Economy

Agency delays Q2 GDP report

kibuye

A trader at Kibuye open-air market in Kisumu on March 18. PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG

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Summary

  • The data was to capture economic conditions in the period when Kenya imposed restrictions like travel ban, night-curfew, closure of schools and night clubs.
  • The set rules demand that KNBS release the data within three months at the end of the quarter. The delay denies investors information on the impact of Covid-19 economic fallout.

The statistics agency Wednesday failed to release quarter two gross domestic product (GDP) report that was to reveal the extent of damage inflicted on the economy during Covid-19 lockdown.

Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) acting director-general Collins Omondi blamed the delay in releasing economic data for the second quarter (April-June) on late submission of data from some of the economic sectors.

The data was to capture economic conditions in the period when Kenya imposed restrictions like travel ban, night-curfew, closure of schools and night clubs.

The set rules demand that KNBS release the data within three months at the end of the quarter. The delay denies investors information on the impact of Covid-19 economic fallout.

“The delay has been occasioned by late submission of data necessary for the compilation as a result of Covid-19 related challenges,” Mr Omondi said.

“The report will be disseminated at the earliest opportunity once the process is completed.”

Economic growth likely shrank in the April-June 2020 period as authorities enforced social-distancing measures and initial dusk-to-dawn curfew in a bid to stem the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.

The slowdown in economic activity as a result of Covid-19 peaked in April and May when businesses scaled down operations as a result of 7pm-5am curfew as well as closure of some businesses largely in hospitality and passenger transportation sectors.

This exacerbated layoffs, salary cuts and unpaid leave policies by companies which were already battling depressed demand even before Covid-19 struck mid-March.

The demand was further hurt by suspension of international flights which significantly cut the cargo capacity for Kenya’s farm produce exports, hitting demand.

“The economy likely contracted in the second quarter due to restrictive measures weighing on productive capacity as well as domestic and foreign demand,” Barcelona-based FocusEconomics, a macroeconomic research firm, wrote in a report on Kenya’s economy on September 23.

“Merchandise exports fell at a double-digit rate in the period, while imports dropped by over a quarter year-on-year, highlighting weakened domestic demand.”