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Lockdown affects Stats SA’s collection of economic data

Statistics South Africa is struggling to collect the data required to pull together crucial reports.

FILE: These delays would, in turn, heighten the uncertainty in the public sector because without this data from the Sarb, economists cannot accurately understand the effect of the pandemic and the lockdown on the economy. Picture: 123rf.

CAPE TOWN – COVID-19 is not only shredding the economy by reducing economic activity to a virtual standstill, the pandemic is also making it harder for economists to forecast what would happen next and make decisions accordingly.

Statistics South Africa is struggling to collect the data required to pull together crucial reports.

The stats agency reported in April that it would not be able to make the deadline for quarter 1 gross domestic product (GDP) data and would only be able to release it at the end of June.

That delay caused a cascading problem for the South African Reserve Bank (Sarb). Without GDP data, the central bank cannot compile its quarterly bulletin or its Balance of Payments report (BoP).

Without the BoP report, it cannot pull together reports on external debt and international investment position statistics.

These delays would, in turn, heighten the uncertainty in the public sector because without this data from the Sarb, economists cannot accurately understand the effect of the pandemic and the lockdown on the economy.

For official information about COVID-19 from the Department of Health, please click here.