Agency must release the official statistics on time

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Editorials

Agency must release the official statistics on time


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National Treasury building. FILE PHOTO | NMG

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Summary

  • The delayed release of critical reports by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is hurting the economy in many ways.
  • The statistics agency has delayed release of Kenya’s annual Economic Survey that was to reveal the full extent of damage inflicted on the economy and the jobs market during Covid-19 disruptions.

The delayed release of critical reports by the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) is hurting the economy in many ways.

First, the reports guide government and international partners in policy making and assessing the impact of various programmes.

Second, companies rely on the data to make investment decisions. Lastly, the data helps foreign investors understand the market in which they want to invest.

Simply, the KNBS delayed release of the annual economic survey is denying the country opportunities for growth.

The statistics agency has delayed release of Kenya’s annual Economic Survey that was to reveal the full extent of damage inflicted on the economy and the jobs market during Covid-19 disruptions.

Typically, the report is released in late April or early May and was to capture economic conditions in a year when Kenya imposed restrictions like travel ban, night curfew, closure of schools and night clubs to curb the spread of coronavirus.

The KNBS also delayed to release the GDP data for second and third quarter of last year.

The report for second quarter was released on October 15 as opposed to its September 30 calendar, while that for third quarter was published January 27, as opposed to December 31.

The statistics bureau cannot cite Covid-19 pandemic as the reason for delayed release of data.

And if that is the reason, then could mean that the agency is using outdated data collection methods?

Also, inconsistency in releasing data could raise doubts over the credibility of the information collected.

Because statistics do not lie, it behoves the egency to make sure that its work and processes are beyond reproach.

It is important that we have the true picture of the impact of coronavirus on the economy to inform recovery measures that will be taken by various bodies and individuals that use data from the KNBS to lead.

Kenya should use lessons from the developed countries that have been active in providing real-time data to government agencies, private sector and non-profit organisations as they battle the economic fallout from Covid-19.

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