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Flawed census figures hurting GCC growth outlook

Manama, January 5, 2010

Alleged inaccuracies in population figures in Gulf countries could be painting a false picture of their developmental outlook, according to a report.

Population estimates in a large majority of GCC countries, which are used by local, regional and international organisations such as the United Nations (UN) and the World Bank, have been allegedly found to differ by as much as 25 per cent between different sources.

The Madar Research report said that population figures were vital for calculating a number of performance indicators, including per capita Gross Domestic Product (GDP). It claimed that inaccuracies could lead to completely distorted socioeconomic pointers.

The study, commissioned in association with marketing communications consultants Orient Planet, cites the example of discrepancies over population growth rates in the GCC.

According to Bahrain's Central Informatics Organisation (CIO), population growth was around 7.98 per cent in 2005, 8.14 per cent in 2006, 8.1 per cent in 2007 and 6.96 per cent in 2008. The report claims that figures used by UN organisations over the last five years calculate the growth to be only a quarter of that; at around 2.22 per cent in 2005, 2.17 per cent in 2006, 2.13 per cent in 2007 and 2.02 per cent in 2008.

The case is similar with other GCC states, where in Kuwait UN figures on population growth were around three times lower than official statistics, in Qatar half as low, while in the UAE, organisations had been using statistics some five times lower than Governmental records, according to the report.

Madar Research Group president and research director Abdul Kader Kamli explained that due to the volatile nature of GCC country populations, it was sometimes difficult to ensure an accurate reading from one year to the next.

'Because of the extremely high percentage of expatriate workers arriving and leading the GCC, population figures in some countries in the region have changed sharply from one year to the next,' he said.

'The first step towards resolving this issue is to appoint independent government bodies that should have the sole responsibility of regularly updating and verifying all statistical information related to the country's population using best international practices and standards.'

The report acknowledges that with the formation of the CIO, Bahrain had already become one of the first GCC states to have formed an independent body responsible for acquiring and verifying population and other statistics.-TradeArabia News Service




Tags: economy | GCC | GDP | population | Census | Madar Research Group |

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