Writing for her regular column in the DM Financial Times, Anila Dias Bandaranaike, the former Asst. Governor for the central bank thinks that figure is fake. Here's a few choice excerpts :
Currently, the Department of Census and Statistics (DCS), the national statistical agency, is solely responsible for compiling and publishing these statistics. In the past, both the Central Bank and the Chamber of Commerce released their own estimates, and DCS was in the happy position of being able to cross check its own information with that of others, thereby leading to stronger and more robust estimates. Unfortunately, since the other two organisations no longer compile these data, this verification process is no longer possible. [..]Interesting. Looks like somebody's being creative with their statistics.
DCS, which was an independent institution directly under the President some years ago, currently falls under the Ministry of Finance. I understand that the present ST holds meetings with DCS officials to discuss preliminary GDP estimates, at which senior Treasury officials provide feedback before the estimates are finalised and released to the public. [..]
First, let’s compare agriculture production with prices. The food sub-index of the CCPI(N) rose by over 30%, rice prices rose by unprecedented levels and the Central Bank’s monthly monetary policy reviews specifically referred to the adverse impact of “domestic supply constraints” on inflation in 2008-Q1. Yet, GDP statistics recorded that production of - paddy, other field crops, vegetables, fruits and livestock - rose by between 2% and 8%. [..]
Second, although inflation rose so sharply and FMCG companies reported declining volumes in most categories, domestic trade recorded 5.5% growth in 2008-Q1. Throughout 2007 too, while agricultural and manufacturing sectors producing domestically traded goods had grown at lower rates and paddy output had declined, it was inconsistent that domestic trade had grown by a much higher rate than the goods to be traded! [..]
Fourth, road transportation reported 8% growth, although registration of new vehicles had declined by 17%, indicating lower growth in private transportation. With rising fuel costs, tightening security and road closures, what drove such high growth? [..]
The whole thing here. (unfortunately, the DM site changes the location of pages rather frequently, so if this link is broken, it's their fault.)