The Central Bank is to publish new indices on property prices going forward while modifying the existing wage indices in a bid to enhance the statistical inputs used in policymaking at the Central Bank and also to better track the various developments in the private sector.
Indices on property prices, wages and jobs published on a monthly basis provide crucial insights into the health of an economy and are used to determine the monetary and fiscal policies in developed and emerging market economies.
For this purpose, the Central Bank has already taken measures to enhance its technical capabilities, develop the processes and train its staff.
“We would also continue to strengthen the technical capability, particularly with regard to the compilation methodologies of macroeconomic statistics in line with international standards. This could promote sound economic analyses for the purpose of formulating effective policies, while improving the transparency of the monetary policy and policy communication,” Central Bank Governor Dr. Indrajit Coomaraswamy said.
The Central Bank, among a host of regular economic surveys carried out, began publishing the Purchasing Managers Index (PMI) from 2015 onwards, a widely used statistical model to gauge the strength and direction of an economy.
Meanwhile, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) recently warned Sri Lanka about the signs of sharp rise in housing and land prices. The Central Bank’s land price index for the Colombo District has increased by 12.5 percent year-on-year in June 2016.
In view of possible bubbles in these sectors, the IMF suggested to the authorities to tighten the monetary stance further and also to impose maximum loan-to-value ratios to curb credit flows into selected sectors.
“If credit growth does not abate as expected or inflationary pressures resurge, the authorities should tighten further the monetary stance. In addition, macro-prudential tools can be applied if needed, including a maximum loan-to-value ratio regulation to curb credit growth,” stated the IMF staff report, which was presented to the Executive Board’s consideration on November 18, 2016.
Earlier, Dr. Coomaraswamy announced that the bank was in a joint project with the IMF to develop a structural model-based Forecasting and Policy Analysis System (FPAS) to strengthen the monetary policy decision-making process and to support Sri Lanka’s transition to a flexible inflation targeting regime.
“Under the FPAS, the Central Bank has already finalized the development of the baseline version of a semi-structural Quarterly Projection Model (QPM) for forecasting and analysing the monetary policy,” he said.
Since his appointment, Dr. Coomaraswamy has taken several measures to increase the transparency of not just the public debt market but also in many other areas of operations of the Central Bank to rebuild the credibility and public confidence in the institution.