Islamabad, Feb 26 : The next Pakistan Government is likely to face serious challenges in policymaking process due to questionable reliability of available economic data.
Political parties and independent economists claim that the previous regime was cooking up economic figures for its own benefit and formed the basis of its economic policies.
The issue of credible data will again surface when the new government assumes power probably by second week of March 2008 owing to which many dwellers of Q Block (Finance Ministry) are quite disturbed these days, sources said.
Two recent developments have amazed many in economic ministries. The caretaker Prime Minister Mohammadmian Soomro has formed a committee to check the reliability of the data especially the industrial data.
And the Centre for Poverty Reduction and Social Policy Development (CPRSPD) has revealed that the Federal Bureau of Statistics (FBS) had included unpaid family workers in its figures to show massive decline in unemployment.
Earlier, the CPRSPD had claimed that poverty reduced from 34 per cent to 23.9 per cent in 2004-05, The News reported.
"If there was no reduction in unemployment in real sense as stated by the CPRSPD in its recent study then how the same institution can claim reduction in poverty," sources questioned the data.
Official sources said that deep-rooted problems existed in the FBS where senior staff had either left or was unmotivated to provide managerial skills to lower staff for performing their assigned task.
There is strong perception even among the official circles that Finance Ministry high-ups allegedly exerted pressures in last few years on the FBS higher ups to get their desired figures.
During the last eight years of Musharraf-Aziz rule, the controversy over data surfaced first time in 2000-2001 when the then Chief Economist Dr Pervez Tahir raised objections over the calculation of poverty figures hovering around 32 per cent.
Dr Tahir said that the population living below the poverty line was actually over 34 per cent. This view was also endorsed by the then FBS National Accounts Chief. Later on, the government itself conceded that 34 per cent of the population was living below the poverty line in 2001.