he noted that normally, the Governor of a Central Bank should be a knowledgeable and experienced person in economics. But the Sri Lankan Central Bank Governor has no knowledge in economics and he was one time a politician who contested an election, was defeated and was appointed to the high post.

the sunday times

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