From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja
The National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) has slammed critics of its data, saying that their opinions are misleading and lack content.
Speaking to Daily Sun, the Statistician General of the Federation, Dr Simon Harry, explained that while the GDP determines the performance of an economy, the production of the Consumer Price Index (CPI) determines the changes in the prices of goods and services.
‘In the same way, the production of unemployment figures which is done through the labour force survey certainly follows processional laid-down guidelines provided by the United Nations Statistics Division, which is the coordinating organ of the statistical system in the entire globe.
‘So, for somebody to sit down somewhere and assume that the entire process is flawed or influenced by any government, certainly that is not correct. NBS is strictly professionally autonomous and as such the process of producing statistics from the beginning to the end of it is strictly done by NBS.
‘For the GDP, we have our staff all over the federation. And so, we conduct what we call a quarterly establishment survey and then again, that is complemented by administrative statistics. For instance, we collect information from Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) and Companies Income Taxes (CIT), as well as Value Added Taxes (VAT). Again, we collect information on fiscal data from the Office of the Accountant General of the Federation, both at the federal level and each state of the federation. Again, we collect the audited report of the Office of Auditor General of the Federation as well as the 36 states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) auditors general. All this information are compiled and analysed and we get an aggregate GDP that determines the performance of the economy.
‘The same applies to Consumer Price Index (CPI) which measures the inflation rate. We have a full basket of goods and services that is made up of 740 commodities and we have about 10,523 responders that provide us with information and our market outlets have spread across the 36 states of the federation and the FCT. So, this information is collected on a monthly basis and analysed and weighted for us to be able to come up with the average price level of each commodity. You can imagine, we are talking about 740 commodities and we are talking of 10,523 responders. People go about accusing us wrongly. Perhaps, it is possible that in your village the price of a commodity is N10,000 and in some other places, it is N8,000. So, at the end of the day, what we do is to bring together the information gathered from all the market outlets and then average them and come up with an average price of that particular commodity. That is why at the end of it all what we come up with may not be a representative of what you have in your village but rather a representative of the entire situation of the country. And mind you, we are aggregating for the whole basket and not just one commodity. Again, the basket is made up of varieties of commodities. Some might be constant, some might be going up and some might be coming down. But then an aggregate of this will now determine the price level,’ he explained.
Recall that some experts who picked holes in the figures claimed that NBS figures are not reflective of the situation on the ground.
For instance, a renowned economist and Executive Chairman, Society for Analytical Economics, Professor Godwin Owoh, had in the past, described NBS economic growth result as a politically-motivated one aimed at scoring some political point.
‘The GDP report is not reflective of the real situation in the country,’ he said.
A development economist, Mr Odilim Enwegbra, had equally faulted the GDP of 2.3 per cent, saying there was nothing tangible on the ground to support the result by the NBS.