Tuesday, 10 June 2014

Questions (156)

Brendan Griffin


156. Deputy Brendan Griffin asked the Minister for Finance if he expects the inclusion of the value of illegal drug activity and prostitution in the measure of GDP to impact significantly on the figures; if he is confident that the Central Statistics Office can ascertain an accurate reading in respect of these activities; the way the CSO is researching the levels of activity in drug dealing and prostitution; if he is concerned that the inclusion of these activities in the calculation of GDP somewhat destigmatises them and that some persons involved could see this as the State morally legitimising their actions; his plans to account for other black market activity in GDP calculation; if he was surprised by the scale of the impact of the inclusion of these activities on the UK's GDP figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24213/14]

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Written answers (Question to Finance)

Section 13 of the 1993 Statistics Act provides that the Director General of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has sole responsibility for, and is independent in, the exercise of the functions of deciding the statistical methodology and professional statistical standards used by the Office, as well as the content of statistical releases and publications issued by the Office.

Regarding the challenge of accurately measuring illicit activities, I am informed by the CSO that this is difficult. Statisticians use any available data  that can produce a repeatable estimate for these activities over time. The illegal nature of these activities makes it particularly difficult to estimate their level and value. Consequently, the estimation methods used can only be expected to deliver approximations of the actual levels and value of activity. Data are obtained from a range of sources, including the Gardaí and organisations involved in the welfare of prostitutes or drug addicts. International research in these matters is also reviewed by the CSO.

The CSO also inform me that there have been no changes to the methodology relating to the measurement of illicit activities recently, either relating to the new ESA 2010 methodology or otherwise.

Finally, the methodology for compilation and production of UK national accounts is the responsibility of the Office for National Statistics, the national statistical institute for the UK.