The Census and Statistics Department has recorded a 7.2% Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth rate for the second quarter of 2006. The Department reports that the agricultural sector has recorded a growth rate of 5.5%; the industry sector has recorded a gowth rate of 9.6% while the services sector has grown by 6.5%.
Suranjana Vidyaratne, Director General of the Department announced that all subdivisions of the agricultural sector, except tea and rubber, have experienced positive growth rates. This includes coconuts, minor export crops, paddy, livestock and fisheries. She said that the significant growth in the services sector was chiefly due to the boom in mobile and telecommunications, noting that productivity in these areas has also improved.
Vidyaratne also stated that there has been a decline in the unemployment rate, even though an exact figure could not be given. “There have been shifts within the three sectors – the employed, the unemployed and the inactive because of the Maha and Yala season as well as movements in the fishing industry,” she said.
The CCPI – the country’s official Price Index which is used to monitor the cost of living of the people – for all items in August was 4650. A decrease of 22.5 index point change of 0.5 % was noted from the July 2006 index which was 4672.50. This represents a Rs. 45.40 decrease in expenditure value of the market basket. However the year-on-year CCPI of August 2006 and August 2005 has a different story to tell: there has been an increase of 617.9 index points or 15.3% over August 2005.
The inflation rate for the month of August was 10.8%, lower by 2.0 percentage points compared to last year’s August rate of 12.8%. The month-on-month inflation rate of the Colombo city was 0.4 percentage points higher than that of last month.
The decrease in the CCPI for August is attributed to the decrease in prices of garlic, red onions, some varieties of fresh and dried fish, coconuts, eggs and most varieties of vegetables accounting for Rs. 241.07 or 119.34 index points. Fuel and light and miscellaneous groups have recorded price increases amounting to Rs. 11.40 and Rs. 30.70 respectively.
However, the prices of wheat flour, rice and curry, sugar, milk, tea, dried chilies, limes, cowpea whole, manioc, jam, biscuit, cream crackers, fresh fish (Balaya and Small Mullet), dried fish (Katta and Koduwa) have increased.
Of the total decrease of 0.5%, food items account for a decrease of 1.4% mainly due to the decrease in the prices of vegetables (1.98%) and fresh fish (0.16%). There has been an increase of 0.24% on account of fuel and light, mainly kerosene oil (0.21%). Clothing and miscellaneous items have recorded an increase of 0.02% and 0.66% respectively.
Asked if the escalating cost of oil was reflected in the CCPI, D. C. A. Gunawardena, Director – Prices at the Department of Census and Statistics, said that the cost of petrol and diesel was not included in the basket; only Kerosine was included. “However, the transportation costs of the working class have been taken into account, such train and bus transportation. Nevertheless, there is still an inflation of 10.8%. So even though the direct cost is not included, the indirect costs are reflected in the index,” he said.
Caption: (L-R) D. Amarasinghe, Director – National Accounts, Suranjana Vidyaratne, Director General and Gamini de Silva, Director.