Further delay of 2Q GDP figures likely | Sunday Observer

Further delay of 2Q GDP figures likely

25 October, 2020

The results of the second quarter of GDP performance which has been finalised will be released with the third quarter results by the end of the year, said a senior official of the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS) when inquired about the reasons for the delay in releasing the second quarter performance on Friday.

“We have finalised the second quarter GDP growth figures but it will be released along with the third quarter figures by the end of the year as per the instruction from the Ministry of Finance,” said DCS Director General Dr. Indu Bandara.

A senior official of the Finance Ministry said no such instructions had been given and added that quarterly results could be released at any time.

“We have not instructed anyone to delay or release the results of the two quarters together and there is no hard and fast rule that quarterly results should be released,” Treasury Secretary  ...S.R. Attygalle said. The second quarter GDP figures were expected by end last month in line with the time scheduled for the release of results of a quarter.

When inquired around August about the second quarter figures the DCS DG said the second quarter figures most likely would be out by the end of September.

However, speculation is that the delay in releasing the second quarter performance is due to the minus growth notched during the quarter.

The quarterly performance figures are released 75 days after the issuance of the last quarter results.

The quarterly performance of the economy is presented through the DCS website while the annual performance is issued through hard copies to relevant institutions.

Data for the compilation of the reports are obtained from over 250 organisations that contribute to the GDP of the country.

The economy contracted by 1.6 percent in the first quarter this year contrary to the expectations of the Central Bank which speculated a higher growth rate.

The release of the first quarter results was delayed due to the current crisis which impedes the smooth operation of the economy.

There again speculation for the delay in releasing the first quarter figures was due to the negative growth rate recorded during the quarter.

The blame for the unsatisfactory performance of the GDP was put on the global pandemic which economists and think tanks rebuffed saying the blame cannot be passed on the pandemic as it was barely 10 days that the economy suffered due to the crisis.

The Central Bank officials at the previous monetary policy review media briefing said the bank would hold discussions with DCS prior to the release of quarterly results of the GDP.However, clear indications are that GDP growth during the second quarter will be negative due to the impact of the pandemic.

On the growth forecast for the year, Central Bank officials said it was too early to predict the overall GDP growth for the year as much depended on the third and fourth quarter performance which is likely to improve with imports declining, an up-tick in exports and an improvement in foreign remittances.

The Central Bank noted that it expects a faster recovery of the economy during the fourth quarter due to the political stability in the country and growth stimulation measures of the government.

The World Bank estimates Sri Lanka’s growth rate this year to be -6.7 percent while the IMF has revised down its global forecast for 2020.