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FeaturesTISL wants Heads of Parliament to appoint Select Committee to probe national socioeconomic data

TISL wants Heads of Parliament to appoint Select Committee to probe national socioeconomic data

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Transparency International Sri Lanka (TISL), the national chapter of the global anti-corruption movement,has requested Speaker Chamal Rajapaksa and all the party leaders to take immediate action to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate allegations against the accuracy and genuineness of national socioeconomic data released by the two official agencies of the government, the Department of Census and Statistics and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka.

 TISL in a letter to the Speaker and the Party Leaders indicated that there is enough evidence before it to believe that the Department of Census and statistics has been manipulating national socioeconomic data.

This suspicion has culminated with the revelation in Parliament by Anura Kumara Dissanayaka on how the senior officials of the Census and Statistics Department have manipulated data on national economic growth, said TISL in the letter signed by Executive Director S. Ranugge.
“National socioeconomic data of a country are indicative of a country’s destiny with national and international significance. They are important nationally as all policy decisions are based on such data. If the policies are made on the basis of concocted data the country is driven to a disastrous situation,” TISL alleged.

 Following is the full text of the letter:

 Transparency International Sri Lanka, the national chapter of the global anti-corruption movement, wishes to draw your attention to the serious allegations against the accuracy and genuineness of national socioeconomic data released by the two official agencies of the government, the Department of Census and Statistics and the Central Bank of Sri Lanka. When these official agencies release impressive socioeconomic data on Sri Lanka over the years, we all are happy visualising that our country has been performing well after the 30-year-long disastrous civil conflict. However, recent news reports and views expressed by some professionals have pushed us to a conundrum as the accuracy of such official figures has been questioned on the ground that there appears to be a significant gap between the figures in some areas like inflation, cost of living etc and the actual situation of the country.

 This suspicion has culminated with the revelation in Parliament by Anura Kumara Dissanayaka on how the senior officials of the Census and Statistics Department have manipulated data on national economic growth. This incident cannot be simply disregarded or ignored limiting it to an isolated one. This incident casts reasonable doubts among us that the department has been massaging national data tarnishing the long standing credibility of the department for unbiased reporting on national data.
 National socioeconomic data of a country are indicative of a country’s destiny with national and international significance. They are important nationally as all policy decisions are based on such data. If the policies are made on the basis of concocted data the country is driven to a disastrous situation. It is naïve to think that international community could be misled with such manipulated data. Most of the international agencies have their assessment of the socio-economic situation of countries and even the genuine investors will rely on such information before making their investment decisions.

 Now there is enough evidence before us to believe that the Department of Census and statistics has been manipulating national socioeconomic data. People have lost faith in the accuracy of the data released by the government and this undesirable situation needs to be arrested to save the country’s image and integrity. The credibility of official data is to be re-established in the best interest of the country and respecting right of the people for accurate official information.

 In view of the above, Transparency International Sri Lanka humbly requests the Speaker and all the party leaders to take immediate action to appoint a Parliamentary Select Committee to investigate these grave allegations and recommend remedial measures.
FT

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