[EDITORIALS]Statistics were distorted

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[EDITORIALS]Statistics were distorted

The government recently reported sale prices of condominiums in three districts of southern Seoul plunged 15 percent between March and June, after it released data about actual sale prices of condominium units nationwide to the public. But the statistics have problems. The ministry arrived at this figure, it said, by simply comparing the average price per square meter of units traded in March with that of units traded in June. In March, units of A, B, C, D and E condominium complexes were traded, whereas E, F and G condominium units were traded in June. It is absurd that the government did not compare price changes in the same condominiums.
In response to this criticism, a spokesman for the Construction Ministry explained, “We only said that prices of traded units in southern Seoul declined, not that general home prices in southern Seoul had fallen.” But, regarding the data, Construction Minister Choo Byung-jik said the decline meant “the start of the removal of the bubble” in the home market of southern Seoul. Releasing the actual sale price of condominium units had a lot of positive effects. If the government had showed the actual sale prices as they were, without interpretations, there would have been no problem. The government’s hopes for real estate stabilization are understandable, but such data distortions have problems.
The Institute for Monetary and Economic Research, under the nation’s central bank, said in a report, “The statistics agency removed exports, whose growth had been slowing down, among the indicators making up the composite index, while newly adding service business revenues, which were rapidly growing, into the index.” The National Statistical Office might have its own reason for the revision, but the Bank of Korea is concerned that the revised composite index could fail to show the current economic conditions as they are.
If the government controls statistics at its disposal, trust in the government deteriorates. The government can also make wrong decisions in policies, due to the wrong statistics. The government should diagnose the current economic conditions on the basis of exact statistics and should seek the understanding of the public if the economic conditions have problems. It is regrettable that controversies on statistics distortions, which were frequent under the military regimes, are also frequent in the current administration, which fancies itself to be the most democratic administration ever in Korea.
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