BBS plans to release quarterly figures on economic growth | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, October 09, 2012 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, October 09, 2012

BBS plans to release quarterly figures on economic growth

Economists want to see the agency as an independent body


The Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics plans to provide data on GDP and labour force on a quarterly basis.
At present the government agency releases estimates on the country's gross domestic product on a yearly basis and conducts its labour force survey every two years.
The agency also plans to calculate 'green GDP' by estimating the cost of environmental pollution in the economy.
Its other plans include developing the national population register, conducting the manufacturing survey every two years, and introducing business registers for all economic entities.
The agency also wants to improve agricultural statistics, carry out population, economic and agricultural census regularly, go for an online data collection system and develop a database on the hardcore poor.
The BBS outlines these plans in its draft National Strategy for the Development of Statistics, a 10-year plan aimed at producing timely, accurate and reliable statistics for policy framing.
The statistical agency placed the draft at a workshop at its headquarters in Dhaka yesterday to get suggestions from users, including ministries and economists.
The draft was prepared under a World Bank-financed capacity building scheme.
"The national strategy is necessary to produce timely, accurate and reliable statistics needed for policy formulation," said Md Dilder Hossain, project director of the capacity building unit at the BBS.
He said the agency will calculate GDP based on a manual named System of National Accounting 2008 instead of SNA-2003. It plans to provide quarterly estimate on GDP by the end of 2013, he said.
Economists at the programme welcomed the plans but said the BBS should set the priority areas with a time-bound plan taking its capacity into account.
They also called for making the agency an independent body to ensure that data are not manipulated on political interests.
"What is important is the acceptability of the data and coordination with other agencies that also compile data," said Prof Wahiduddin Mahmud, an economist and a former adviser to a caretaker government.
He said reliable statistics is a kind of good investment for a country.
"Proper statistics is needed to attract local and foreign investment," said Mahmud, calling for an independent BBS.
"Independence is extremely important," he said, adding that there is political sensitivity to GDP growth and inflation trends.
Mahmud said, despite limitations, estimates on GDP growth and inflation still remain free from manipulation.
Ahsan Mansur, executive director at Policy Research Institute, said quarterly data on GDP and growth would be good for the users.
Mustafa K Mujeri, director general of Bangladesh Institute of Development Studies, said the BBS should frame strategies considering its capacity.
"We should set priorities at first and provide those statistics that are needed under the current five-year plan of the government, he said.
Hossain Zillur Rahman, another former adviser to a caretaker government, said ensuring the maximum utilisation of statistics should be given priority.
Rahman also gave importance to methodologies for data collection and calculation.
Riti Ibrahim, secretary to statistics and informatics division of the planning ministry, said the government is framing a statistical law, which is at the final stage now.
The capacity of the BBS should also be enhanced, she said.
BBS Director General Golam Mostafa Kamal chaired the event.

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