Lusaka, May 18, 2020: COMESA Secretariat has embarked on the assessment of the impact of the outbreak of COVID-19 on the Consumer Price Index (CPI) data collection. This follows a disruption of the surveys on CPI, which require interactive and wide coverage methods to collect data.
The slowdown has been occasioned by the Coronavirus pandemic and subsequent measures put in place by Member States to prevent further spread of the disease. These have collectively impacted negatively on the collection of statistical information.
The Statistics Unit at COMESA Secretariat states that the partial, full lock-down, social distancing and in some cases, curfews invoked by Member States have not helped the situation.
“The CPI has been affected because data collection has become increasingly difficult as most outlets and other data collection points are either closed or access is limited or is being controlled,” Mr. Themba Munalula, Head of the Statistics Unit states told eComesa.
This data is used for the compilation of the regional Harmonized Consumer Price Index (HCPI). For the month of March, almost all countries that regularly submit data for the COMESA HCPI compilation were able to undertake the CPI surveys.
A few countries, such as Tunisia reported that due to the general containment decree, only 68.9% of the prices collected in the field for the month of March 2020. Eswatini could not make estimates for non-food items following international recommendations. Seychelles reported of challenges in data collection for the month of April adding that it would use imputation techniques based on the CPI manual recommendations.
The CPI is a key economic indicator that policymakers in Member States use on a monthly basis to monitor economic conditions at country level as it reflects the general levels of prices of goods, services and inflation.