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Apology over mistake not good enough

MEDIA RELEASE

3 December 1999

Apology over mistake not good enough

An apology by the chief statistician over the mistake made with the September quarter CPI was not good enough, Treasurer Bill English said today.

"The Department of Statistics has a good record, but this figure has changed by 30% and that is large enough that it could have made a difference to expectations of interest rate changes. The Department needs to go further than an apology and demonstrate that it can prevent such a mistake happening again.

"The CPI is a significant economic figure and making a mistake with it is not acceptable to those who rely on key economic indicators. It is the only key indicator not subject to revision and that makes its reliability even more important.

"Mistakes of this nature could make a difference to market settings. However, it also raises doubts about other numbers. The June quarter GDP result is now widely acknowledged to be an aberration and questions will undoubtedly be asked about this as a result of the mistake discovered with the CPI.

"It is in everyone's interests that the Department of Statistics shows its figures can be relied upon," said Mr English.

Ends

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