Quarterly GDP growth data from next fiscal year
The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) is going to publish the gross domestic product (GDP) growth data every quarter from the next fiscal year.
As an experiment, the statistical agency has started preparing quarterly economic growth reports from this year, Mohammad Tajul Islam, director-general of the BBS, told The Daily Star.
"We will not publish the quarterly growth report this year. Instead, the report will be published on a regular basis from the next fiscal year."
GDP is the monetary value of all finished goods and services made within a country during a specific period. In Bangladesh, the government initially publishes the annual provisional figure before releasing the final number.
Planning Minister MA Mannan has also asked the BBS to make public the quarterly GDP growth report from now onwards.
"You already have the database. You can start publishing quarterly reports from now on. It will not be a challenge for you," he said in a meeting yesterday.
Prof Shamsul Alam, state minister for planning, described the publication of the quarterly data as a vital task.
"This is because almost all the countries in the world, including India and Malaysia, issue GDP growth reports on a quarterly basis."
"The economy has a cycle. It sometimes goes up and sometimes goes down. Moreover, the prices of products fluctuate. So, quarterly updates are needed to measure these fluctuations in the economy."
The BBS is planning to produce quarterly data when it is even struggling to bring out various other data on time.
The state-run agency has been compiling and disseminating annual GDP data since independence. Still, it could not publish GDP data for the fiscal year of 2019-20 on time amid the coronavirus pandemic. It published the figures in August this year, 13 months after the fiscal year concluded.
The delay also happened in the past on several occasions.
The BBS has also failed to ensure timely generation of the data on agriculture production. It usually takes several months to release crop production estimates, whereas a timely release of the data is vital for the government to make a plan.
Prof Alam said the BBS had to provide data on time. Then, the government can take steps timely.
For example, if there is a shortage of stock of a product, and the information is readily available, the government can import it without any delay or take other measures.
"The report must be published immediately after the end of a quarter. If it can be done within a few months, it will be useful."
Prof Alam also asked the BBS to publish district-based GDP reports so that the government can take effective initiatives about district-level development.
The quarterly GDP figure has become an important number throughout the world. There is also a demand for quarterly data from various domestic and international agencies and the users of macroeconomic aggregates.
According to economists, the GDP expansion data every three months provides a clear picture of the economy's current performance and is handier than the annual numbers.
Against the backdrop, the BBS feels the need to come up with quarterly GDP numbers, the agency said in a paper.
Bangladesh aims to achieve 7.2 per cent economic growth in the current fiscal year.