BBS wants to hide inflation data!

Staff Correspondent | Update:

Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) is no longer publishing monthly data on inflation measuring market prices of various items, a change which has been termed a backward journey.

Instead, the bureau has been publishing quarterly inflation data since January. The planning minister, AHM Mustafa Kamal, claimed that the move was taken to present more accurate facts and fagures about the price situation.

Senior economist of the World Bank's Dhaka office Zahid Hussain said when the whole world is looking for 'high frequency data', "we are stepping back to 'low frequency' data."

"It's not possible to hide the inflation data as the people can understand inflation every now and then, seeing the prices at the marketplaces. That means the government is hiding facts of inflation to itself (by publishing only quartely report), whereas it needs to know about the latest data," he added.

Zahid Hussain even emphasised the need for weekly progress report on inflation for public consumption and policymaking.

Still, the BBS report shows, inflation rose all through the past three quarters.

It was recorded at 5.72 per cent in April-June period compared to 5.28 per cent in previous quarter. During the October-December quarter, the rate was 5.32 per cent.

Asked about this move, the planning minister on Tuesday said, "As monthly data do not show inflation accurately, we've decided to report in every three months."

At a briefing after an Executive Committee of the National Economic Council (ECNEC) meeting on Tuesday, the minister gave three months' average data of inflation, but not monthly breakdown or details of the report.

The BBS stopped publishing monthly statistics on market prices in January this year.

However, the BBS took the initiative to bringing down frequency of employment data to three months from 3-4 years and gross domestic product (GDP) data to three months from yearly report.

About the rising inflation, the planning minister said rice prices went up due flash flood and announcement of the budget.

According to the BBS data, the prices of many daily foods, including rice, meat, vegetables, chillies and cooking oil, increased between April and June. Also, prices of non-food consumer items rose.

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