By Elaine Loughlin, political reporter, in Glenties
The head of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) has admitted its growth figures which were dubbed "leprechaun economics" do not reflect reality and a new system of measuring the economy is now being developed.
CSO director general Pádraig Dalton added the organisation was “limited in our ability to fully explain the revisions” which showed a staggering 26.3% growth in the economy last year.
The figures released last week have been dubbed “farcical” with Nobel Prize-winning economist Paul Krugman describing them as “leprechaun economics”.
Speaking at the MacGill Summer School Mr Dalton said the figures, which show GDP grew more than three times faster than first estimated, do not provide “sufficient understanding” of the domestic economy.
Mr Dalton said reporting GDP is a requirement under EU law and must be compiled “strictly in accordance with international rules”.
He said the revisions published were based on hard data and attributable to the globalisation activities of a “very small number” of companies.
“GDP and GNP, although required internationally, no longer provide a sufficient understanding of the domestic economy and we need to supplement these internationally agreed indicators with a broader suite of indicators that can provide the necessary insights."
He added that a group of experts is now being tasked with looking at this issue and they are due to publish a report on the changes needed later this year.
Mr Dalton told those attending the summer school in Glenties, Co Donegal that the CSO is bound by strict confidentiality rules and that created a “significant communications challenge”.
“This meant that we were limited in our ability to fully explain the revisions and we were obliged to suppress certain detail which, understandably, was an issue for many users.
“The core issues of course relate to the insights on our changing domestic economy that can be gained now from the key economic indicators of GDP and GNP in a small, open and highly globalised economy – perhaps the most globalised in the world,” Mr Dalton said.