Zambia: CSO Switches to New Inflation Technology

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The Central Statistical Office (CSO) will start using new technology to calculate the national inflation rate to improve efficiency and transparency, director John Kalumbi has said.

Mr Kalumbi said the new computerised geometric mode is a switch from the conventional arithmetic system and was faster, secure and was in line with the best international practice.

Zambia has all along been using an outdated D-Base system but the new one, would be in visual basic, more user-friendly and transparent.

"The CSO has implemented the Consumer Price Index (inflation rate) based on a new methodology including the revised basket of products, new weights, new index reference period and new software for processing the consumer Price Index," Mr Kalumbi said.

He said the project has been in the making since 2006 and was funded by International Labour Organisation (ILO), International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the African Development Bank (AfDB) through various stages of developing and validation in 2006, 2009 and last year.

He said effective this month, the inflation rate would be produced based on the new international system adding that, CSO has been carrying out a system change-over since January 2010 when it was running the two systems at once.

"Beginning this month, the CSO would be publishing the revised CPI using the new system and therefore, cease to produce the CPI based on the old methodology," he said.

He said in the old system, the number of food items used in calculating the inflation rate were 257 but that the number of goods in the new system would rise to 438.

He explained that the reference year in the new year for calculating the inflation rate would be revised to 2009 and not 2004 as in the old system with the number of districts under the umbrella now rising to 73 and not the previous 45.

Additionally, the checking centres for the prices of goods in the country would increase by almost 42 per cent from the present 2, 115 to 3,000 in the new system.

He said among other Zambian organisations that were consulted in the developing of the new system are the Bank of Zambia, Jesuit Centre for Theological Reflection (JCTR), The University of Zambia, Zambia Institute of Policy Analysis and Research, the Economic Association of Zambia.

The Common Market for Eastern And Southern Africa (COMESA) was also involved in the developing of the new system.