Remove doubts about GDP data, follow global norms: Par panel


Noting that the latest GDP data raised more questions than providing answers, a Parliamentary panel today asked the Statistics Ministry to remove all doubts and methodological ambiguities by meeting international standards.

“The Committee is sceptical about the credibility and reliability of statistical data and, therefore, reiterates that all doubts and methodological ambiguities be addressed forthwith by adopting more realistic and objective computation methods followed internationally,” the Standing Committee on Finance, headed by senior Congress leader M Veerappa Moily, said in its report.

The Committee found that the latest GDP data released by the Central Statistical Office (CSO) had raised more questions than providing answers and inputs on the momentum of economic activities across the country, it added.

The panel observed that it did not seem to corroborate real economic activities, such as corporate profitability or credit growth.

The new methodology which included the component of indirect taxes, only reflected inflated GDP figures rather than increased output, the report said.

The robust growth estimates in the face of slump and downturn in certain sectors also raised a critical point on the credibility and reliability of statistical data collected for various economic measures such as GDP; a concern flagged by several economists including RBI Governor (Raghuram Rajan), it said.

According to the report, the statistical data could be considered reliable only if they were able to adequately and objectively capture the net economic impact of an activity.

Devising methodologies, which projected a rosy picture by inflating overall growth figures, would not surely serve the purpose, it said.

It was suggested that a high-level Committee of eminent economists be constituted to consider the entire matter and one acceptable methodology may be adopted, keeping in context practices followed in the world economy. This would put an end to the debate on the methodology.

In response, the ministry had said that the Advisory Committee on National Accounts and National Statistical Commission had finalised the changes in methodology and data sources for implementation in the new series of national accounts with base year 2011-12 in a meeting held on January 19, 2015.

The panel found that there are still 575 total vacant positions in the grades of Senior Statistical Officer and Junior Statistical Officer.

It said that the perennial shortage of manpower at various levels is a matter of concern as this is adversely impacting overall quality of data collected as the sample surveys are being conducted through contractual personnel.

The Committee said that it strongly feel that cadre review in the Subordinate Statistical Service is required to check attrition and attract suitable candidates at the cutting edge level.

The Committee desires that field based recruitment of staff should be undertaken by the Ministry in mission mode under intimation to the Committee.