Jun 26, 2017 Last Updated 2:11 PM, Jun 12, 2017

Using and misusing GDP

What the figures really say about Fiji’s economy

IF Fiji’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) is growing at 4 per cent per year, the public can normally conclude that this is “good for Fiji people” but it is “not good” if GDP is growing at only 1 per cent or minus one per cent. With most people not know what GDP really means, they also do not know if the GDP data is being used incorrectly, incorrectly, or sometimes deliberately misrepresented in order to mislead the public.

The public should smell a statistical rat when a government highlights GDP figures only when they appear “good” while ignoring or suppressing “bad GDP numbers” (as I explain below). While we could previously rely on an independent Fiji Bureau of Statistics (FBS) to give objective statistics (good and bad) and allow the public to draw their own conclusions, that may no longer be the case, for reasons I explain below.

Unfortunately no institution has ever explained how the GDP data should be interpreted, and why selective use of GDP data (especially by politicians) can be misleading, especially in an open economy like Fiji, dominated by foreigners and large local companies, who all send their profits abroad at every opportunity.

First the definition: The “Gross Domestic Product” is supposed be one number that measures the total value of goods and services being produced domestically in Fiji, perhaps best understood as total incomes produced within Fiji.

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