The National Statistical Office (NSO) says the rebasing of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) is currently underway and is expected to be completed by November this year.
NSO latest stance is in sharp contrast to an earlier indication that the exercise, which seeks to capture the current state and structure of the economy, would wind up in December 2019.
In an interview on Thursday, NSO spokesperson Kingsley Manda said the first phase of the exercise, which involved data cleaning, has been conducted while computation is in process.
He said: “Based on information from our National Accounts Department, rebasing will be finalised this year in November. Apart from the census of economic activities, there are other sources that will feed into this exercise.”
On December 19 last year, NSO presented findings of the economic census, which is the full measurement of all entrepreneurial units located within the country involved in any economic activity.
The overall goal of the census was to provide comprehensive data on the activities and structure of the country’s economy and provide a comprehensive frame of establishments for all economic surveys, which will be updated
from time to time.
But Manda said as of 2018, Malawi’s total national wealth as measured by nominal GDP was estimated at K5.3 trillion ($7 billion).
Ministry of Finance, Economic Planning and Development last year announced that many things are happening in the country’s private sector, but are not recorded formally when calculating GDP, which is the total value of all final goods and services produced within a country.
Rebasing GDP means changing the base year for calculating the nominal GDP at current market prices. Malawi has been using 2010 as a base year.
Analysts believe that over the years, economic landscape is now dynamic and has changed, necessitating a corresponding change in the way the country calculates its GDP.
The country has recently seen new economic activities such as betting and gambling and the increasing importance of the real estate sector, among others.
Malawi Confederation of Chambers of Commerce and Industry (MCCCI) earlier backed the rebasing of GDP, describing it as a normal practice and an important process of revaluation of the economy to give it a true picture.
“Most African countries are going through this exercise. This exercise allows governments to better evaluate their fiscal position and revenue base while also providing investors with more accurate information on which to base their investment decisions,” said MCCCI president Prince Kapondamgaga. National Planning Commission director general Thomas Chataghalala Munthali in an earlier interview said GDP rebasing was a long overdue undertaking as “we were supposed to have done this exercise in 2015”.