Bangladesh to publish quarterly GDP data before IMF deadline
Bangladesh has planned to release its GDP data on a quarterly basis starting from the first quarter of the next fiscal year, three months prior to the International Monetary Fund (IMF) deadline.
The move is part of IMF's conditions for approval of a $4.7 billion loan programme to be released in seven instalments.
The IMF believes that the quarterly releases of GDP data will provide a more accurate picture of the country's economic performance and allow for quicker policy formulation.
"Over 100 countries, including all OECD nations and most South Asian countries, have established systems for reporting their quarterly GDP, and it's about time we did the same," said Dr Selim Raihan, professor of economics at the University of Dhaka and executive director of the South Asian Network on Economic Modeling.
He noted that attempts have been made previously but have not come to fruition, and praised the effort to finally publish quarterly GDP data, even under the IMF's conditions.
Raihan also stressed the importance of rebasing the Consumer Price Index (CPI) as the current base fails to accurately reflect changes in the cost of living, especially for the poor.
He called for the Bangladesh Bureau of Statistics (BBS) to create a separate CPI for marginalised and low-income groups, particularly industrial workers, and to incorporate data from the BBS's ongoing Household Income and Expenditure Survey into the new CPI series.
The BBS is responsible for meeting the IMF's conditions for publishing quarterly GDP data and updating the CPI.
Also, the BBS has received technical support from the South Asia Regional Training and Technical Assistance Center of the IMF and the Asian Development Bank (ADB) in preparing the quarterly GDP report, said Matiar Rahman, director general of the BBS.
The IMF is seeking to increase transparency in data to strengthen policy-making capacity. The agency has proposed to publish annual GDP data within three months of the end of each year and the quarterly report within 100 days of the end of each quarter starting in January 2024.
The CPI base year will also be updated to 2020-21 from 2005-06 to accurately measure inflation, he said.
Overall, Bangladesh's move to release its GDP data on a quarterly basis is a positive step towards improving its economic performance and policy formulation, analysts said.
"The timely and accurate data will provide insight into the country's economic growth and help policymakers make informed decisions," said Dr Krishna Gain, former DG of BBS.
Quarterly GDP data is a common practice among many advanced economies, including the United States, Canada, Japan, Australia, and countries in the European Union.
India started releasing GDP data on a quarterly basis starting from FY12. Before that, India used to release GDP data on an annual basis.